Australia-Indonesia relationship essay

The Australia-Indonesia Connection

The phrase “Australia-Indonesia connection” has been the topic of much debate over the years, with the meaning most recently referring to the two countries’ distinct relationship. The relationship between the two countries has deteriorated and has become a source of concern as Australia appears to be less concerned with the importance of maintaining a binding relationship with its neighbor. The scene has now resulted in a situation in which not only is Australia’s apathetic neighbor policy affecting education and commerce, but it is also a big setback to Indonesia’s desire to become an economic superpower. One of the most apparent realizations is that the relationship extent the two countries is founded on the basis of ambiguous asymmetry. The effect means that Indonesia is more relevant to Australia more that Australia is important to Indonesia. It is, however, noted that both countries have developed from the same foundations of European colonialism. Australia, on the other hand, seems to cultivate amnesia regarding the genocidal character of the settler origins and has since stood by its structural and cultural activities that have been passed on from the precolonial and colonial periods. The outcome is that Australia is less important in the coverage of issues of global importance in almost all segments except when the issues are about the country’s economy potential. The result has been a weakening of the Indonesian social formation in the process with the outcome reaching a point where just one-tenth of the population can be described to be involved in the world politics. The outcome has largely been due to the emergence of geopolitics that has ensured that the bedrock symmetry of the relationship between Australia and Indonesia existed for all these years.

Imbalance in Specialists and Researchers

The lack of balance between Australia and Indonesia is also perceived in the number of specialists who can be relied upon in either case, especially as it pertains to the foundations of research policy. Academic and policy attention is a significant subject in the understanding of the association between the two countries. It has, however, become apparent that the number of Australian scholars in the Indonesian universities is much less compared to the number of Indonesian specialists who are studying in the Australian institutions. The figure is taken in absolute terms, with disregard to the rates in relation to the whole population. The manner in which people shift from one country to another between the two neighbors is another issue of concern considering the trend where Australia is turning to be an apathetic neighbor. While 16,000 students from Indonesia have been reported to study in Australia, less than 80 from Australia have been spotted in the neighboring country. The effect has been that many more scholars and researchers are finding it appropriate to study in Australia but in return, Australia seems not to care about it.

The Role of Australia compared to Indonesia in Relation to the United States

It is also worth describing the reduced role that Australia plays compared to Indonesia in the establishment of relation to the United States. For both countries, it is apparent that the US is a key friendly country even though the US perceives both of them in doubt. The result has been a situation where they are perceived to be countries of strategic importance. However, Indonesia is more of a strategically important country compared to Australia, even though it does not necessarily mean that Australia is not much close to the US. Since the formation of the comprehensive partnership between the US and Indonesia, by President Yudhoyono, the result has been better relations between the two countries. However, while this relation has been binding, the one between the US and Australia has been controversial because it has resulted in dependency. For example, two decades since the partnership was signed and to the end of the Cold War, Australia is still not in a position to conduct a meaningful debate that is founded on the strategic alliance by the US. It thus means that Australia has since assumed a mindset of dependency to the US that has eventually tricked to define the manner it relates to its neighbors, Indonesia (Tanter 3). Thus, even after the formation of the ANZUS alliance, the Australia strategic became of such importance that two decades after the formation of the relationship, Australia is still unable to make reforms of its own

Imbalance in Trade Partnership

Another major concern in the examination of the nature of the relationship between Australia and Indonesia establishes that the dealings tend to outweigh those that are signed in an Australian-Indonesia fashion. The two-way merchandise in the format of government-government relations have since resulted in greater efficiency over the years. The trade patterns and investment opportunities have increased greatly but they remain lower if they were to be perceived as an association of comparable countries. For example, the two-way merchandise has since been highlighted to have amounted to $88.6 billion in 2009, which showed that the Indonesia-Australia trading partnership was fruitful. However, Australian Investment in Indonesia over the same period was identified to be $4.9 billion in 2009, a figure that was significantly lower compared to the other perspective of the fiscal bond (Australian Strategic Institute 1). The impression from these statistics is that Indonesia is proving to be a more reproductive and economical center than Australian and the association is impacting poorly on Indonesia while benefiting Australia’s economy.

Leader-to-Leader Bonds and the Challenges of International Business

The other outcome of the weak neighborhood link between Australia and Indonesia is the fact that there has been a dominance in the leader-to-leader bonds that have given rise to the challenges witnessed in the international business. There has been a fragility in the two countries’ perception of each other, with the result leading to the multiple and diverse community links. When such links are not working, there are fewer business dealings that can be completed, hence the rise and dominance of the state-state relations. The importance of such leaders needs to be emphasized. The need for constitutionally empowered leaders is, however, proving to be the most important factor that defines the relationship between the two countries. The Indonesian leaders overall appear to be well-versed and establish policies that are lucrative and favor Australia, but in return, the leadership outfit is less reliable (Behm 4).

Complacency on the Australian Side

Complacency on the Australian side is another issue of major importance and that has ended up describing Australia’s apathetic neighbor scenario. It is agreed that complacency is an enemy of opportunity and unfortunately, it appears to be the trend in Australia. The tendency is so disturbing that the country has been reported to prefer the smug notion and look at itself as self-satisfied with the approach coming out as a unique one compared to the Asian policy. A common statement that has been quoted about Australia is that they are fond of saying “So long as we can preach to the region, there’s no need for us to listen to our neighbors, to understand their cultures or to converse with them in their own languages” (Behm). The mindset has resulted in the thought that Indonesia can help in the leverage role unaware that it is a clear demonstration of institutional ignorance that weakens the relationship between the two countries.

Australia's Failure to Appreciate the Strategic Significance of Indonesia

The overall impression is that the two countries have ended up being strategic partners with Australia’s leaders not appreciating the strategic significance of Indonesia to their economy. It has since been noted that successive governments that have existed in Australia have consistently failed in the formation of policies and processes and instead criticized the nature of the relationship. For example, the Prime Minister of Indonesia stated that their neighbors, who happened to be the largest anyway, have languished in judgment. It has since resulted in Indonesia’s economy stalling as it had even recovered from the Asian Financial Crisis (Hill 1). The general feeling was there was a need for a more consultative relationship between the two countries, especially with the goal that Indonesia is set to be the world’s tenth-largest economy by 2015. It thus calls for more ballast being indicted in the relationship between Australia and Indonesia.


In summary, it is worth highlighting that the neighboring countries Australia and Indonesia have gradually become distinct, with Australia turning out to be an apathetic neighbor. The problem is critical because it has surfaced in almost every sector of the economy, including the educational sector, security, and in the business world. The suggested solution to help reignite the relations to ensure that both countries regain their potentials is to focus on rebuilding the relationship to warrant a better and close partnership. Overall, however, it will be interesting to see the practicality of the above recommendation, especially considering the economic and fiscal goals that Indonesia has set for the next decade.

Works Cited

Australian Strategic Institute. “Seeing Indonesia as a Normal Country Implications for Australia.” Strategy (2008): n. pag. Web.

Behm, Allan. “Australia: Indonesia’s Apathetic Neighbour.” The Strategist (2016): n. pag. Web.

Hill, Cameron. “Australia and Indonesia: From Good Neighbours to Strategic Partners?” Parliament of Australia (2017): n. pag. Web.

“Results for: Issue 2013 June 1370181600 Hugh White Wh Indonesia S Rise Means Australia.” The Monthly n. pag. Web.

Tanter, Richard. “Shared Problems, Shared Interests: Reframing Australia-Indonesia Security Relations.” n. pag. Web.

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