Minister for Defence – Speech – “IKAHAN Discussion Series – Malam Ceramah” on the Australia-Indonesia Defence Relationship


to the

Indonesia-Australia Defence Alumni Association (IKAHAN)

“IKAHAN Discussion Series – Malam Ceramah

on the

Australia-Indonesia Defence Relationship



3 April 2013




Thank you for that introduction and welcome.

I am pleased to again have the opportunity to address members of the Indonesia-Australia Defence Alumni Association, or “IKAHAN” as it has now become so well known as.

It is a great pleasure to be in Jakarta again. This is my second visit to Jakarta as Minister for Defence and my eighth visit to Indonesia as an Australian Government Minister.

Today I had my seventh meeting with Defence Minister Purnomo in less than two years.

Earlier today I had the honour of laying a wreath at the Kalibata Heroes’ Cemetery. More than 7,000 veterans of the Indonesian National Revolution, along with Japanese veterans of the Imperial Japanese Army who fought for the Indonesian independence, are buried at the Kalibata Heroes’ Cemetery.

IKAHAN has increased in size by 200 members since I was here in September last year. This is a clear demonstration of the strength of people to people links between our Defence forces and the potential for these to grow even further.

The links formed through IKAHAN will help grow relationships and habits of cooperation between Australia and Indonesia. These links will help ensure that Indonesia and Australia are best placed to benefit from the historic economic and strategic shifts occurring in our region.

The relationship between Australia and Indonesia has never been stronger.

Our respective national leaders, Prime Minister Julia Gillard and President Yudhoyono, now meet a minimum of four times per year, and are due to shortly meet again later this year for their now formal Annual Leaders’ Meeting.

Australia’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, Senator Carr, and I are here in Jakarta with our counterparts – Ministers Natalegawa and Purnomo – for the second Annual 2+2 Foreign and Defence Ministers’ Meeting.

Tomorrow, Australia’s Chief of the Defence Force, General David Hurley, will meet with his Indonesian counterpart, Admiral Agus Suhartono, for the inaugural Indonesia-Australia High Level Committee.

Later this year, Minister Purnomo and I will meet in my home city of Perth, Australia’s Indian Ocean capital, for our second formal Annual Defence Ministers’ Meeting.

Geography and history placed Australia and Indonesia together as neighbours. Today we are much more than that. Shared interests and shared challenges have seen us become strategic partners.

Indonesia has transformed into an open and robust democracy in our region. It is the world’s third largest democracy.

Great potential exists to promote trade and investment links between Australia and Indonesia, the two largest economies in our region. Indonesia is a central part of the Asian success story, with its economy forecast to almost double in size over the next 10 years.

Indonesia, with Australia, as members of the G20, have worked together to confront the challenges of the Global Financial Crisis.

With a profoundly changed and changing political landscape and our bilateral relationship at an historic high, Australia and Indonesia are now presented with a unique opportunity to broaden and deepen our strategic partnership.

Today, Indonesia is a nation now taking on a key leadership role in our region and on the global stage. Australia strongly supports such a leadership role for Indonesia.

Australia and Indonesia’s Bilateral Relationship

Central to the modern day relationship between Australia and Indonesia is the Lombok Treaty, which sets the framework for our bilateral relationship, including our security and strategic cooperation. The Treaty came into effect when I exchanged notes on the Treaty with then Indonesian Foreign Minister Dr Wirajuda in Perth in February 2008.

The Lombok Treaty establishes the modern framework for cooperation between Australia and Indonesia in defence, law enforcement, counter-terrorism, maritime security and disaster response. The Treaty makes clear that each country respects and supports the sovereignty, territorial integrity, national unity and political independence of the other.

In September last year Defence Minister Dr Purnomo and I signed the Defence Cooperation Arrangement, which introduces the formal framework for practical Defence cooperation under the Lombok Treaty.

That Indonesia is of great strategic importance to Australia is demonstrated by the number of regular and high-level dialogues we conduct. There have been over 125 two-way Ministerial visits since December 2007.

The importance and significance of the Australia-Indonesia relationship will only continue to grow as strategic weight shifts to our neighbourhood, the Asia-Pacific.

The shift to our region

A key focus for our discussion during today’s 2+2 meeting was the economic and strategic shift to our region and the opportunities and challenges for peace and prosperity this presents for both Australia and Indonesia.

Some call this era the beginning of an Asian Century. President Yudhoyono said in his keynote speech at the Shangri-La Dialogue in June last year that he is more inclined to call it the Asia-Pacific Century.

I argue that we can broaden further the term to Indo-Pacific, noting that there will be three big strategic powers in our region – the United States, China and India – with critical economic power and political influence.

This will see an adjustment in the balance of power across the region and around the globe.

The rise of China is a defining element in this, but it is far from the only or whole story.

The rise of India is still under-appreciated, as is the rise of the ASEAN economies combined.

The Indian Ocean already ranks among the busiest highways for global trade. It will become a crucial global trading thoroughfare in the future.

The major and enduring economic strengths of Japan and South Korea also need to be acknowledged.

So must the great individual potential of Indonesia – as it emerges from a regional to a global influence.

As well, the United States’ re-balance to the Asia-Pacific will see greater US engagement in our region.

These changes of strategic circumstance, the changes in economic, military and political weight, require adjustments – and China, India and the United States and our region are making adjustments.

How we manage the adjustment to ensure continued stability and prosperity is the most important objective we have and the central challenge in the coming decades.

Australia and Indonesia have an important role to play in this process.

We have all prospered in the relative peace and security our region has experienced over the past 60 years.

We have seen growing economic power translate into growth in military spending, a natural effect of any nation’s significant economic development.

Military modernisation can of course change security dynamics between nations.

That is why the development of mature regional architectures within the region, coupled with strong bilateral relationships, is so fundamental to ongoing peace, stability and prosperity.

Our regional multilateral mechanisms such as ASEAN itself and the ASEAN related forums, the East Asia Summit (EAS), the ASEAN Defence Ministers Meeting-Plus (ADMM+), and the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) are essential to managing emerging challenges in a cooperative and open manner.

These forums promote regular consultation and communication at all levels, from practical exercises between defence forces, to Ministerial level strategic dialogue.

This year, for example, will see practical exercises under the auspices of the ASEAN Defence Ministers Meeting-Plus framework in maritime security, military medicine and humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, as well as a counter-terrorism exercise that will be hosted in Indonesia.

In this period of dynamic growth in our region, cohesive regional architecture will become even more important, as emerging and established powers work together more often and on more issues, building both cooperation and mutual trust.

In his address to the Jakarta International Defence Dialogue, President Yudhoyono said that we all need to invest in ‘strategic trust’, to allow it to evolve, spread and strengthen through our region.

President Yudhoyono was of course both correct and prescient when he said that strategic trust is a two way street that needs to be built brick by brick at all levels around the region.

No one country alone can deal with the transnational nature of this Century’s challenges such as global terrorism, proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, climate change, and cyber security.

Our region’s formal mechanisms provide the forums for open discussion and embedding the habits of consultation and cooperation, something which ASEAN has been able to do successfully over the past 45 years.

ASEAN and the ASEAN related forums have given our region the essential foundation for building strategic trust through regular dialogue and confidence-building.

The East Asia Summit and the ASEAN Defence Ministers Meeting-Plus now provide the opportunities to build trans Pacific relationships including China, India and the United States.

These bilateral relationships will themselves increasingly play a much greater part in shaping our regional political and strategic environment.

Implications for Australia

While we are witnessing unparalleled changes in our region, in some respects what is enduring is just as important as what is changing.

The important constants in Australia’s outlook have been our ongoing close relationships with neighbours including and in particular Indonesia.

Geography matters: as close neighbours, Indonesia and Australia must always be strategically important to each other.

Our increasing ties in economic, trade, investment, tourism, security and people to people links mean our partnership grows more important and more valuable each year.

Our bilateral defence relationship is the strongest it has been for over 15 years, seeing more opportunities to broaden and deepen our strategic partnership even further.

Australia’s Strategic Outlook

In the past six months, Australia has delivered two key policy announcements on our strategic priorities and outlook for the region.

Australia’s National Security Strategy was released in January this year and outlines Australia’s view that the post September 2011 era will have a different focus: one where the behaviour of states, rather than solely non-state actors, will again be an important driver of national security thinking and analysis.

Australia’s national security focus will still include counter-terrorism but the security implications which arise from the shift of economic, military, political and strategic weight to our region have and will come significantly into play.

The National Security Strategy complements the broader view set out in the Australia in the Asian Century White Paper, released in October last year.

The National Security Strategy outlines three priorities for the next five years, to achieve our vision Australia’s national security:

• Enhanced engagement in support of regional security and prosperity in the Asian Century.

• Integrated cyber policy and operations to enhance the defence of our digital networks.

• Effective partnerships to achieve innovative and efficient national security outcomes.

The Australia in the Asian Century White Paper emphasises the critical role of ongoing peace and security underpinning prosperity. This is not new.

It articulates Australia’s national policy objectives and approaches to building sustainable security in our region, including through:

• cooperative arrangements among major regional powers;

• supporting our Alliance partner the United States – an ongoing US presence in the Asia Pacific will continue to support regional stability and prosperity;

• supporting China’s full participation in our Regional Architecture; and

• pursuing practical cooperation and building capability with regional partners across a range of transnational issues.

Importantly, the Asian Century White Paper identifies our relationship with Indonesia as one of our principal relationships for the future – alongside, for example, China, India, Japan and the Republic of Korea.

It looks at new opportunities to pursue deeper strategic and security partnerships with these countries – and specifically mentions IKAHAN as a model for deepening people to people links between Australia and countries in our region.

Both the Asian Century White Paper and the National Security Strategy reaffirm the importance of Australia’s bilateral relationships – and emphasise continued efforts in building patterns of cooperation and trust in the Asia-Pacific.

This analysis and these strategic objectives of both the Asian Century White Paper and the National Security Strategy will be reflected in the 2013 Defence White Paper due for release in the second quarter of this year.

Australia’s New Defence White Paper

In May last year, Australia announced that we will deliver a new Defence White Paper in the first half of 2013.

Australia will deliver a new Defence White Paper one year earlier than previously planned in response to significant events domestically and in our region.

These include:

• The ongoing strategic shift to our region, the Asia Pacific and the Indian Ocean Rim, particularly the shift of economic weight to our region;

• The Australian Defence Force’s (ADF) operational drawdown from Afghanistan, Timor-Leste and the Solomon Islands;

• The United States’ re-balance to the Asia Pacific and Australia’s enhanced practical cooperation with the United States pursuant to our Alliance relationship;

• The completion of Australia’s own Force Posture Review – the first in a quarter of a century; and

• The ongoing adverse effects of the GFC, which have continued to have a significant negative impact on the global economy.

While these are all significant strategic developments, they have been in the nature of an evolution, and therefore the core strategic interests of the 2009 White Paper will remain the same for the 2013 White Paper, notably that:

• Australia’s most basic strategic interest remains the defence of Australia against direct armed attack;

• The security, stability and cohesion of our immediate neighbourhood is a strategic priority for Australia;

• Australia has an enduring strategic interest in the stability of the wider Asia-Pacific region; and

• Beyond South-East Asia and the Asia Pacific region, Australia has a strategic interest in preserving an international order that restrains aggression by States against each other, and can effectively manage other international risks and threats, including from non-state actors.

The 2013 Defence White Paper will address these core interests as well as changing strategic circumstances.

The drawdown from our overseas operations will have important implications for Australia and will present new opportunities for enhanced engagement with our regional partners, including Indonesia.

The Australian Defence Forces’ operational draw down from Afghanistan will see the Australia’s presence and activity in our own neighbourhood come back into sharp focus.

This will apply in particular to our immediate neighbourhood – Indonesia, Timor-Leste, Papua New Guinea, New Zealand, the South Pacific and South East Asia.

Consultation with our regional partners is essential if we are to make the most of the opportunities for greater cooperation and engagement.

That is why I have said privately to my Indonesian Ministerial counterparts and publicly in Australia, I am committed to regular, open and transparent discussions with Indonesia on the development of Australia’s 2013 Defence White Paper.

This is appropriate given the maturity of our bilateral relationship and our strategic partnership.

I have been able to share its progress during my regular meetings with Minister Purnomo over the last 12 months.

And over the past months, our senior Defence officials have held consultations both in Jakarta and in Canberra.

This close consultation is a hallmark of our strategic cooperation.

This close consultation will also apply to Australia’s ADF Force Posture Review implementation.

Policy and Posture in our neighbourhood

Our Afghanistan draw down coincides with a draw down from Timor Leste and the Solomon Islands.

In that sense, our current forward posture in the South Pacific – as part of a regional stabilisation contribution – will itself change significantly.

This forward posture and presence in the ADF’s second priority task area will end after nearly a decade.

So, in the context of the 2013 White Paper, how does Australia and the ADF adjust and adapt to this?

Defence and the ADF’s international engagement in our immediate neighbourhood and beyond is both a strategic necessity and an important strategic asset for Australia.

Port visits, training and exercises, international engagement activities, familiarisation visits both underline neighbourhood engagement and demonstrate the ADF’s capacity to meet the strategic tasks required of it by Government, whether security and stabilisation or humanitarian assistance and disaster relief.

As well, practical defence to defence and military to military cooperation in our neighbourhood region – in humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, peacekeeping training and operations, exercises and training and maritime security – help build habits of mutual respect, trust and cooperation between defence organisations, militaries and nations, and adherence to international norms.

All this not only minimises the prospect of tension, misunderstanding, misjudgement and miscalculation, but builds on and enhances positive cooperative bilateral and regional relationships.

Australia has well developed and well established defence to defence and military to military relationships and practical cooperation arrangements with a range of countries in our neighbourhood and region. Some are well known and recognised, including Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, Singapore and South Korea and the United States itself.

There are also countries in our neighbourhood and region with whom we either have defence to defence and military to military relationships which are either publicly underappreciated or with whom we need to grow our defence to defence and military to military relationship. These include for example China, India, Indonesia, PNG, Tonga and Vietnam.

The Australia-China military to military relationship is growing in prominence and complexity.

Late last year, the ADF undertook with the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) a bilateral humanitarian assistance and disaster relief exercise in Sichuan Province, a demonstration of deepening practical cooperation.

Maritime engagement between our navies continues to grow.

Growing practical military to military cooperation is supported by enhanced bilateral dialogue on strategic and defence issues.

In 2010, the Secretary of the Australian Department of Defence and our Chief of the Defence Force held the 13th Defence Strategic Dialogue with the Chief of the General Staff of the PLA.

In June last year, I met with Defence Minister General Liang Guanglie in Beijing for the inaugural bilateral Australia-China Defence Ministers’ Dialogue.

In 2009, Australia and India signed a Joint Declaration on Security Cooperation.

Strategic engagement has involved high-level visits and ongoing exchanges and dialogue.

Our Navy to Navy relationship continues to grow – a natural progression given our shared maritime security interests as Indian Ocean littoral states.

Bilateral Defence Cooperation

The Lombok Treaty commits Australia and Indonesia to support each others’ unity and territorial integrity, and to refrain from the threat or use of force against each other.

The commitments in the Lombok Treaty are implemented through the Defence Cooperation Arrangement which Minister Purnomo and I signed in September last year.

The Arrangement strengthens the relationship between our two Defence organisations and provides a strong framework for an expanded program of Defence engagement over the coming years.

In recent years, we have steadily increased our program of engagement. 2012 saw the highest tempo of bilateral defence engagement, exercises and training in 15 years.

This year we are on track to see those levels exceeded. This builds on our traditional areas of cooperation in Officer and English language training, with around 160 positions in Australia to be offered to Indonesian military personnel this year under the bilateral Defence Cooperation Program.

Personnel exchanges are strong, spearheaded by frequent reciprocal visits by senior military personnel and high level dialogue.

Senior political Dialogue is complemented by regular senior level officials’ Dialogue, including the Indonesia-Australia Defence Strategic Dialogue and regular Army to Army, Air Force to Air Force and Navy to Navy Talks.

Australia’s practical cooperation with Indonesia covers counter-terrorism, maritime security, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, peacekeeping and intelligence sharing.

Last year, the Australian and Indonesian navies conducted a third Coordinated Maritime Patrol of our shared maritime borders.

Today I agreed with Minister Purnomo that we would look to further expand our program of Coordinated Maritime Patrols.

Counter Terrorism Exercises DAWN KOOKABURRA and KOMODO involve Australian and Indonesian Special Forces, are held annually in Australian and Indonesia.

We conduct biennial counter-hijack and hostage recovery exercises.

Indonesia participated in Exercise PITCH BLACK for the first time in 2012 and this was also the first time Indonesian Sukhoi fighter aircraft have participated in an exercise outside Indonesia.

We are also working to increase our cooperation with Indonesia in the important field of peacekeeping. Preparations have begun for a bilateral peacekeeping exercise, Exercise GARUDA KOOKABURRA, to occur this year.

These activities build on traditional cooperation in officer and English language training. ADF officers undertake training and exchanges in Indonesia, and this year over 150 positions were offered to Indonesian students in over 50 courses in Australia under the bilateral Defence Cooperation Program.

In July last year in Darwin, to coincide with President Yudhoyono’s visit, Australia and Indonesia signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) setting out arrangements for the transfer of four ADF C-130H aircraft to Indonesia.

This will help lift Indonesia’s capacity to respond to humanitarian and natural disasters and potentially sets the stage for further cooperation between our defence industries.

I also confirmed to Minister Purnomo during our discussions today that the Australian Government is willing sell a further five C-130Hs, along with a simulator and spare parts, to Indonesia.

I look forward to building on the momentum in the Defence relationship with strengthened strategic dialogue and an ambitious program of practical cooperation.

The changing regional dynamics I have outlined this evening mean that over time we should look beyond these areas for opportunities where we can do more together.

Our leaders are committed to a ‘comprehensive strategic partnership’ between Australia and Indonesia.

Our defence relationship is well on the way to achieving this, but together, we should consider where we can build, deepen and increase our levels of engagement.

That is why Minister Purnomo and I have agreed today to task our officials to examine options for expanded defence engagement between us.


Australia and Indonesia have had considerable success in fostering a strong and mature bilateral defence relationship.

The time is now right, as President Yudhoyono has said, to ‘seize strategic opportunities’.

We should strive to maintain the momentum of the last few years with strengthened strategic dialogue and a comprehensive program of bilateral and multilateral practical cooperation.

This will ensure our two nations are best placed to meet the strategic challenges of the future, and to enjoy the benefits that will accrue from the historical changes occurring in our region.

Australia and Indonesia, together, can help set the tone for a peace and prosperity in our region.

Thank you for the opportunity to speak this evening.

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