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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.”

  • Watch Abbott’s video message (3m)
  • Listen to Abbott (3m)

Transcript of Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s weekly video message.

Today I am going to Indonesia for the Inauguration of its new President – Joko Widodo.

The transition to a new administration highlights Indonesia’s successful move to a popularly elected democracy.

The inauguration is an important occasion for Indonesia – and also for Australia because Indonesia is a hugely important neighbour. 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.

Almost one million Australians visit Indonesia, including Bali, every year and over 17,000 Indonesian students study here in Australia each year.

On present trends, Indonesia will be the fourth biggest economy in the world by mid-century.

Yet despite this, two-way trade with Indonesia is only $15 billion. In fact, our two-way trade with New Zealand, with just four million people, exceeds our current two-way trade with Indonesia and its 250 million people.

This is why I have often said that our foreign policy needs a “Jakarta” focus rather than a “Geneva” one.

As Prime Minister, my first overseas visit was to Jakarta and this is my fourth visit to Indonesia. I will visit many more times because this relationship is fundamental to Australia.

The Government is taking other steps to strengthen this vital relationship.

There’s the New Colombo Plan, which will see more young Australians study in Indonesia.

There’s the new Australia Indonesia Centre at Monash University which promotes greater understanding of Indonesia and its importance to us.

And we have restored the live cattle trade which is now back to its pre-cancellation peak.

The outgoing President, President Yudhoyono has been a great friend of Australia. He has been a friend to successive Australian Prime Ministers since John Howard.

President Jokowi now takes office with enormous goodwill – in his own country and in ours.

Australia wants the new President to succeed – because a strong, prospering, democratic Indonesia has so much to offer the world.

I look forward to meeting Joko Widodo tomorrow and to further strengthening this relationship with our most important neighbour.

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Malcolm Farnsworth
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