Dispatch from Furlonger

Jakarta, 19 January 1973



The Soeharto Regime and Australian-Indonesian Relations


[matter omitted]1

Australian-Indonesian Relations

  1. Having identified the salient aspects of the Soeharto regime from Australia's viewpoint in the first four despatches, the remaining despatches seek to draw implications for Australia's relations with Indonesia and to make recommendations for future Australia policies. This has been done in two despatches because aid, which is of overriding importance in the relationship, deserves separate treatment.
  2. The fifth despatch opens with the observation that the New Order in Indonesia is vastly better than the other likely alternatives with which we were faced in 1965; (or, if development fails, could be faced with in the future). Some of the high expectations of the Soeharto regime have been disappointed and it would be wrong to expect too much. However, Australia's main interest is in an Indonesia experiencing reasonable economic growth and a benign and stable government and pursuing policies of good relations with its neighbours.
  3. The Soeharto Government fulfils these criteria. President Soeharto, from the framework of his primary concern with the ASEAN region, is very well disposed towards Australia, perhaps to the point of overestimating the contribution Australia can make. This provides a unique opportunity for Australia, with its own national interests to the fore-front, to develop closer relations with a country in which we have a great stake. There are risks in a larger role, but they are outweighed by the positive benefits of a greater effort in Indonesia.
  4. To this end, the despatch recommends a broadening and deepening of Australian representation in Indonesia, continued development of defence co-operation, encouragement to representative institutions in Indonesia, support for Australian cultural and investment activities and an Australian role in interpreting Indonesia and Papua New Guinea to each other. It concludes that we now enjoy a many-sided relationship with Indonesia in which there are some points of difference including our respective approaches to Vietnam and China. But the relationship which we enjoy gives us the opportunity to influence Indonesian attitudes and policies.

[NAA: Al838, 3034/10/6/9, i]