The 2015 Australia-Indonesia Dialogue opened yesterday (Wed) with the Indonesian ambassador to Australia looking ahead to “a more stable, secure and prosperous region”.
His Excellency, Mr Nadjib Riphat Kesoema, was at the Nathan campus for the third year of the high level discussions led by the Griffith Asia Institute and the Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI).
“Our two countries depend on each other in so many ways,” he said. “This regional construct has served Australia and Indonesia well for 40 years.”
Mr Kesoema surveyed the Asia Pacific landscape in terms of economic growth, regional politics and a changing international order.
He highlighted the region’s stability and key factors contributing to this, while also discussing the importance of keeping both borders open so knowledge and innovation could be shared to the benefit of both nations.
“We must work hand in hand to tackle issues in the region and avoid kneejerk nationalistic reactions that slow economic growth and damage international relations.”
The two-day Dialogue was opened by Professor Russell Trood, Director of the Griffith Asia Institute, who encouraged delegates to look positively to the future.
“We can’t ignore the events of the last few months nor should we be dwelling on them,” Professor Trood said, referring to the aftermath of the executions of the Bali Nine leaders in April.
“The sessions during the next two days allow for reflection on the past but they are also shaped to build strong relationships going forward.”
Professor Trood targeted “clear policy ideas” to come from the Dialogue which could be presented to both governments. He also looked forward to laying the foundations for stronger research collaborations between the two academic institutions.
Former Australian ambassador to Indonesia, John McCarthy AO, also addressed delegates which included representatives from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
“This is the sort of activity this relationship badly needs, activity that looks at the issues and which builds ballast in the relationship. We need a whole series of activities across the board in the communities of both countries.”
Mr McCarthy, who chairs the Australian Institute of International Affairs, spotlighted the unique challenges Australia faces as a western democracy managing relations with countries in the region.
“All of the countries in our primary foreign policy focus have very different historical and governmental bases, and our relationship with Indonesia represents this in the most salient way.
“It comes down to how we, as a society, educate ourselves about our external environment.”
He referred to the results of the 2015 Lowy Institute Poll which surveyed Australian attitudes to a range of foreign policy issues, including the relationship with Indonesia. Australians’ feelings towards Indonesia fell to their lowest point in eight years.
“This shows the amount of ignorance that exists in Australia about our external environment. It is something we need to address as a country to make us more Asia-conscious and then project it into the region. That is why this sort of activity is so crucial for our two countries.”
The Griffith Asian Century Futures Initiative is the University’s strategic commitment to enhance engagement with Asia and the near Pacific. The Griffith Asia Institute has been successfully leading the Asia agenda through the series of high profile Dialogue events in partnerships with government, universities, industry, and leading international think tanks.