Honourable John Cobb MP, Chairman of Australia-Indonesia Parliamentary Group,
Air Chief Marshall Mark Binskin, Chief of Defence Force,
Your Excellency Mr. Chris Cannan, Chief of Protocol,
Your Excellency Mr. Pedro Villagra Delgado, senior Colleague and Dean of Diplomatic Corps,
Excellency, Heads of Mission in Australia,
Distinguished guests, Dear Friends, ladies and gentlemen,
It truly gives me a great pleasure to welcome you to my residence to celebrate the 69th anniversary of the Indonesian independence. I am duty-bound to expressmy sincere thanks to you for sparing your tight schedule and sharing this lovely day with us. It is always nice to be surrounded by colleagues and friends.
The independence of the Republic of Indonesiawas proclaimed on the 17th of August 1945. For 250 million Indonesians, the Independence Dayis a special moment to reflect on the struggles of the founders of the nation who bravely fought for Indonesia’s independence.It is also a moment to reflect on the nation’s transformation since 1945up until the recent days and to reinvigorate the fighting spirit for a victory, a better future of Indonesia.
This year, the celebration of the Independence Day is even more special as Indonesians also celebrate “the democratic fiesta” through the accomplishment of general election both legislative and presidential all over Indonesia. As you have watched, despite all of the dynamics, the elections have been concluded in a peaceful, democratic, and transparent manner. To be the third largest democratic country in the world is a struggle in itself. It’s a long winding road of discover and lessons for the nation. To date, we are humbled by the recognition of the international community on thisdemocratictransformation, and its journey that is ongoing.
It remains fresh in our mind how Indonesia has struggled since the Reform Era in 1998. Once a country on the brink of disintegration and economic collapsewith a myriad of challenges, now Indonesia has transformed into a country of achievements and hopes. Internally, Indonesia has become stronger,united, and prosperous.With a consistent annual GDP growth of around 6%, Indonesia for many years has been the third fastest growing economy among the G20 and now is the world’s 16th largest economy. Externally, we are proud to have become a net contributor to the promotion of peace, stability, and prosperity in the region and beyond through our activism in various organizations and forums.
In achieving these, Indonesia has been surrounded by friends, the fighters for a good cause. In retrospect, when struggling for independence in the 1940s, Indonesians received supports the international community, including Australia – of which Indonesians are most grateful. The expressions of solidarity by Australians to the young Republic had since established a bond of friendship and become the foundation of relations between the two nations and peoples.
The past decade has witnessed an excellent state of the relations between Indonesia and Australia. The two-way trade registered more than 11 billion dollars with a prospect of further expansion as the two countries is negotiating the Indonesia-Australia Comprehensive Economic Partnership. People-to-people links have proliferated, providing a stronger basis for mutual understanding between the two different cultures. Australia is home to more than 17,000 Indonesian students while more Australians travel to Indonesia every year. In the same spirit, the Government of Australia has launched The New Colombo Plan to provide a valuable opportunity for Australian youths to study and know more about Asia, including Indonesia.
It is true that over time relations between Indonesia and Australia have experienced some ups and down, twists and turns. I, ladies and gentlemen, even did a David Copperfield and disappeared for a while.
But these little ups and downs serve only as lessons in bettering our relationship. Strengthening its core, and hopefully it will only get better with time, just like the fine Australian wine from Barossa Valley.
The long history of Indonesia-Australia relations have proven that differences and problems could arise from time to time. However, the perseverance of both countries has transformed our relations into one that is hopefully on its journey towards being much stronger. It reminds us that the relationship should never be taken for granted, instead, it should be patiently and diligently nurtured.
As Indonesia is welcoming the new leadership next month, it is opportune for the two countries to step up and bring in a new and better chapter in its partnership, which is based on mutual trust and respect, shared interests, and most importantly common goals.
As a true believer in the virtue and effectiveness of good and peaceful relations among nations, I would say as neighbours, Indonesia and Australia need each other. As neighbours, there is no option for the two countries other than to be good friends and equal partners.
I am afraid I have spoken too long and we are getting too serious. I think it is not very good for our health too, since I know that we have been suffering the whole day from the “I don’t like Monday”syndrome. And the last thing we need is a Tuesday hangover.
So, on that note, please enjoy the delicious array of food that my wife Nino and the Indonesian ladies have kindly prepared for us all with love.
I thank you. ***