Australia-Indonesia Relations in the Twilight of the Jokowi Years


President Joko Widodo is preparing to make what is likely to be his farewell visit to Australia before national elections in Indonesia and the end of his second and final term in office next year. 

On Jokowi's watch, great strides have been made in the often-troubled Australia-Indonesia relationship. After a crisis over the execution of two of the Bali Nine drug traffickers in 2015, and some minor hiccups along the way, the two countries have significantly strengthened bilateral institutions. In 2018, they signed a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership agreement, followed a year later by a Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement. The Jokowi years might be seen as a golden era in Jakarta-Canberra relations.

But big challenges remain. Distinct national characters, cultures, and histories pose barriers to deeper understanding. Australia has witnessed declining interest in bridging those differences through Indonesia studies, including language. The two commodity-rich economies often look more like competitors than natural partners, even as Indonesia modernises. And divergent approaches to managing the rise of China complicate strategic coordination.

What does the future hold for Australia-Indonesia relations with a change of president due in 2024? What are the opportunities for deepening trade and investment? Do differing strategic visions limit the scope for defence and security cooperation? And can a relationship serially disrupted by diplomatic controversies mature into a stable partnership?

On the eve of Jokowi’s visit to Australia join Meutya Viada Hafid, Chairwoman of the House of Representatives Commission I for Foreign Affairs, Defence and Intelligence, and Gary Quinlan, Ambassador to Indonesia from 2018-2021.

The Asialink Webinar Series will discuss the latest trends, challenges, and opportunities regarding Australia's engagement in the Indo-Pacific and address key issues in the region as they occur.