PM Transcripts

Transcripts from the Prime Ministers of Australia

Keating, Paul

Period of Service: 20/12/1991 - 11/03/1996
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  • Keating, Paul John

I am very pleased to be able to launch the Australia
Today Indonesia ' 94 promotion. Prime Ministers are
always pleased to open things.
But, for both political and national reasons, I think I
am entitled to take an extra measure of pleasure today.
No country is more important to Australia than Indonesia
If we fail to get this relationship right, and nurture
and develop it, the whole web of our foreign relations is
When I became Prime Minister, I was determined that one
of my highest priorities would be to ensure that
Australia's relationship with Indonesia received the
attention I believed it deserved.
We live adjacent to the fourth most populous country in
the world.
Too few Australians understand the importance of this
neighbour of ours these 180 million neighbours of ours.
Too few understand the riches and variety of Indonesian
culture. And too few appreciate the pace of economic and social
change taking place in Indonesia, where the economy has
been growing in real terms at a rate of 6.7 percent a
year since 1965.
For too long we were inclined to see both Indonesia
itself, and our relationship with Indonesia, in almost
exclusively political terms.
The Australian fear of Indonesia as an expansionist
power, forged during the Sukarno era, persisted long
after President Sukarno and his-policies had gone.

And Australian ignorance of Indonesia continued long
after we should have known better.
So I made a deliberate decision to make my first overseas
visit as Prime Minister to Jakarta.
And I decided to state publicly there what all
Australians need to understand: that the emergence of the
New Order government of President Soeharto, and the
stability and prosperity which his government has brought
to the sprawling archipelago to our north, was the single
most beneficial strategic development to have affected
Australia and its region in the past thirty years.
An Indonesia mired in poverty, split by ethnic or
regional tensions, and hostile to Australia, would have
had incalculable consequences for this country.
And not just for our security but for our economic
prosperity as well.
One of my aims during my visit in April 1992 was to
examine ways in which our relationship could be broadened
away from its concentration on political issues on
which we were sometimes at odds to a much broader
agenda of economic, social and cultural cooperation.
I was convinced then, as I still am, that as Indonesia
developed, so the complementarities between us would
grow. Indonesia's economy has grown five and a half times since
And every year since then the income of each Indonesian
has grown on average by four and a half percent.
The percentage of people living below the poverty line
fell from forty percent in 1976 to around seventeen
percent in 1987.
An economy heavily dependent on commodities, and
particularly on oil, has been transformed, reformed and
deregulated. The industrial sector now accounts for 23 percent of GDP,
more than agriculture.
There are parallels, of course, with Australia's
experience over the past eleven years.
Our economy, too, has been modernised and opened up to
the world through financial deregulation and tariff cuts.
Our exports have trebled and have grown as a percentage
of our GDP from 13 percent to 20 percent.

Our manufacturing exports are growing rapidly and are now
consistently stronger than the rural exports for which we
are better known.
Services exports are also becoming an increasingly
important element in our trade, growing from $ 4.2 billion
in 1981-82 to $ 15 billion in 1992-93.
So, with these changes, we have become more efficient,
productive and competitive than ever before.
With these changes in Indonesia and Australia have come
new opportunities for cooperation.
And our two governments must foster this co-operation.
I have been very pleased to discover on my two visits to
Jakarta, and in meetings with Indonesian Ministers here,
that President Soeharto and his senior colleagues very
much share this approach.
In April 1992, President Soeharto and I agreed that the
establishment of an Australia-Indonesia Ministerial Forum
would be one useful way of broadening our relationship.
We wanted the Forum to include a range of economic
Ministers who until then had not had a great deal to do
with the bilateral relationship.
That Forum has begun its work well, establishing working
groups in a number of areas of practical importance to us
such as agriculture and food co-operation.
Its activities are designed to reflect and to accelerate
broader movements already underway in our relationship.
Here are some figures which bear this out.
At more than $ 3 billion, two-way trade is nearly three
times its level five years ago.
Australian approved investment in Indonesia over the past
five years amounts to nearly $ 700 million.
Sixty percent more Indonesians were enrolled in higher
education in Australia in 1993 than one year earlier.
The number of Indonesian visitors to Australia almost
doubled in two years to 1993.
So my simple proposition is this: no relationship
Australia has offers greater potential, on the social,
the cultural or the economic fronts, than this one with
Indonesia. I happen to think that this holds true for Indonesia as
well, although that is something Indonesia will have to

But having said that, potential is just that
potential. Despite encouraging figures such as those I have given,
we should not fool ourselves that there is anything
inevitable about the trend at work here.
For example, our bilateral trade grew by only 1.5 percent
during 1993. This was the lowest increase in several
years. And although there are several particular reasons
for this, it is not a good enough result.
If the relationship is to live up to its potential,
effort will be required from the whole range of people in
our communities.
But, we can certainly do much more in the economic area.
To take just one example, we hope to sign shortly an
agreement with Indonesia which will facilitate increased
co-operation in science and technology.
And in the area of language, all Australian Governments
are putting their money where their mouths are with the
recent decision by the Council of Australian Governments
to endorse a new national strategy for Asian languages
and culture which will greatly increase the number of
Australian students learning four key Asian languages,
including Indonesian.
There are other areas worth our attention, too.
Changes in Australia and Indonesia and in the world
around us since the end of the Cold War should compel us
to take a fresh look at our strategic relationship.
I believe great potential exists for further defence cooperation
between Australia and Indonesia.
The Government's recent strategic review proposed the
concept of a strategic partnership with the countries of
our region.
If we are to turn into reality our policy of seeking
defence in and with Asia, instead of against Asia,
Indonesia is the most important place it will have to be
done. Already we share many strategic interests. We have no
conflicting interests in this part of the world, and
there is a great complementarity in our respective
defence postures.
And despite the differences in the structure and
functions of our defence forces, new areas of practical
co-operation are opening up to us.

On the political front, we are working together very well
in regional organisations such as the ASEAN post-
Ministerial consultations and we will co-operate closely
in the new ASEAN Regional Forum.
We have also worked together effectively on particular
issues such as Cambodia and regional chemical weapons
arms control and, of course, in APEC.
President Soeharto and I have spoken on several
occasions about APEC. We both see the great potential
the organisation offers for keeping up the momentum of
growth across the whole Asia Pacific region.
And each of us is conscious of the opportunities APEC
offers to ASEAN and the developing countries of the
region, as well as the developed ones.
Indonesia is the Chair of APEC this year, in addition to
its chairmanship of the non-aligned movement. This is a
real tribute to Indonesia's standing in the world.
In my view the APEC Leaders' meeting in Jakarta in
November will be a decisive moment for APEC and the
region. I have offered President Soeharto any help that
Australia can usefully provide.
But despite the bright prospects in areas like these, it
would be foolish to claim that the road ahead will always
be smooth.
I do not doubt that Australia's relationship with
Indonesia will encounter problems from time to time.
We are different people with different cultures and
different views on issues which matter to us.
The management of those differences is part of the
challenge. We will always want to be able to talk
frankly and directly about them. But it is the way in
which we come to grips with them which can give the
relationship its particular value.
Some years ago people in both Australia and Indonesia
liked to refer to the idea that good fences make good
neighbours; that good relations were a matter of keeping
the palings in repair. In my view, the need for such
defensive thinking is well past. As both countries
change, we should and can approach our relationship with
much greater confidence.
I believe that Australia can establish with Indonesia a
partnership which can stand as a model for co-operation
between developed and developing countries, between
countries based on western structures and values and
those based on Asian models.

The task will not be easy. It will require more energy
and commitment; warm hearts and, when required, cool
heads. If a relationship of the sort we want is to endure, we
have to look beyond mutual economic interests and to
establish a deeper understanding.
There is no doubt that work is required on both sides.
We need be in no doubt that Australians' lack of
knowledge about Indonesia is matched by misconceptions in
Indonesia about Australia.
A recent survey commissioned by the Australian Government
found that almost two-thirds of Indonesians believe that
the White Australia policy is still practised. Fewer than
one in five Indonesians see Australia as a modern society
or an advanced country. Australia is perceived to have
relatively low expertise in defence, shipping, aerospace,
mining and manufacturing.
There are other more positive aspects to the survey
findings. But it shows how far we have to go.
This is one reason why the Australian Government is
putting this effort into the Australia Today Indonesia
' 94 promotion.
Australia Today will be a showcase in Indonesia for
Australia's achievements in a whole range of areas from
trade and technology to the arts and tourism.
It will be the most comprehensive promotion that
Australia has ever undertaken abroad, and with the
highest level of participation. More than 500 Australian
organisation represented by at least 1500 individuals,
will take part.
When I visited President Soeharto last October, I was
pleased to receive his support for the promotion.
I am also delighted that the patron of the event will be
the Indonesian Co-ordinating Minister for Trade and
Industry, Mr Hartarto, who knows Australia and
Australians well.
I should particularly note the contribution of some of
the corporate sponsors of the promotion.
New Hope Corporation
Austindo Group
Krakatau Steel

* Coca Cola Amatil
* Price Waterhouse
* ANZ Banking Group
* Commonwealth Bank of Australia
* Blake Dawson Waldron
* Southcorp Wines
* Australian Meat and Livestock Corporation
* TNT Express Worldwide ( Australia)
These are all far-sighted companies. They all have a bit
of vision about them. They understand the potential I
have talked about today.
Several of my Cabinet colleagues will attend Australia
Today events, and the Minister for Trade, Senator
McMullan, will lead a trade mission of business leaders.
The ' Visions for the Future' exhibition will provide a
showcase for Australian science and technology that will
last beyond this promotion and will help sell the message
of Australian achievements in other parts of the world as
well. All Australian states will be represented in this
promotion. In particular, the Queensland and the Western
Australian state governments will have programs in
Semarang and Surabaya respectively, to celebrate their
flourishing sister-state relationships with the
Indonesian provinces of East Java and Central Java.
The cultural program we are putting on will give
Indonesians a taste of the best we have to offer in the
arts, entertainment and sport everything from
exhibitions of art including Aboriginal art the West
Australian Ballet, the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra,
theatre and music.
Elite national teams in soccer, volley ball and badminton
will meet their Indonesian counterparts.
Several top Australian sports coaches will work with
Indonesian sports people a good beginning to the kind
of cooperation which might be possible in the lead-up to
the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney.
' Australia Today Indonesia' will go some way towards
letting Indonesians know about the achievements of the
continent to their south. At the same time it will
expose large numbers of Australians for the first time to
modern Indonesia.

It should go a long way towards creating a better
cultural understanding and, thereby, a better culture
for business and trade.
When this promotion is over, the challenge will remain.
But it will be one we should welcome.
It is in every sense an historic challenge. The chance
to set up for the twenty first century a strong, dynamic
enduring relationship between Australia and
Indonesia. An immensely profitable and creative
relationship between ourselves and the 180 million people
to our north.
Without doubt, there is no more exciting and potentially
rewarding challenge facing us between now and the end of
this century.
That a prominent business group like the Institute of
Company Directors has associated itself with this event
is yet another welcome sign of the growing willingness of
the Australian business community to get engaged with
Asia. I congratulate them, and everyone else associated with
the project and now take great pleasure in launching