Australia Should Maintain Good Relations with Indonesia
Australia Should Maintain Good Relations with Indonesia Under Coalition Government
Despite extensive media reports that relations between Indonesia and Australia are already under pressure following the recent comments made by Indonesia's foreign minister - about aspects of Mr Abbott's 'turn-back-the-boats' policy - the outlook for the coalition to build a good working relationship with our northern neighbour is positive.
Ross Taylor, The chairman of the WA-based think-tank, the Indonesia Institute (Inc) and Australia's "2013 Presidential Friend of Indonesia" said today that despite the comments from Jakarta, the opportunity for the coalition to build a close and solid relationship with our northern neighbour is high.
"The comments on asylum seeker policy by Dr Marty Natalegawa need to be considered with care", said Mr Taylor.
"Firstly, the Indonesian foreign minister did not reject the coalition's 'turn back the boats' policy outright, but rather was referring to the coalition's 'thought-bubble' idea of paying village wardens to 'dob in' people smugglers, and also the concept of buying-back fishing boats."
"The latter comments deserve to be rejected by Indonesia as they are simply not workable, are potentially offensive to Indonesia, and would 'cloud' the broader policy of what do do specifically about boat arrivals from Indonesia into Christmas Island".
Mr Taylor said that Indonesia's position will always be one of preferring a 'broadly-based' regional solution to the people smuggling trade.
"But that doesn't mean Indonesia isn't prepared to sit-down and work through, with the incoming Australian government, an acceptable (to both countries) program. "Therefore, the best thing Mr Abbott can do is to leave the issue of wardens and boat buy-backs where it belonged - in the realm of pre-election rhetoric, and focus on the broader issue."
"Indonesia and Australia have too much at stake throughout the region not to have a good working relationship. Mr Abbott and Ms Bishop would know that only too well. And Indonesia have as much at stake as Australia in ensuring good relations are maintained and developed."
Mr Taylor said the issue involving the potential investment, by Indonesia, in cattle properties in Australia's north should be welcomed by Mr Abbott as part of an overall upgrading of agriculture partnership between our two countries.
"Indonesia has an agriculture sector about four times that of Australia", said Mr Taylor. "But it is a sector in desperate need of investment and improved management and farm practices, as Indonesia faces the challenge of increasing productivity to meet its domestic and export opportunities over the next ten years."
"We are a natural partner for Indonesia by taking interests in our respective supply chains, so these are the messages we need to be sharing with Indonesia; not just about boat people."