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Australia-Indonesia: hard to be bosom buddies but civility possible

November 23rd, 2013

It is difficult to imagine that Australia and Indonesia will ever be bosom buddies. The cultures of the two countries are too different for that. But so what? Geography dictates for both counties that civility is preferable to confrontation whatever the differences.

Since Australia was one of the early supporters of Indonesian independence from Dutch colonial rule more than 60 years ago, examples of the differences have caused tensions. Australian support for the geographic absurdity of former British and Portuguese possessions in Borneo and Timor being granted independence separate from their adjoining Indonesian islands undid the friendship. Continued acceptance by Australia of Indonesian possession of West Papua helped redress the balance in diplomatic relations.

The ups-and-downs certainly have continued. Such things as the Bali bombings and animal cruelty on one side and criticism of not stopping boat people and bugging phone calls on the other have seen to that.

But when you examine the current statements by Australian and Indonesian leaders, the differences that some of the media in both countries are describing as “a crisis” do not amount to much. When compared with those accompanying those previous differences they are mild.


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