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Transcripts from the Prime Ministers of Australia

Transcript 15972

Australia and Indonesia - Inseparable Partners Working Together and Working Together in the World, Jakarta

Photo of Rudd, Kevin

Rudd, Kevin

Period of Service: 03/12/2007 to 24/06/2010

More information about Rudd, Kevin on The National Archive website.

Release Date: 13/06/2008

Release Type: Speech

Transcript ID: 15972

This is my second visit to Indonesia since I became Prime Minister last year.

My first visit was to Bali to the UN Climate Change Conference, where I also had a chance to meet with President Yudhoyono and talk about the relationship between our two countries.

It was a great pleasure to meet him again this morning and have a formal discussion about our vision for where we take this unique relationship between Australia and Indonesia.

In our discussion this morning I was reminded once again of the incredible changes that have taken place here in Indonesia.

It has been a remarkable decade for Indonesia.

Few countries have been through so much in such a short period of time - the Asian Financial Crisis, the transition to democracy, terrorist attacks and the terrible tsunami of December 2004.

What is remarkable is that Indonesia has not just come through these changes, it has triumphed.

The variety of voices in the public debate in Indonesia and the vibrancy of the media are testament to the depth of the democratic roots that have been laid.

Indonesia's economy is growing at around six per cent.

And Indonesia has been at the forefront of the international fight against terrorism.

Not only that, Indonesia has also strengthened its regional and global leadership role at the same time - particularly under the leadership of President Yudhoyono and particularly with Indonesia hosting last year's critical meeting of the UN Climate Change conference.

So, before I begin, I want to acknowledge and put on record that the Australian Government admires what the Indonesian Government has achieved in the past decade.


In Australia we have had a change of government.

We have come to Government committed to strong economic management, building a fairer Australia and investing in the future so that Australia is prepared to meet the challenges of the 21st century.

Domestically, that means investing in our people.

It means investing in our infrastructure.

It means deregulation and creating a seamless national economy.

All aimed at boosting long-term productivity growth and boost Australia's long-term global competitiveness.

At the same time, we are committed to building a fairer Australia - including for Indigenous Australians.

The new Australian Government is also international in its outlook.

We are committed to building strong relationships with our key partners - key partners like Indonesia.

But we also believe that foreign relations cannot be based solely on bilateral relations.

To help underpin security, stability and prosperity we need strong regional institutions and we need to support the maintenance and the development of the global rules-based order.

Australia and Indonesia

That is the fundamental approach the Australian Government brings to its relationship with Indonesia.

We want to work towards a better future for the people of Australia and a better future for the people of Indonesia.

The best way for us to do that, is in partnership.

Australia and Indonesia are inseparable partners.

Ours is a relationship that has evolved a lot in the last 60 years - from the time when Australia first supported Indonesian independence to the strong, close and increasingly comprehensive partnership we have today.

Today I would like to speak about the partnership we have between Australia and Indonesia and how we should take this partnership forward.

Shared Challenges - economic growth and development

The Australian and Indonesian Governments share a common goal of economic development for our countries.

We have different circumstance and different attributes, but we are both after sustainable development for our people.

Today I discussed with President Yudhoyono the new country strategy that the Australian Government has developed with its Indonesian partners.

The program will run for five years and is an indication of our long-term commitment to our relationship with Indonesia.

Tomorrow in Aceh I will formally launch the Aceh component of the strategy.

I also look forward to seeing some of the development projects we have been working on together there.

But economic development is mainly about the private sector.

I want to congratulate the business people that are here today.

You are at the forefront of our economic relationship - you are the ones finding and developing commercial opportunities.

It is not always easy doing business across international boundaries.

I recognise the hard work and commitment that goes into building and maintaining business relationships.

Our job in government is to make it as easy as possible to do business.

That means helping to bring down barriers to trade.

We can also work regionally - through the FTA we are negotiating between Australia, New Zealand and the member countries of ASEAN.

I would like to see us moving quickly through these complex negotiations to get an outcome as soon as we can.

If we can link both of our economies to the wider region through this agreement, it will provide some real opportunities for growth.

We can also do more bilaterally - I hope that the feasibility study into a free trade agreement between Australia and Indonesia will show that there are great gains to be made if we open up our economies more to each other.

We can work more broadly too - particularly in APEC where business and investment facilitation is a key focus.

And we can work globally.

The World Trade Organisation talks are at a critical stage and we need governments around the world - supported by the voice of business - to make a push to conclude an ambitious deal before time gets away from us.

Because it is the WTO that has set the stage for the remarkable growth in trade and the global economy over the past six decades.

Indonesia plays an important role in these global trade talks as the Chair of the Group of 33 - the major group of developing countries at the negotiations.

These are tough negotiations - I accept that.

But I think we should all keep in mind what we stand to gain from an ambitious outcome to the round - and what we stand to lose if the round fails.

Shared challenges - working together globally

Continued economic development is crucial to both our countries.

But we also need to build a sustainable future for our countries and our region.

And there is no greater challenge in building a sustainable future than climate change.

We have to act to tackle climate change.

The economic cost of inaction will be much greater than the economic cost of action.

Australia and Indonesia share the goal of reducing global greenhouse gas emissions.

For Indonesia, one of the biggest challenges is reducing deforestation.

I was very pleased today that President Yudhoyono and I signed a Forest Carbon Partnership that commits our two countries to work together more closely in this area.

Around 20 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions comes from deforestation.

So it is a critical element in the fight against climate change.

But land clearing is a path to a better economic future for people in many cases.

So how do we recognise the value of keeping rainforests and at the same time provide opportunities for economic development?

One answer to this question is to tie rainforest protection to emerging global carbon markets.

We need to set a value - a real dollar value - on the carbon stored in rainforests.

But before we can do that, we have to know how much carbon there is.

That is where Australia can help.

Using a combination of satellite technology and on the ground monitoring, we have developed a system to measure the amount of carbon stored in forests that is widely regarded as world's best practice.

Over time, as the forest is monitored, changes in the amount of carbon can be measured and quantified.

Then, in the long run, this information can feed into carbon markets.

The carbon credits from avoided deforestation - in other words the preservation of rainforests - could be an alternative source of revenue for Indonesia.

This is not a straightforward process.

Carbon markets are still developing.

But President Yudhoyono and I agreed today to develop a roadmap for linking forest carbon and global carbon markets.

There is real potential for Australia and Indonesia to lead the world here.

We share a goal of having avoided deforestation recognised in future climate change agreements.

We will be working closely together in the lead up to the G8 meeting in Japan next month - where President Yudhoyono and I will both attend the outreach session with its focus on climate change.

Australia and Indonesia have already shown that we can lead the world in other areas.

The regional inter-faith dialogue process that began in 2004 is a great example of this.

The dialogue brings together people from Australia, Indonesia and from around the region to share their ideas and discuss their faiths.

It gives people a chance to focus on what brings us together, what joins us, rather than what might separate us.

I am a strong supporter of the inter-faith dialogue and I want to see it continue and expand in the years ahead.

I am pleased to announce today that Australia will host the next round of this dialogue.

I think that this regional dialogue has been such a success that we should look at how we can share our experience with the wider international community.

I think we should look at how we can take the dialogue to the world.

We will be exploring with our co-chairs and co-sponsors of the dialogue how we can invite others to participate in the dialogue.

Climate change and interfaith dialogue are both examples of Australia and Indonesia working together on global challenges.

Our cooperation sets a great example about what we can achieve - particularly when countries that belong to different international groups decide to act as a bridge between their groups.

Shared Security

Beyond cooperation on the big question of climate change and our work on interfaith dialogue, our shared geography makes us partners in a wide range of matters.

For instance in fighting against terrorism.

Australians and Indonesians have both suffered from the scourge of terrorism.

We have seen innocent people murdered.

And we have responded by strong, practical cooperation in preventing terrorism and tracking down the perpetrators.

I want to pay tribute to the close cooperation we have in this area - particularly between our law enforcement agencies.

I am committed to maintaining and strengthening that cooperation.

But our security cooperation is broader than counter-terrorism.

We have the Lombok Treaty that sets the tone for this wider security cooperation.

And it provides a framework for increased cooperation in defence, law enforcement, and other critical areas including aviation and maritime security.

President Yudhoyono and I discussed the Treaty today and we agreed to develop a detailed plan for increased defence cooperation - one of the key aims of the treaty.

People-to-people Relations

Of course our relationship extends far beyond the important area of security cooperation.

We realise that bringing together a wide range of people from our countries pays real dividends.

I am keen to see our people-to-people ties spread more widely.

I have said before that I want to make Australia the most Asia-literate country in the collective West.

This is not a purely academic exercise - although education is a critical part of the puzzle.

It is about increasing the chances for people from Australia to get together with people from countries around the region, to sit down and talk and learn about each other.

We already have over 170,000 students studying Indonesian in Australia.

I want to see that number rise.

The Australian Government announced in the Budget that we are going to allocate $62 million over three years to boost the study of Asian languages in Australia.

Indonesian is one of the target languages, and part of the funding will go to helping language teachers in Australia spending some time in the country of the languages they teach.

It will give them a better understanding of Indonesia and some deeper personal ties.

It will give them more knowledge to help teach the next generation of Australians.

And this is a two-way street.

We want the people of Indonesia to have more opportunities to learn about Australia.

So I was delighted today that we agreed to get officials to work on establishing a work and holiday visa program.

A shared region

Another important element of our relationship is our regional cooperation.

Australia's future - like that of Indonesia - will depend on developments in our immediate neighbourhood.

We both want to see a stable, open and prosperous region develop.

Indonesia has long played a regional leadership role.

Particularly in ASEAN whose headquarters I will visit later today.

As the earliest of the regional organisations, ASEAN has been a model for the region.

It has shown how cooperation and dialogue can be built in and has set an example of what can be achieved.

Australia is a strong supporter of ASEAN - particularly having been its first dialogue partner since 1974.

We recognised early that Australia and ASEAN needed to build a partnership because we were after the same thing - stability in our region.

Australia has a particularly close relationship with Indonesia in regional organisations.

Look at APEC for example.

APEC has led the way in building cooperation across our broader region.

For instance, APEC is now playing an important role in building cooperation in response to natural disasters across the region.

And recent tragic disasters in Burma and China remind us how important this work is - disasters in our region continue to lead to a dramatic loss of life.

Australia and Indonesia are the leaders of a task force within APEC that is looking at how to bring our experts across the region together.

This morning President Yudhoyono and I agreed to lift the tempo of this task force's work.

We will be working with Indonesia to host a workshop on damage assessment techniques.

This is critical to building our capacity to respond to disasters - the more accurately we can assess damage the better we can tailor our responses.

Furthermore President Yudhoyono and I agreed that we would take to the APEC Leaders' Meeting in Lima, Peru this year a joint proposal on how to better coordinate regional disaster response work.

Australia is driving a feasibility study on a regional centre for disaster relief coordination.

This study will feed into the proposal we take to APEC.

We have a good history of cooperation to build on - we worked together to set up the Indian Ocean tsunami warning system in 2005.

There is also another aspect to regional cooperation that I would like to talk about.

The working-level cooperation we have on matters like disaster relief has the capacity to make a real difference.

But we also need to think about the bigger strategic question of what sort of regional institutions we want to see evolve throughout this century.

Our region is going through historic changes.

The rise of India and China is driving the region's economic growth - and that of the wider world.

And the region's share of the global economy is growing.

By 2020 Asia is expected to make up 45 per cent of global GDP.

It will account for one-third of global trade.

By 2020 Asia's share of global military spending will be nearly one-quarter.

In other words, global economic and strategic weight is shifting to Asia.

So we need to anticipate the consequences of these changes and work to shape the region's future.

One critical element of this is thinking about how to develop the next stage of our regional architecture.

Because strong institutions are needed to underpin an open, stable and sustainable region.

Our existing regional institutions all have positive roles to play.

APEC brings together a wide range of economies, including at the leaders level, every year.

ASEAN has led the way in developing a sense of community in South-East Asia and it has formed the basis for a range of other important groupings - ASEAN plus three (ASEAN and the North-East Asian countries China, Japan and the Republic of Korea), and the ASEAN Regional Forum (ASEAN plus 11 others).

And the most recent addition is the East Asia Summit (bringing together ASEAN, the North East Asian countries and, Australia, New Zealand and India).

But we need to think about the next stage of evolution of our regional organisations.

None of the existing mechanisms as currently configured is capable of achieving what the region needs to effectively shape the future.

Because what the region needs is an organisation capable of handling political, economic and security dialogue.

An organisation that brings together all of the major countries - the United States, Indonesia, India, Japan, China and Australia.

An organisation also capable of marshalling cooperation and, where agreed, common action in these areas.

We need to encourage in our region the development of a genuine and comprehensive sense of community whose habitual operating principle is cooperation.

We need to start thinking about how we develop our organisations - how we get to the next level.

We need to start the debate now if we are to effectively shape the region's future.

That is why I announced last week that Australia will initiate consultations over the next six months in the region's capitals.

We have appointed a high-level envoy, Dick Woolcott (a former Australian Ambassador to Indonesia of course) to carry out these consultations.

Next year, subject to those consultations, we would envisage the possibility of convening a conference of government and non-government representatives to advance the proposal.

The proposal is an extension of APEC's original vision of an Asia-Pacific Community.

This proposal is not about economic or monetary union, or even a customs union.

It is not about a political union.

It is not about a security pact.

It does not envisage any diminution in national sovereignty.

Nor does it necessarily envisage any diminution of any of the existing regional bodies or existing security alliances or other similar arrangements.

The proposal embraces an Asia-Pacific Free Trade Agreement and other steps that we are already looking at towards greater economic integration in the region.

But it must be about more than just economic cooperation.

It should include confidence-building measures designed to promote greater openness, transparency and cooperation around the region.

We need to start this conversation, this debate.

Because if we do not we run the risk that we will drift towards the idea that in our rapidly changing region conflict at some stage is, somehow, inevitable.

In the early 1990s, Australia's Prime Minister Paul Keating and Indonesia's President Suharto worked together to establish the APEC Leaders Meeting.

That meeting took APEC's work to the next level - it made APEC the only forum that brings together the leaders of our region every year.

It is now time that we think about how to realise the original APEC vision of establishing an Asia Pacific Community.

It is time to begin thinking about how our region should look in 2020.

Moving ahead

Australia and Indonesia have a big work agenda ahead of us.

And our work will be taken forward on the strong base of our existing ties across.

But we need to bring together people from all sectors - government, business, and the academic and wider community sectors - to generate new ideas to develop our relationship.

I am pleased to announce today that the Australian Government intends to host in 2009 a major conference on the future of Australia-Indonesia relations.

Our goal is to bring together people who have had a long involvement with relations between our two countries and people who are experts and leaders in their fields but have perhaps not had the chance to get involved.

We will bring them all together and get some ideas about how to move ahead.

We will be talking with our friends in Indonesia over the next few months about organising this conference and thinking about where we take this partnership.

We need to start imaging together where we want this relationship to be by 2020.

Australia's and Indonesia come to each other with vastly different histories.

One of us represents the Group of 77 - the developing countries.

One of us is of the West.

One predominantly Christian.

The other the world's most populous Muslim nation.

But we also come together with much in common.

We are democracies that are committed to making a contribution to our region and to our world.

We are committed to working with each other to build our relationship.

Today, in my talks with President Yudhoyono, we agreed to take our partnership to a new level.

A new level that will build on our strong bilateral economic, political and security links.

But equally importantly, we made a new commitment to work in partnership in the world.

We have much work to do to meet the challenges of our time - from climate change and terrorism to sustainable development and response to natural disasters.

By combining our strengths, I believe that our partnership can be a model to the world of cooperation.

I am committed to that goal.

Thank you.

Transcript 15972