Royal United Service Institute Queensland Official Opening of Seminar: The Future of Australia-Indonesia Relations in a Contested Indo-Pacific Order
Thank you, Mr President, for your kind introduction. I thank the Royal United Service Institute Queensland – of which I am proudly Patron – for this opportunity to join you for one of the Institute’s most important events this year. I acknowledge all distinguished guests here today, from the senior ranks of the judiciary, government, academia, service organisations and the community sector.
On behalf of all Queenslanders, I warmly welcome to our State guests and delegates from interstate and overseas.
The subject of this seminar and policy dialogue – the future of Australia-Indonesia relations – could hardly be more important or topical. This is especially so at a time when there have been recent national elections in both countries.
The Institute has brought together an eminent group of speakers to share their knowledge and experience and initiate dialogue on the many aspects of the relationship.
What is more, the group hails from many different backgrounds, allowing an equally wide variety of approaches related to security, including economic links, regional security, biosecurity, and climate change. That variety promises a wide-ranging, interesting, and productive dialogue.
Of course, the State of Queensland has a major stake in the strength and vitality of the Australia-Indonesia relationship, a fact prominently acknowledged when Kaye and I welcomed the Consul-General of the Republic of Indonesia and Madam Subolo to Government House on Wednesday this week.
To take the economic aspect alone, Indonesia is a priority trade market for the Queensland Government and Queensland’s merchandise exports to Indonesia reached almost $1.2 billion in 2017-18, with two-way trade at $2.0 billion.
These are much more than statistics. They represent significant economic activity and employment in communities in both Queensland and Indonesia.
Along with the nearly 23,000 visitors to this State from Indonesia in the same period, and Indonesian students studying in Queensland, they also represent people-to-people contacts and more familiarity with each other’s cultures.
That is not to say the bilateral relationship is without challenges.
Clarifying those challenges and proposing future-oriented ‘big ideas’ in the context of a dynamic regional environment is, of course, the core business of this seminar and dialogue.
Indeed, it is the core business of the Institute, which I thank for the role it continues to play in promoting informed debate, facilitating dialogue, and raising awareness of important national security matters among Australians.
I wish all visitors an enjoyable stay in Brisbane, and an enjoyable and thought-provoking experience here today.
With those positive thoughts in mind, it is with great pleasure that I now declare officially open the seminar and policy dialogue: The Future of Australia-Indonesia Relations in a Contested Indo-Pacific Order.