Professor Tim Lindsey has presented an insight into strained Australia Indonesia relations at the latest Perspectives: Asia seminar.

“Australian and Indonesia will always have tensions in their relationship.

All neighbouring countries do to some extent for a range of fairly obvious reasons. Obviously cultural, economic and historical differences matter. So too do shared borders, movements of people across them —citizens and non-citizens — regular and irregular.

This has always been driven by regional conflicts but it is increasing with globalisation.

Whatever the reasons, tensions between neighbours mark the history of most countries with shared borders. Think of the United States and Mexico, for example, or anywhere in Europe. The history of Europe is essentially a history of border conflicts.

These issues have particular weight in the case of Australia and Indonesia because there are very few neighbouring countries, perhaps none, with such marked differences. Race, ethnicity, language, majority religion, economy, geography, demography, history all are extraordinarily different (in the case of Australia and Indonesia).

So too re the legal systems: a French/Dutch-derived system in Indonesia; a British-derived legal system here in Australia.

Likewise, while both countries are democracies, Indonesia’s current system is more like the United States model than our Westminster model and it (Indonesia’s system) is in any case, being just a little over 10 years old, widely misunderstood in Australia.

In fact, Australia and Indonesia are the international ‘odd couple’.”

Watch the full address on our video.

‘Preposterous Caricatures’: Why is the Australia Indonesia relationship so difficult?

Professor Tim Lindsey, Director of the Centre for Indonesian Law, Islam and Society at the Melbourne Law School

Perspectives: Asia seminar series is jointly hosted by the Griffith Asia Institute and the Australian Centre of Asia-Pacific Art / Queensland Art Gallery at the Gallery of Modern Art.