MELBOURNE, 21 February 2011 – Former Australian Foreign Minister and International Crisis Group President Gareth Evans has lamented the state of Australia’s relationship with Indonesia, in his keynote speech at the 2011 Asialink-Asia Society AustralAsia Chairman’s Welcome.
“We’ve gone backwards … (a focus on) Indonesia has dropped away and that’s catastrophic”, he said.
Professor Evans identified the relative health of relations on an intergovernmental and policy level, but said cultural and societal linkages were lacking.
He highlighted Indonesia’s importance in ASEAN and from “every conceivable perspective” and expressed disappointment in the decline in take-up of Indonesian language study in Australia.
“We’re just not doing enough and we need to get our consciousness and our act together across the whole spectrum”, he said.