Widodo Inauguration: Abbott Stresses Jakarta Focus In Foreign Policy

Prime Minister Tony Abbott has flown to Indonesia to attend the inauguration of its new President, Joko Widodo.

In his weekly video message, Abbott repeated his earlier remarks that “our foreign policy needs a ‘Jakarta’ focus rather than a ‘Geneva’ one”.

He said one million Australians visit Indonesia each year. “It has the world’s largest Muslim population, it is the world’s third largest democracy and, along with India, it’s the emerging democratic superpower of Asia.” [Read more…]


Abbott Government Cuts $650 Million From Foreign Aid

The Abbott government has announced $650 million of cuts to Australia’s foreign aid program.

BishopThe Minister for Foreign Affairs, Julie Bishop, said the government will cut $61 million from the Pacific region. Only Nauru, which houses around a thousand asylum seekers on behalf of Australia, will be exempt.

Other cuts include $59 million from Indonesia, $71 million from South and West Asia, $113 million from Africa and the Middle East, and $5.3 million from Latin America and the Carribean.

Figures released by Bishop show that Australia spent $3,747 million ($3.7 billion) in aid in 2012-13. The Gillard government’s budget increased this to $4,223.5 million for 2013-14. The Abbott government will reduce this to $3,598 million this financial year, a reduction of $625 million and $149 million less than last year’s actual spending. [Read more…]


Tony Abbott’s Weary Dunlop Speech To AsiaLink

The Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, has given a wide-ranging speech about Australia’s relationship with Asia.

Abbott delivered the Weary Dunlop lecture to AsiaLink in Melbourne.

Abbott

He reiterated his earlier remarks that his approach to foreign policy would have a “Jakarta not Geneva” focus.

In the speech, Abbott discussed Australia’s relationship with Indonesia, India and China. He touched on foreign aid, international students and the study of Asian languages in Australian schools. [Read more…]


Indonesia Demands Spying Explanation, Suspends Co-operation; Abbott To Respond; Shorten Invokes ‘Team Australia’

Indonesia’s President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has suspended intelligence exchanges and military co-operation with Australia and demanded Tony Abbott explain the tapping of his and his wife’s mobile phones.

SBY

The suspension of military co-operation includes the sharing of information for anti-people smuggling operations as well as joint military exercises of any kind.

“Facing the common problem of people smuggling, Indonesia and Australia have coordinated operations, coordinated patrolling in the sea area – I have asked for this to be suspended until everything is clear,” President Yudhoyono said. [Read more…]


Abbott Statement On Indonesian Intelligence Operations; Regrets But Does Not Apologise

Prime Minister Tony Abbott has made a statement to the House of Representatives on Indonesia and intelligence operations.

Abbott

Abbott’s remarks follow yesterday’s revelations of Australian phone-tapping of Indonesian officials, including President Yudhoyono and his wife. The Indonesian Ambassador to Australia was withdrawn late yesterday.

“I sincerely regret any embarrassment that recent media reports have caused [President Yudhoyono],” Abbott told the House. “It is in everyones’s interests – Indonesia’s no less than Australia’s – that cool heads prevail and that our relationship grows closer, not more distant.” [Read more…]


Gillard Launches Asian Century White Paper

Prime Minister Julia Gillard has launched the federal government’s White Paper on the Asian Century.

Julia Gillard

In her speech to the Lowy Institute, Gillard announced that Trade Minister Craig Emerson would take charge of a new ministry of “Asian century policy”. The White Paper sets out a plan for regional engagement which includes all Australian school students having “continuous access to a priority Asian language”: Mandarin, Hindi, Indonesian or Japanese. [Read more…]


Kevin Rudd: Building An Asia-Literate Australia

Queensland Labor backbencher Kevin Rudd says Australia is failing to do enough to become China-literate and Asia-literate in the 21st century.

Kevin RuddLaunching a paper, “Finding a Place on the Asia Stage”, by Carillo Gantner and Allison Carol, at the University of Melbourne’s ASIALINK centre, Rudd said there has been a decline in the teaching of the four principal languages of Asia: Chinese, Japanese, Indonesian and Korean.

As “an outpost of the Occidental world”, Rudd said Australia needs to “do more work in understanding the minds..of Asia”. Despite a belief that English is now the universal language, Rudd said the truth is “the bulk of the intellectual discourse, political and policy debate as well as economic exchange within Asia occurs in languages other than English.”

Rudd posed the question: “How much is literally being ‘lost in translation’ in straightforward transactions between individuals, corporations and governments, not to mention the media, everyday around China, Asia and the world.” [Read more…]