I spoke in Parliament today to mark the 25th anniversary of the Australia-Indonesia Institute.
MONDAY JUNE 23, 2014
In the late 1970s I lived in Indonesia for three years, in Jakarta and Banda Aceh. I stay in contact with my friend Niko, although my Indonesian has not advanced much beyond the schoolboy Indonesian of Terima kasih and Baik-baik saja.
It was my pleasure recently to attend the 25th anniversary of the Australia-Indonesia Institute. Established in April 1989, the Australia-Indonesia Institute has put in place a number of important programs, including the Youth Exchange Program and the Muslim Exchange Program. They have a School Exchange Small Grants Program and work with the Myer Foundation on issues of cultural dialogue.
The Indonesian relationship is a vital one for Australia. We have had past giants in Herb Feith and Jamie Mackie, who worked hard to improve the relationship, and I also pay tribute to Hal Hill and Chris Manning and many others at the Australian National University who do research on Indonesian issues.
Next month Indonesia will go to a presidential election with Joko Widodo and Prabowo Subianto as the main candidates. It is of deep concern to me that the government's tow-back policy is at risk of jeopardising our relationship with Indonesia, following the election. I call upon the government to stabilise relationships and settle a code of conduct prior to the election taking place.