Remarks – Lunch with Australian and Indonesian Business Community

PRIME MINISTER: Well, thank you very much Gary. And I can thank you and all of our incredible Commission staff here at Jakarta for the tremendous job you do in managing what is such an important relationship for Australia. You bring incredible experience to the role and we rely on it so much in our understanding of things on the ground here. Not just from your own experience but of course your ability to bring such an incredible crowd here today, on a day which is a significant one for Indonesia and I’m sure there are plenty other events going on today as there should be. It is a tremendous day for Indonesia and the fact you’ve all chosen to be with us here today I think says a lot about how you see our Commission here in Jakarta and in Indonesia and that also I think through the regular reporting and advice that we get from Gary enables us to get a very good handle on what’s happening here on the ground. And it’s particularly great to see so many here today, not just Australian expats, who you know, you can never keep them away from a barbecue any day. But to see so many of our Indonesian National friends here with us today. Can I acknowledge the presence of the KADIN, the Indonesian Chamber of Commerce and Industry led by Rosan Roeslani, thank you very much. Can I also acknowledge APINDO, the Indonesian Employers Association led by Hariyadi Sukamdani. Did I get that right? Almost. Almost. I had a lot of small cards for this evening. And of course the Indonesia Australia Business Council led by former Ambassador to Australia, Hamzah Thayeb. As well as the distinguished CEO’s and present Commissioners from the business community. It’s true I used to be in tourism so it’s only appropriate that I say it’s wonderful to be in wonderful Indonesia which I understand is the new slogan used by Indonesia. And it’s an honour for me to attend of course the inauguration this afternoon on the Jenny and the President Widodo, who is a good friend, he is a good friend of Australia, he’s a tremendous friend to Australia. But he’s also a good friend of mine. And of previous Prime Ministers as well, Prime Ministers Abbott and Turnbull who had an outstanding relationship and we appreciate that very much. And the time we have been able to spend together over a period and the achievements that we have been able to progress with. He’s a close partner as is Indonesia. In his own life he’s achieved incredible things having come from humble beginnings to the very highest office. He’s achieved something important for Indonesia’s democracy I think, he has in his own story demonstrated what is possible to every single little Indonesian boy and girl in that true tradition of democracy that wherever you’re born, wherever you are, whatever your background, whatever your up-bringing that you can indeed rise to be the President of this great country. And I think that is one of the big things that we’ll be celebrated again on this second occasion of his inauguration. And as a friend I am so pleased to be here with Jenny and join Iriana as well this afternoon to celebrate his great achievement in his re-election. I’m a big fan of re-elections, I think they’re great.

[LAUGHTER]

[APPLAUSE]

He’s achieved a lot, social and structural infrastructure, airports, seaports, highways, underground metro rail here in Jakarta. And when any leader is elected for the first time they usually get a honeymoon and when they get elected a second time the people generally say well let’s just get back to work. And that’s exactly what he’s doing. I know he’s been visiting areas hardest hit by the fires in Kalimantan and Sumatra. And I do want to express our deepest sympathies for the people of those provinces and for the nation of Indonesia. Sadly on too many occasions I text my friend Jokowi and simply to say I’m so terribly sorry to hear of this terrible event or that terrible event, natural disasters and he’s always so kind in his messages back to me. And so appreciative of the fact that Australians would be mindful of the things that Indonesia are facing from one moment to another. It’s such an extraordinarily large country and covers so many different places within this incredible country. And he’s a President that I think very much is wanting to transport himself to so many parts of the country at any one time and I got to say he did that literally at the last election with his holograph. There are only two people I know who have done that in an election campaign, President Widodo and Prime Minister Modi who I understand he got the idea from, in his first one. But both leaders of countries that are trying to connect with people in so many different parts and to use that technology I think says a lot about him that he wanted to reach out. And he wanted to connect with people right across this country. It was also with some shock, some real shock that we learnt of the terrible stabbing of the Coordinator Mr Wiranto last week and that was very upsetting and I’m pleased to know that, have told me today, that he’s making a good recovery and equally on that occasion we passed on immediately our deep concerns. Not just obviously about the fact that such an attack could have occurred but indeed happened in relation to the Coordinating Minister. He has been at the forefront of our cooperation with Indonesia on counter terrorism and we continue to have our thoughts with him. Now we are great neighbours, we are longstanding partners, we are old friends. It’s amazing Australia can have such a close relationship with a country who we rarely play in sport. It’s usually often goes with some of the relations we have we tease each other as those in Great Britain would be teasing us over the rugby this week. It says a lot that this is a relationship we have that goes well beyond those sorts of things. There are other points of connection which draw us together. From the sailors of the Makassar who traded with indigenous Australian communities 300 years ago, to Australia’s support after the Second World War for Indonesia’s independence, 2019 the 70th anniversary of diplomatic relations. I was relaying today to President Widodo that the mere sight of the new capital that he’s seeking to establish, I relayed to him that that’s where my grandfather was at the end of the Second World War serving with the 7th AIF. And we shared some stories about that part of Indonesia and Borneo and the role that our own forces played in liberating this part of the world all those years ago. But for one simple purpose, to see the country become what it is today and to be able to be here and celebrate such a wonderful day as we are. There are so many different parts to our relationship and it’s a warm afternoon and I don’t want to play you long by running through all of them because you know them well. Let me just say this, last time I was here it was to secure a vital agreement to our comprehensive strategic partnership which we signed on that occasion. And even since then there have been doubters and those who would say that it wouldn’t come to this time, it wouldn’t get to this point, we wouldn’t be able to finalise the text. But I can tell you, tomorrow morning in the Australian Parliament at the House of Representatives, it will pass the House of Representatives it will be ratified by our House of Representatives and it will soon go after that, to our Senate where it will be also ratified by within the next few weeks. It has gone through our Parliamentary Committee process, through our standing committee on treaties and has received a strong endorsement, as it should, as it should. Because the overwhelming benefits of this arrangement see both of our countries open up to each other even more, is what’s so critically needed at this point in time. Indonesia and Australia’s economic relationship is underdone, it really is. And we need to remedy that. I’m talking to the people under this beautiful canopy this afternoon who can change that, who can change the dynamic and ensure that we are getting beyond those that are getting the essence when it comes to investment decisions and engagements between our countries, between business partners and looking at new projects and the projects are right across the great spectrum. Whether it’s in our education sector which is so important presently to our relationship. We already have Australian tertiary institutions who are present here and we want to see more. I know the President wants to see that too. And the skills partnership that we are developing between Australia and Indonesia is absolutely critical. In tourism, in healthcare, aged care, telecommunications, energy, infrastructure, mining of course. Of course. And other professional services. Right now Australia this is the most popular destination for Indonesian students with almost 20,000 Indonesian students enrolments in Australia this year. And I think we will see more of this open up in the years ahead. So this afternoon I simply want to say to you, thank you for being the true believers in this relationship because you wouldn’t be here if you hadn’t been. You’ve been here working away looking at the Australian expatriates who are here and those in the Indonesian community here, you’ve been working away with this relationship for some time with the hope and the vision that at a point we would reach this stage of the relationship. Well I can tell you, we are here. We are here. But the journey does continue on from this point of view, from this point on. And it’s a relationship which just isn’t about our economics. One of the other things I absolutely prize in our relationship with Indonesia is the leadership they provide within the Indo-Pacific region. Indeed it is the very Indonesian concept of the Indo-Pacific which is now driving the Indo-Pacific agenda. And President Widodo has been so central to that being conceived and then championed. It is an idea, a notion, a conception that has been supported strongly, passionately by Australia, led by Japan and now India and other parts of the Indo-Pacific. And it’s an Indo-Pacific notion that is based on the idea of independent sovereign nation states running their own show. Seeking to lift the living standards of their people. Opening up the interaction between economies but at all times retaining sovereignty over what goes on and how they run their own countries. And that is a respect that I think is borne out of the ASEAN concept, an ASEAN concept that Australia has been a partner with for 45 years and a great advocate for it and we see ASEAN at the centre of our engagement with the Indo-Pacific. President Widodo and Indonesia are leading peers within the Indo-Pacific. Whether it’s their understanding of the importance to keep freedom of navigation, freedom of overflight, ensuring there are open routes for trade and commerce, ensuring the peace and stability of the region by working together with partners to provide balance and stability which affords every single nation their sovereignty and their independence. Indonesia, I find in the middle and at the centre of every one of these conversations and standing right beside them making the same points is Australia. So I want to thank you all again for being here this afternoon. Sausages are on. Please enjoy.

/Public Release. The material in this public release comes from the originating organization and may be of a point-in-time nature, edited for clarity, style and length. View in full here.