SPEECH BY THE PRIME MINISTER, THE HON P J KEATING MP JAKARTA - WEDNESDAY 22 APRIL 1992
Period of Service: 20/12/1991 to 11/03/1996
Release Date: 22/04/1992
Release Type: Speech
Transcript ID: 8488
Document: Original Transcript (PDF 614.48 KB)
TEL: 22. Apr. 92 19: 23 No. 023 P. 01/ 13
SPEECH BY THE PRIME MINISTER, THE HON P J KEATING, MP
JAKARTA WEDNESDAY, 22 APRIL 1992
Ladies and gentlemen
I have come to Indonesia, on this my first overseas visit as
Prime Minister, because Indonesia is in the first rank of
Australia' s priorities.
As our close neighbour, as the fourth most populous country
in the world, as a rapidly growing economy in the most
rapidly growing part of the world, as a key player in this
region where our future lies, Indonesia commands Australia's
attention. It Is often said that no two neighbours could be so
dissimilar as we are.
Culturally we are very different demographically,
historically. It is not surprising that we have sometimes been at odds:
or that relations have occasionally been strained.
But our relationship is changing.
in recqrat years we have built substantial links diplomatic
links, cultural links and in particular, commercial links.
it is remarkable how a relationship can grow when concrete
common interests are found and we determine, jointly, to
Very different we may be, but we have found, I think, that
the destinies of our two countries are joined.
I should like this visit to signal that.
in fact the threads of our relationship are long and strong.
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The Second World War brought Australians arnd Indonesians
into extensive contact with each other.
After the war there was widespread Sympathy among
Australians for the cause of Indonesian independence.
The sympathy found concrete expression when, in the Course
of the Indonesian struggle, the Australian labour movement
imposed boycotts and black bans against Dutch shipping.
In 1947 it was Australia, together with India, which brought
the matter of Indonesian independence before the UN Security
Council. Shortly after, Australia was nominated by Indonesia to sit
on the three-nation United Nations Good Offices Committee..
As one commentator said, this display of confidence in
Australia by Indonesia was the high-water mark of relations
between our countries in the early post-war years.
Australia co-sponsored Indonesia's admission to the United
Nations in 1950.
The achievement of your independence was thus one of the
proud moments in the history of Australian diplomacy.
But of course the historical threads go well beyond the lost
Australia, after all, was once called New Holland.
Not many years after the Dutch established themselves in
Indonesia, one of their number, named Abel Tasman, sailed
from Jakarta or Batavia as it was then known along the
west and south coasts of Australia.
He left Australia, rather ungraciously remarking, " there is
no good to be done here"
And he sailed on to trade with places in the north,
Asia hdS long been a theatre for trade between dissimilar
societies, and Australia and Indonesia have long been a part
Before Europeans traded In the region, fishermen from the
M'akassar area in what was then called the Celebes, were
trading with China in trepang gathered of f the northern
This was Australia's first export commodity; and a valueadded
one at that for, with the cooperation and assistance
of the Australian Aboriginals, the trepang was cured and
smoked on Australian shores for export to China.
.22Apr. 9129 : 23 NO. U25 e. U3'/ 10
The cultural influence of this trade can still be seen in
the language and culture of the Australian Aboriginals who
came in contact with the peoples from the Makassar area.
In the era of colonial Australia and colonial Indonesia,
Jakarta was a refuge and source of supplies for British
ships beginning with James Cook's Endeavour.
In the first half of 1790, the infant British colony at
Sydney Cove, cut of f from home, terribly alone, and as yet
incapable of making the new environment yield food, sent a
ship to Jakarta for supplies.
By the time it returned, British ships had arrived and the
colony was saved, but the ship from Jakarta was very welcome
nonetheless. Ladies and gentlemen, as we plan our strategic, trading and
cultural relationships in this last decade of the twentieth
century, it is worth bearing these historical threads in
mind. Together they suggest a pattern of interdependence.
They hint at what can be done.
Today we believe a great deal can be done not merely in
response to immediate needs, but in pursuit of 8 worthwhile
and enduring relationship between our two countries.
In quite different ways we have both emerged from a colonial
past. We have both committed ourselves to the kind of
radical economic reform which will give our nations a secure
place in the world.
The Australian government believes that all we do in the
world, in Asia and the Pacific, all we do in Indonesia, we
will do best as a nation of independent and unambivalent
mind. We have long been independent.
But, perhaps because we are a European country living
alongside Asia, the residues of colonialism have tended to
There is a conservative element in Australian society not
so strong as it was, but influential just the same which,
through its attachment to the past and its anxiety about the
Asia-Pacific future, tends to resist the full expression of
It is the same element which opposed Indonesian independence
in the 1940s.
Attitudes are often the last things to change.
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As I'm sure it affected Indonesia long after independence,
the colonial legacy still affects us, arnd we still face
questions about what part of it we should retain and what
parts cast off.
A great deal of our British colonial heritage underpins our
political and legal institutions. It remains a defining
element in our culture.
We do not seek to change these things.
But our population is no longer the overwhelmingly British
one it was.
Contemporary Australia is multicultural the old
Australians of English, Scots and Irish stock having been
joined by large numbers of people from all the countries of
Europe, the Middle East, the Americas and Asia. By that
measure alone we are very much part of the world.
Multi-culturalism has Cone much to break down our fear of
cultural difference, and therefore our old fear of Asia.
We are substantially changed in this.
We are more worldly, more mature.
So should we be.
By most measures we are not a young country. The
Commonwealth of Australia is almost 100 years old.
Australian democracy, founded in the 1850s, is much older
than most democracies in the world.
There should be no question about our identity or where our
For far too long we have measured the strength of our
society, the level of our sophistication, the worth of our
achievements, against Britain and Europe and against the
At times we have done this while clinging to such vestiges
of the pid imperial power and culture as will, we think,
earn us respect in the world.
We think the time has come to step out of the colonial
shadow and make our position clear:
we are Australian
we are engaged with Asia.
We are different -culturally, historically, politically
but we can handle the difference.
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We believe we can contribute something to what is already a
diverse region. The Asia-Pacific, as well as Indonesia, can
achieve unity in diversity.
Ladies and gentlemen, the Australian government is actively
and unequivocally committed to this region and to
developing, in particular, a relationship with Indonesia.
In significant ways we have shared the past. If we are
prepared to put in the effort, we can share a much more
In the forty-two years of our diplomatic relations, there
have been substantial achievements as well as periodic
setbacks. If we reflect on that experience, I think we will see that
we have made progress when we have been realistic.
we have achieved things, end been able to protect those
achievements, when we have found a tangible basis for our
work. We have been disappointed, I think, when we have failed to
take sufficient account of our different outlooks.
We are very different countries. We will always see some
What we need for a successful bilateral relationship is the
firm ground of tangible achievements, and real incentives to
see us through the times when good will is not enough.
We need to identify our shared interests and create the
institutional links which will consolidate our progress.
We need to create the conditions in which new shared
interests will emerge.
To point the way towards a more secure relationship, let me
say where I think some of our most important common
Most obviously we share an interest in success.
More, probably, than most Australians appreciate, our
country has benefited enormously from the success of yours
in recent years.
Our experience of nation-building has not followed the same
path as yours.
As a consequence, we are inclined sometimes to underestimate
how difficult it is to achieve orderly development in a
nation as vast as Indonesia, and as culturally, ethnically
and religiously diverse.
The achievements of President Soeharto's New Order are very
Between 1966 and 1991, Indonesia's real GDP rose 450 per
cent. Its real growth rate over this period has been one of the
highest among developing countries.
Structural change has been rapid: agriculture's share of GDP
is half what it was a quarter century ago.
in the late 1970s Indonesia was the world's largest importer
of rice. In 1984 Indonesia became self-sufficient.
The people of Indonesia are now better fed, housed and
educated than ever before. Infant mortality rates are
approximately half what they were.
These are triumphs.
But the achievements of the Soeharto Government spread wider
In establishing political stability and economic progress in
Indonesia, your government has contributed to stability and
prosperity In the wider South-East Asian region.
Australia is among the beneficiaries.
We gain commercially, of course; but just as importantly,
our national security benefits from 8 benign environment
where not so many years ago there was great uncertainty and
volatility. We share with Indonesia a fundamental interest in the
strategic stability of our region, and in limiting the
potential for external powers to introduce tension or
conflict. Recognising this shared strategic interest, we are keen to
work with Indonesia as equal partners to strengthen
bilateral defence relations.
There is scope for building closer links between our armed
forces and defence organisations. We can do this with more
high-livel visits and consultations, combined exercises,
training and other exchanges.
Earlier I referred to those seamen from the Makassar area
who for hundreds of years made annual calls to harvest the
trepang from the shores of Aboriginal Australia.
Plainly, for hundreds of years a commlon Interest was
recognised and practical arrangements devised.
So now our practical interactions as neighbouring countries
create another category of shared interests.
our maritime border is the most obvious of these.
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Most of the sea-bed boundaries were formally delimited
twenty years ago, but there remained important areas where
agreement had not been reached.
The most extensive of these was the Timor Gap, covering
potentially rich reserves of oil and gas under the Timor
Sea. Rather than attempt to reconcile different legal
interpretations of rights over the continental shelf, the
two governments established a joint development zone for the
cooperative exploration and exploitation of the area's
The Timor Gap zone of Cooperation Treaty, which entered into
force in February 1991, is a triumph of creative cooperation
between our two governments. It is the most substantial
bilateral agreement we have concluded.
It demonstrates conclusively that we can find imaginative
solutions to bilateral problems when we recognise the common
interest and apply to it the necessary political will.
Ladies and gentlemen, earlier today three more bilateral
agreements were signed.
They deal with double taxation, extradition and fisheries
cooperation. in practical ways they each expand and strengthen the
framework to improve the bilateral interaction between
Australia and Indonesia as outward-looking neighbours.
Ladies and gentlemen, as everyone here is aware, the
situation in East Timor has been a recurring and sometimes
divisive issue In ou relations.
I should take this opportunity to explain that the
disproportionate attention East Timor receives in Australia
does not mean that we are not interested in the welfare of
the 182 million people who live in Indonesia's 26 other
provinces. The atl~ ention East Timor receives, internationally and in
Australia, is a natural consequence of the territory's
uniquely troubled history, beginning with its neglect under
We carry no brief for the Portuguese occupation of the
territory, or for the manner of their leaving or their
recent diplomatic manoeuvres.
Australia's outlook has been shaped by the additional
factors of our proximity to East Timor, the fraternal links
we had with the people of East Timor during the Second World
War, and the sizeable East Timorese community which now
lives in Australia. T2E2L:. fRpr. 92 19: 23 No. 023 P. 0( 11.5
Australia made it clear that it did not condone the manner
in which Indonesia acquired East Timor, but since 1979 we
have accepted Indonesian sovereignty over the territory.
The Australian Government has made clear its views about the
tragic events in Diii last November.
We consider the subsequent actions of the Indonesian
Government, including President Soeharto's public statements
and the measures announced by the Army Chief-of-Staff on 27
February, to constitute a credible response.
Our continuing concern is with what practical help we might
be able to give to the people of East Timor.
Our aim as concerned outsiders is to assist where we can in
measures for their welfare, and to support a process of
reconciliation between them and the Indonesian authorities.
I am pleased that during this visit our two governments have
been able to sign a memorandum covering an 11.5 million
dollar Australian aid project to improve water supply and
sanitation in parts of East Timor.
Ladies and gentlemen, in coming to terms with a more fluid
political environment in Asia, Australia and Indonesia have
ample scope to cooperate in helping shape the regional
agenda. Indonesia.' s regional credentials are very clear.
it is a leading member of the Association of South-East
Asian Nations ( ASEAN), which is a focus of wider dialogue
I should like to think that Australia, too, has demonstrated
an ability to contribute usefully to regional diplomacy in
Our two countries have invested considerable effort in the
long negotiations leading up to last October's
comprehensive political settlement of the Cambodia conflict.
our arrqed forces are now serving in Cambodia as part of the
United Nations peace-keeping presence.
We have also worked closely together to encourage a regional
dialogue on security issues, centred on the ASEAN PMC
process. Ladies and gentlemen, I said at the beginning of this
address that it is remarkable what can be achieved when
common interests are identified and pursued. And they will
be pursued the harder if they are material common Interests.
ZZ MfJF V4 A7 LV I I U I
It is one of the happy coincidences of the history of our
two nations that in recent years we have adopted economic
strategies which greatly multiply our common interests.
We were both overly dependent on commodities. We have both
sought to correct our external Imbalances. We have both
liberalised our economies.
Since coming to office in 1983, the Australian Government
has removed exchange controls, floated the Australian dollar
and made it a more competitive currency, deregulated banking
and radically reduced import protection.
We have cut back the government Sector and cut taxes. We
are now encouraging an historic shift from industry-wide
labour relations arrangements to workplace bargaining.
In the same period Indonesia has transformed its economy by
implementing strikingly similar policies.
Banking has been deregulated and monetary policy changed so
that it now relies on interest rates instead of credit
restrictions. Indonesia has cut protection against imports, increased
manufacturing production and reduced dependence on
commodities. You too have cut back on government spending, rationalised
taxes and created a competitive exchange rate.
Both our economies are now much more open and outward
looking. Both are more competitive and more diverse I would venture
to say, more creative.
I would 81s0 go so far as to say that what we have done has
given our countries a better chance in the modern world.
Our own success might be seen in the growth of our economy
by more than one third in the past decade, in the fact that
we are exporting more, that our trade is increasingly with
our regional neighbours, and the contents of exports now
includds a significant proportion of services and
manufactures, in addition to our traditional strengths in
food, minerals and other raw materials.
Indonesia's success might be measured in those dramatic
improvements in living standards I referred to earlier, and
in average real GDP growth of about 6 per cent during the
1980s. Ladies and gentlemen, this common strategy of creating
liberal market-oriented economies produces, as I said,
Concrete common interests. TL! 22. Hpr. 2qz 1Y: ZO riO. VZ
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It has taken longer than it should have, but in recent years
Australia and Indonesia have discovered each other
commercially. We have discovered that we have goods and services to
exczhange and investments to make.
Between 1989 and 1991 two-way trade increased by 66 per
cant, to be worth approximately 2.4 billion Australian
dollars. Australian investment in Indonesia has increased markedly.
Indonesian companies are now also starting to invest in
Australia. The trade in services is also growing in tourism,
education, medicine, and support industries for the major
There are many other areas in which Australian expertise
should be able to find niches in Indonesia. Pleasing as the
trend of recent years has been, we know that we have the
potential to play a much bigger part.
We have much to offer in the way of raw materials, capital
equipment and technology.
Australia's experience in coping with similar climates,
extensive coastlines and long distances has produced
technology and solutions well-suited to Indonesia often
much better suited than the products of, say, Japan, Germany
or the United States.
Our experience and expertise in many other other areas is
second to none in the world in forest management, solar
technology, food processing and coal-fired power stations
We can assist as exporters, but just as readily as joint
I'm confident that we will find the larger role we seek.
As both countries expand along this liberal economic path we
can expect the trade to grow. We Can expect the range of
shared interests to grow.
We can expect, I believe, a much more productive and durable
relationship between our two countries.
Ladies and gentlemen, in recent public statements in
Australia, I have emphasised the need for us to come to
terms with the economic vitality of the Asia-Pacific region.
Our external policy reflects the interest we share with you
in maintaining a sound multilateral system for international
ILL: L LL. Hpr JZ Z Pflu.'
Indonesia and Australia have worked together within the
Cairns Group in order to achieve the result we both need
from the Uruguay Round the liberalisation of international
We have also both given strong support to the Asia-Pacific
Economic Cooperation or APEC process.
I do not believe it Is in the interests of either of us to
have the international trading system degenerate into rival
blocs. We would both lose in a situation where the countries of
East Asia saw themselves as an economic bloc in rivalry with
those of Europe and North America.
The central idea of APEC is to build on existing networks of
economic interdependence throughout the ASia-Pacific region.
I believe we should continue to work through APEC to promote
an open regionalism which is compatible with a wider
multilateral trading system.
Regardless of the outcome of the Uruguay Round, APEC'S value
will grow considerably if a process of non-discriminatory
regional trade liberalisation can be carried forward with
conviction. Australia has assured Indonesia that our vigorous support
for the APEC process in no sense qualifies our recognition
of the achievements and potential of ASEAN.
We appreciate the great value of ASEAN.
We share its members' belief in the advancement of political
end economic cooperation.
We admire its contribution to wider stability and harmony in
the Asia-Pacific region.
The adoption at lost January's ASEAN Summit of a proposal to
establish an ASEAN Free Trade Area highlights the continuing
vitalitX and significance of the organisation.
Australia particularly welcomed Indonesia's strong
endorsement of APEC at the ASEAN Summit.
Your position underlines the compatibility of the ASEAN and
Ladies and gentlemen, we who live in this part of the world
live in dynamic times.
Our two countries which, on the face of things, are so
different have these times In common.
We have shared much in the past. We now share the future.
We need not compromise the integrity of our cultures or our
beliefs arnd values to work fruitfully together.
We know that we will each be stronger for the other's
success. -In coming years I think you Will notice that there has been
a change in the way Australia does things.
in the 1980s some of us were struck with the thought that,
if we did not change, the Society we had built would not be
We had to change direction: and in the past decade that is
what we have done.
Australians have taken up the challenge of economic reform.
They have made the cultural leap necessary to change the
industrial culture the culture of work and management.
Just as we have learned how to build a tolerant and fair
multicultural aociety, where once we were fearful of
difference, we have learned how to build a competitive
economy, where until very recently we were less than
Competitive. These days few Populations are so economically aware as
Australia's. It is the sharpened awareness one has when a
disaster has been narrowly avoided.
We know what has to be done.
If these have been dramatic changes, so too-has been the
change in the way Australians perceive themselves in the
world. It has taken longer than perhaps it should have, but I think
it can now be safely said that most Australians see Asia
and the Pacific as holding the key to our future.
This thought is not new. There have been Australians saying
it for ' fifty years.
The difference is that this time we have not only recognised
that our future belongs in the region, but we're engaging
with it as we never have before..
Along with our efforts to build our economic strength, the
talk now is about nationhood and being Australians of
It requires a considerable conscious effort to overcome all
the effects of even a relatively benign colonialism.
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As I said earlier, attitudes are often the last things to
change. Among the other lessons we have learnt in recent years is
that, like the colony at Sydney Cove as it waited for the
ship to return from Jakarta, we really are on our own.
That is why more than ever before we have to think for
ourselves, be sure of ourselves be, without a trace of
ambivalence, one Australian nation.
We urge you not to think of Australia as the place it was
twenty years ago, even a decade ago.
Think of it as the place it is now, and as it intends to be
a partner in the dynamic new world of the Asia-Pacific
region. Increasingly, that is how we Australians are thinking of it.
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