Feb 10, 2020

Address by the President of the Republic of Indonesia – Monday, 10 February 2020

Mr ALBANESE (GrayndlerLeader of the Opposition) (11:48): I begin by acknowledging the traditional owners of the land upon which we meet and pay my respect to their elders, past and present. Selamat datang, teman-nya. Mr President, I would like to welcome you and Foreign Minister Marsudi to Canberra for this historic visit. I had the great pleasure of once again visiting Indonesia to meet with the foreign minister in August last year. For my first overseas visit as leader of the Australian Labor Party, Jakarta was the obvious choice. We think of the relationship between our nations—as neighbours, as partners and, importantly, as friends—as one of central importance. When I returned from Indonesia, I was filled with an even stronger personal commitment to the growth and the prospering of our relationship. Your visit comes as we are about to embark on a new stage in our relationship, as the comprehensive economic partnership agreement is brought into operation. I’m very pleased that Labor was able to support this agreement and I strongly hope it will see a new phase of economic engagement between our two countries.

Indonesia is on course to take its place among the top economies in the world—the fourth largest—over coming decades, yet our economic relationship has struggled to keep pace with the reality of Indonesia’s economic rise. We therefore need to build on this recently finalised agreement, not only to dramatically increase our trade relationships but to widen this to our investment links. Beyond these, we also see it as an opportunity to deepen our economic, business, trade union and civil society links. So important is this goal that I’ve launched an Indo-Pacific trade task force within the Australian Labor Party, led by Luke Gosling. This task force will identify new ways in which Australia and Indonesia can expand our economic relationship alongside our other relationships in the region. Labor welcomes your ongoing work to improve Indonesia’s attractiveness as an investment destination and to lay the foundations for long-term development, and it was a pleasure to have the opportunity to discuss those issues with you one on one earlier this morning. Should Labor come to government, we intend to again look at Australia’s level of development assistance to Indonesia.

Your Excellency, as neighbours, Australia and Indonesia have a common interest in working together to shape our region, based on the principles of openness, transparency, democratic principles and inclusion. Our partnership finds strength in our unique histories and perspectives, but we cannot allow ourselves to be complacent. We must dedicate ourselves to building a deeper understanding between our diverse communities, not just our elites. Labor remains firmly focused on our partnership in all of its dimensions. Indeed, I’m pleased to count no fewer than four Bahasa speakers in the senior ranks of the Australian Labor Party, my good friends and colleagues: our Senate leader, Penny Wong; Chris Bowen; Stephen Jones; and Luke Gosling. Our partnership finds expression in so many ways—for example, your decision to send over 40 military engineers and other personnel to help us in our time of need during our ongoing bushfire crisis. This was the action of a true friend.

Your Excellency, just last Friday, I received an unexpected reminder of our relationship when visiting the New South Wales South Coast with my shadow cabinet. Prior to the meeting in Batemans Bay, we visited Mogo. This is a very small hamlet on the South Coast. It had been under threat. As you drive into the main street of town, you see homes that have been reduced to ash. There, in Mogo’s main street alongside coffee shops and other stores, was a store run by a local, Trent Harvey, who was working in Sydney and decided to move back to set up a small business in Mogo. It is called Indo Direct. It has arts, furniture and every product imaginable imported from your great nation. Here it is: a town with a population of just over 300 demonstrating in a really practical way why increased trade is good for both our economies and both our peoples—in this case, Indonesia’s manufacturers and artisans and, on Australia’s side, our retail and tourism sectors. On behalf of Labor, I purchased a ceramic artwork as a gift for you—a small gift to remind you of your support for our bushfire communities. It is from your country but purchased in Mogo, a small town doing it tough. It’s not what you expect to run into when you’re in a small hamlet on the South Coast. We will make sure that you receive that later today, Mr President.

Indonesia’s blossoming democracy stands as another basis for greater cooperation in our region and the wider world. Indonesia’s successful historic transition to a multiparty democracy sends a powerful message and one that resonates all the more now at a time when we are seeing, unfortunately, a global trend towards authoritarianism. The Bali Democracy Forum is a great expression of this, and, in the future, I would be keen to do more with Indonesia to promote democracy in our region, and I’m sure I speak in this case on behalf of the entire parliament.

Of course, this isn’t the only area where there’s a great opportunity to work together as partners. Indonesia and Australia have already been able to work together on protecting the global order, founded on international law, which we both believe is so central to our individual destinies. In areas like the law of the sea, Indonesia has played an absolutely critical role, and we would also look forward to working with you on the challenge of addressing climate change, which is a threat to both our nations. Indonesia and Australia’s networks of links across the globe are different but highly complementary and enable us to deliver more together at the global level than we could do apart as individual nations. For this reason, you can be confident that any future government that I lead will be committed to expanding on the important cooperation on the rules based order we have achieved to date. Regionally, Indonesia has always proven highly adept at bringing together divergent views in the region and finding ways to negotiate the challenging geopolitical environment that we face together—more recently, with your leadership, ASEAN members coming together around a shared ASEAN outlook on the Indo-Pacific. This work clearly evidenced your strategic wisdom, and Labor strongly supports the outlook.

Your Excellency, in closing, I hope you go away from your visit with a very clear understanding that, no matter which party forms government here in Canberra, you can expect a strong and bipartisan commitment to the importance of the relationship between not just our two nations but also our two peoples. And you can always count on an equally deep commitment to making our relationship an even better one. Thank you.