Australia-Indonesia’s Exchange of Perspective on Asia.
Indonesia and Australia’s role in Asia are very strategic within the context of politic as well as economy. Both are middle power countries that have their own significance in maintaining peace and stability in the region. Indonesia and Australia also share the same interest in overcoming common challenges such as growing number of transnational threats and the changing landscape of international power relation.
These concerns was shared in “Asian Century Futures Initiative, Australia-Indonesia Dialogue” held by LIPI and Griffith Asia Institute on November 15, 2016. This event is the fourth Australia-Indonesia’s dialogue that aims “to bring together experts from Indonesia and Australia to examine the politic, economic, social and environmental challenges affecting both countries.” In her opening remarks, Dr. Tri Nuke Pudjiastuti, the Deputy of Social Sciences and Humanities, LIPI, expected that the outcome of this dialogue can be more than an academic product, but also directly beneficial to both governments. Following the opening remarks, Dr. Justin Lee, Deputy Head of Australian Mission to Indonesia, expressed his appreciation and suggested that this event is important in order to learn form each other as middle power countries. Dr. Lee also mentioned that Indonesia and Australia also have good people-to-people relationship that built by various sectors like tourism and academic. The remarks also followed by a brief introduction of Griffith Asia Institute (GIA). The head of the GIA, Professor Ian Hall stated that the GIA has always been active in building the discussion on the role of Australia in Asia. GIA has 40 researchers whose research interest cover broad topics on Asia.
On to the dialogue, it was divided into three sessions. The first was on “Australia-Indonesia Bilateral Relationship.” This session provided the basic understanding about the two countries relation’s. One of the important aspect is pubic opinion as presented by Professor Colin Brown (GIA) in his observation on “Australian Public Opinion and on Bilateral Relationship: the Historical Record”. Another important aspect is how the two countries’ defense relation. Professor Ikrar Nusa Bhakti (LIPI) delivered this crucial topic in his paper “Progress of Australia-Indonesia Defense Security Co-operations.”
The fruitful dialogue was continued by a challenging after-lunch session titled “Regional Security and Regional Power”. In this session there were three maritime-themed presentations. Two of them were discussing one of the critical issues in the region, the South China Sea. From Australian perspective Dr. Peter Layton (GIA) presented “No Good Options? Australia’s Worsening strategic dilemmas in the South China Sea”, and analyzing Indonesia’s role Dr. Greta Nabbs-Keller (University of Queensland) brought regional aspects in “ASEAN’s Dimming Lights: Indonesia’s South China Sea Challange”. Lastly, Dr. Riefqi Muna (LIPI) broadened the regional with “Indo-Pacific Maritime Security”.
The third session highlighted “The Changing Economic Dynamics of Southeast Asia”. Opening this session, Dr. Diego Fossati (GIA) explored Indonesia’s electoral issue in “A tale of three cities: Accountability, Voting Behavior and Governance in Indonesian Mayoral Elections”. The other two presentation, “Australia and Indonesia in the Changing Economic Dynamics of Southeast Asia and the Wider Region” by Kevin Evans and “Regional Cooperation and Integration in Southeast Asia: Economic Rebalance” by Panky Tri Febiyansah (LIPI), emphasized the importance of economic factors as the main aspects of development in the region.
At the end of the dialogues, Dr. Adriana Elisabeth, the Head of Center for Political Studies shared her thought on the full-day event and looked forward for another series of fruitful Australia-Indonesia Dialogue. (Khanisa)