JULIE BISHOP: Good Afternoon. It’s an absolute delight to be here, and I thank Governor-elect Khofifah for attending. We had a very productive meeting just a few moments ago.
Consul General, Chris Barnes, thank you for you kind words Chris, our Deputy Ambassador, Allaster Cox. Ambassador Fauzi, I received a text from Ibu Retno just a short while ago, assuring me that you would be here. Fortunately I was able to text her back and say, “yes your Ambassador is here. She wasn’t checking on you but just making sure.
The many distinguished guests, friends of Indonesia, friends of Australia.
This morning, as Chris and Allaster indicated, I officially opened Australia’s new Consulate-General in Surabaya, our fourth diplomatic post in Indonesia, after Jakarta, Bali and Makassar.
Our nations share a very close partnership across our societies, our economies, with links between cities, communities, businesses and our people.
The Consulate-General might be new, however, we have a long standing connection to Surabaya. Indeed, over 80 years ago, Surabaya was the first international overnight stop for Qantas. They had a Flying Boat service in those days, and between Sydney and Singapore they would stop at Surabaya. Now I think that’s not such a bad idea for us to reintroduce, I think we should have a word to Qantas about direct flights to Surabaya!
East Java and my home state of Western Australia have a very productive ‘sister state’ relationship, and I’ve detected already that there’s a very similar attitude amongst East Javanese and Western Australians – we both think that our part of the world drives the national economy. I’m sure East Java tells Jakarta often, as often as Western Australia tells Canberra that we’re actually the economic powerhouse of the nation. The 27-year connection between East Java and Western Australia is a really strong foundation for our formal national diplomatic presence here in Surabaya.
Our shared commitment to freedom and democracy also brings Australia and Indonesia together. This last week I was in Singapore with Ibu Retno and other foreign ministers for ASEAN-led foreign ministers’ meetings and whenever I met with Ibu Retno - in the Southwest Pacific Dialogue, in the Australia-ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting, in the East Asia Summit, the ASEAN Regional Forum - on so many issues our regional view aligned.
We have both produced foreign policy white papers or concepts about the Indo-Pacific. This is not just a geographic concept, it is a strategic and economic reality that our interests lie in the region bound by the Indian Ocean and the Pacific Ocean. Indonesia and Australia share a vision for the Indo-Pacific, that it be free, open, inclusive, stable and prosperous, with a commitment to the rule of law and democratic institutions.
The success of recent regional elections demonstrates the resilience of Indonesia’s democracy, which has gone from strength to strength over two decades. Indonesia sets an example for the region, indeed globally, that of its inclusive, multicultural and multi-faith society.
Our communities share the same values of tolerance and diversity, rejecting those who seek to spread division and hatred. We work together to counter violent extremism and combat the ideologies, including online narratives. The voices of moderation must drown out the voices of hate.
I take this opportunity to offer our sincere condolences to the families and friends of those killed and injured in the senseless and brutal terrorist attacks that took place here last May.
Australia and Indonesia are close partners in the fight against terrorism and violent extremism. Our close security partnership, including cooperation between our law enforcement, intelligence and security agencies, remains a cornerstone of our relationship, and has deepened significantly over time.
We’re working together on the Bali Process. This is a regional grouping of almost 50 members, focused on reducing the flow of illegal migration and reducing the exploitation of vulnerable people.
Next Tuesday I will co-chair, again, the Bali Process Ministerial Conference with Ibu Retno, and this conference seeks to tackle people smuggling, human trafficking, modern slavery, and other transnational crimes. We’re also co-chairing a government and business component of the Bali Process to ensure that businesses through regional and global supply chains join in the efforts to stamp out human trafficking, modern slavery and other such crimes.
We are also deeply committed to strengthening our communities through education and training. I applaud the commitment of the Indonesian Government to its education sectors. Australia will continue to be an enduring partner in education and training.
East Javanese students are especially keen to learn – for this province is currently the second largest source of Indonesian students studying in Australia. There are many successful Australian alumni in the region, including Deputy Governor-elect, Emil Dardak, and award winning fashion designer, Peggy Hartanto. Peggy studied at Raffles College of Design and Commerce in Sydney, and I understand she’s quite the celebrity designer in Indonesia. Emil studied at what is now Deakin College.
Indonesian students came to study in Australia in the 1950s and 1960s under the original Colombo Plan. Many gained qualifications from Australian universities and came back to Indonesia to help build this nation. Today, Australia Awards are providing Masters-level support for students from Indonesia to study in Australia, and we have a New Colombo Plan, this time in reverse, which supports Australian undergraduates travelling into the region to live, and study, and undertake internships in one of forty locations in the Indo-Pacific.
Indonesia is proving to be exceeding popular amongst Australian undergraduates. From 2014 to 2019, 6,900 Australian undergraduates will have lived and studied, and undertaken work experience in Indonesia under the New Colombo Plan. Over a similar period 2012-2017, over 6,000 Australia Awards have been provided to Indonesian students to study in Australia.
Just think of the power of that resource – the alumni between Australia and Indonesia; young people, potential leaders, those who will take important roles in government and business, and community and civil society in years to come, having that enduring connection with Indonesia for the Australians, and Australia for the Indonesians.
The new Consulate-General in Surabaya is already doing its part to support the New Colombo Plan. An Australian undergraduate and New Colombo Plan scholar, Zoe Croucher, has just finished an internship with the Consulate General. She’s currently studying Indonesian and Economics at Gadjah Mada University in Jogjakarta. Thank you Zoe for the wonderful support you’ve given at the Consulate General, you are a marvelous ambassador for Australia in Indonesia.
There are also strong institutional links between our universities with practical benefits and outcomes. Airlangga University in Surabaya co-chairs in the Western Australia–East Java University Consortium, focusing on research in food and water security, health and investment, industry and trade.
In the spirit of creating more opportunities for students, I am pleased to announce the opening of a new Aussie Banget corner at Airlangga University, and adds to other Aussie Banget corners in universities across Indonesia, including in Yogyakarta and Malang.
Now apparently in this corner, it’s a space, students are given a taste of Australia through books, multimedia and other educational resources. It also provides a space and a place for alumni of Australian universities to meet and share their experiences with peers who are interested in living and studying in Australia. I think we need more Aussie Banget corners around Indonesia!
We continue to build on our education ties through the Australia-Indonesia BRIDGE School Partnership Program, and this morning I attended the ten-year anniversary celebrations of the BRIDGE program. It is a remarkable initiative establishing professional partnerships between teachers and life-long friendships between students. It has connected school communities across Indonesia and Australia, and there are currently 180 partnerships between Indonesian schools and Australian schools; connecting our students, our teachers and our school communities. One very popular aspect of the BRIDGE program is that the students get to visit their partner school.
Australia is absolutely committed to working cooperatively with Indonesia to address its development needs. We partner with Indonesia in providing courses and systems to strengthen economic and social development.
For example we have a program called PRISMA, this stands for the Primary Rural Income through Support for Markets initiative. It is based here in Surabaya and it helps farmers increase their income through better business practices and improved access to markets.
Our development partnership promotes policy change to overcome inequality, reduce poverty and improve education attainment.
We also work together to boost Indonesia’s economic growth and development by empowering women. No nation can reach its potential until and unless it fully embraces the skills, and energy, and ideas of the fifty percent of its population that is female. The Australia-Indonesia Partnership for Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment helps increase the participation of women in the workforce and improves access to social protection programs.
Role models do matter. East Java has just elected its first female governor, Ibu Khofifah, and thank you for being here today. Surabaya has also had a female mayor since 2010, Ibu Tri Rismaharini, and again another strong role model.
Australia see exciting prospects for enhancing trade and building economic partnerships across East and Central Java, and Jogjakarta, which is also covered by the new Consulate General.
I’m told that Surabaya is known as the ‘city of heroes’ but it is also a city of entrepreneurs, producing some of Indonesia’s great businesses. Now many Australians enjoy Bintang beer, but I don’t know whether they would realise that the original brewery was here in Surabaya. Bintang today is the leading beer manufacturer in Indonesia.
Successful Australian businesses also have a presence in Surabaya, including the Commonwealth Bank, Coca Cola Amatil and Blue Scope Steel, which are investing and creating jobs here in the region.
I want you all to get to know Chris Barnes very well. I want you to keep him very, very busy, because we appointed Chris to this post based on his experience strengthening trade and commercial links between our two countries in the private sector and also as the Commissioner and Regional Director of the Western Australia Trade and Investment Office in Jakarta.
So Chris and his team, along with our other diplomatic posts in Jakarta, Bali, and Makassar are here to drive our trade and investment relationships. We certainly want to ensure that we give our national governments all the support they need to negotiate the Indonesia-Australia Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement.
Our teams are here to drive closer connections between businesses, between communities, between our people; in education, in tourism, in every facet of life across Indonesian and Australian society.
The official opening of the Consulate-General in Surabaya is indeed a milestone in the Australia-Indonesia relationship. But I’m very confident that the next generation of Surabayan heroes and entrepreneurs and their Australian counterparts will continue to deepen, and strengthen, and broaden the friendship between our two countries. Long may Australia and Indonesia be reliable partners and trusted friends.
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