Thursday, 28 August 2014
I would just like to associate myself with the words of the member for Gellibrand on a very important topic. Two weeks ago I undertook a self-funded tour of Indonesia. Indonesia is a valuable country in the Asia-Pacific region and for much of our history Australia has tended to look over Indonesia and talk about China, Japan and Korea, while Indonesia has tended to look north. I take a strong view that a stable, strong, growing and wealthy Indonesia is in Australia's national interests. Two-way trade between Australia and Indonesia is in the order of $15 billion per year. Australian farmers know that we cannot feed the people of Indonesia but rather through partnering with our producers can complement their farmers and their production systems and that, ultimately, we can have some good outcomes for both countries.
The live cattle export business is an example of that. I visited three feedlots in Sumatra and was very pleased to see the results of the ESCAS system that the previous government had introduced and the fact that it has been taken up. Lifts in animal welfare for both Australian cattle and Indonesian cattle and the standard of feedlots was First World. We should be commending the Indonesians on that and be proud of our involvement in the trade and of what it has done. Australia exports beef, wheat, dairy and horticulture. I have a large agricultural electorate and over 10 per cent of Australia's grain harvest goes to Indonesia.
Australia partners with Indonesia to lift their standards of living. Indonesia has a population of 240 million people. Out of that, 110 million still live on less than $2 a day. Things are improving. However, there are still significant challenges with HIV, childhood education and children's life expectancy. Australia spends $600 million a year in aid to Indonesia. It is a significant investment. We are investing in economic growth, finance programs, justice reforms, education, health, disaster relief and rural development. I do wonder whether we can better badge our investment so that we can further win hearts and minds of everyday Indonesians. That is something we should look at.
I met with newly elected members of the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle, which is the party of President-elect Joko Widodo. It is important that we develop those relationships because, ultimately, country-to-country relationships start with people-to-people relationships. We look forward to a strong working relationship with President-elect Widodo after he is sworn in as President on 20 October. We commend the Indonesians for embracing democracy. A man or woman in the street now has a strong say on how his or her country is run. Democracy is something we value in this place and it is increasingly being valued by the people of Indonesia. It is great to see their ongoing attack on corruption. Corruption is the enemy of prosperity. Individual honest endeavour has to be rewarded within an economy if communities are to increase wealth. Allowing and supporting corruption blunts that endeavour.
Whilst I was in Indonesia I had a look at the issue of terrorism, something that is very dear to my heart. I visited the Australian embassy where, on 9 September 2004, 11 deaths occurred as a result of an attack there. I also visited the Bali bombing memorial where 202 people were killed by Indonesian terrorists. Of those, 88 were Australians. I had a particular personal interest in that, my first cousin having been one of the people who were killed by that bombing. In a very personal way I did something that my cousin, Kristen Curnow, would have appreciated. I bought her some Rip Curl thongs and wrote on those thongs: 'We still grieve for you; we still remember you.' I left those thongs there at the memorial. Something my cousin would have also appreciated very much is the fact that, very shortly afterwards, those thongs were knocked off. Someone made off with them. My cousin was very well known for 'random acts of kindness'—that was her favourite saying. So she would be more than happy to know that someone took those thongs, probably someone who could not have afforded them, anyway, and is now sporting a pair of Rip Curl thongs, walking around Bali.
Indonesia is going to be very instrumental to our prosperity in the future. A strong and stable Indonesia is in our national interest. It was a worthwhile trip and I hope that members of parliament continue to build good relationships with countries in our region.