http://old.thejakartapost.com/detaileditorial.asp?fileid=20080617.F04&irec=3Kevin Rudd, JakartaThis article is an edited version of Australia's PM Kevin Rudd's speech at a recent luncheon in Jakarta hosted by the Indonesia Australia Business Council (IABC)
Of course our relationship extends far beyond the important area of security cooperation. We realize that bringing together a wide range of people from our countries pays real dividends. I am keen to see our people-to-people ties spread more widely.
I have said before that I want to make Australia the most Asia-literate country in the collective West. This is not a purely academic exercise -- although education is a critical part of the puzzle.
It is about increasing the chances for people from Australia to get together with people from countries around the region, to sit down and talk and learn about each other. We already have over 170,000 students studying Indonesian in Australia. I want to see that number rise.
The Australian government announced in the Budget that we are going to allocate $62 million over three years to boost the study of Asian languages in Australia.
Indonesian is one of the target languages, and part of the funding will go to helping language teachers in Australia spending some time in the country of the languages they teach.
And this is a two-way street. We want the people of Indonesia to have more opportunities to learn about Australia. So I was delighted today that we agreed to get officials to work on establishing a work and holiday visa program.
Another important element of our relationship is our regional cooperation.
Australia's future -- like that of Indonesia -- will depend on developments in our immediate neighborhood. We both want to see a stable, open and prosperous region develop.
Indonesia has long played a regional leadership role. As the earliest of the regional organizations, ASEAN has been a model for the region. It has shown how cooperation and dialog can be built in and has set an example of what can be achieved.
Australia is a strong supporter of ASEAN -- particularly having been its first dialog partner since 1974. We recognized early that Australia and ASEAN needed to build a partnership because we were after the same thing -- stability in our region.
Australia has a particularly close relationship with Indonesia in regional organizations.
Look at APEC for example. APEC has led the way in building cooperation across our broader region. Australia and Indonesia are the leaders of a task force within APEC that is looking at how to bring our experts across the region together. President Yudhoyono and I agreed to lift the tempo of this task force's work.
Furthermore President Yudhoyono and I agreed that we would take to the APEC Leaders' Meeting in Lima, Peru this year a joint proposal on how to better coordinate regional disaster response work.
We have a good history of cooperation to build on -- we worked together to set up the Indian Ocean tsunami warning system in 2005.
There is also another aspect to regional cooperation that I would like to talk about.
The working-level cooperation we have on matters like disaster relief has the capacity to make a real difference. But we also need to think about the bigger strategic question of what sort of regional institutions we want to see evolve throughout this century.
The rise of India and China is driving the region's economic growth -- and that of the wider world. And the region's share of the global economy is growing.
By 2020 Asia is expected to make up 45 percent of global GDP. It will account for one-third of global trade.
By 2020 Asia's share of global military spending will be nearly one-quarter. In other words, global economic and strategic weight is shifting to Asia. So we need to anticipate the consequences of these changes and work to shape the region's future.
One critical element of this is thinking about how to develop the next stage of our regional architecture. Because strong institutions are needed to underpin an open, stable and sustainable region.
Our existing regional institutions all have positive roles to play. APEC brings together a wide range of economies, including at the leaders level, every year.
ASEAN has led the way in developing a sense of community in Southeast Asia and it has formed the basis for a range of other important groupings -- ASEAN plus three (ASEAN and the Northeast Asian countries China, Japan and the Republic of Korea), and the ASEAN Regional Forum (ASEAN plus 11 others).
And the most recent addition is the East Asia Summit (bringing together ASEAN, the Northeast Asian countries and, Australia, New Zealand and India).
But we need to think about the next stage of evolution of our regional organizations. None of the existing mechanisms as currently configured is capable of achieving what the region needs to effectively shape the future.
Because what the region needs is an organization capable of handling political, economic and security dialog. An organization that brings together all of the major countries -- the United States, Indonesia, India, Japan, China and Australia. An organization also capable of marshaling cooperation and, where agreed, common action in these areas.That is why I announced last week that Australia will initiate consultations over the next six months in the region's capitals. We have appointed a high-level envoy, Dick Woolcott (a former Australian Ambassador to Indonesia of course) to carry out these consultations.
Next year, subject to those consultations, we would envisage the possibility of convening a conference of government and non-government representatives to advance the proposal. The proposal is an extension of APEC's original vision of an Asia-Pacific Community
. This proposal is not about economic or monetary union, or even a customs union. It is not about a political union. It is not about a security pact.It does not envisage any diminution in national sovereignty. Nor does it necessarily envisage any diminution of any of the existing regional bodies or existing security alliances or other similar arrangements.
The proposal embraces an Asia-Pacific Free Trade Agreement and other steps that we are already looking at towards greater economic integration in the region. But it must be about more than just economic cooperation. It should include confidence-building measures designed to promote greater openness, transparency and cooperation around the region.
In the early 1990s, Australia's Prime Minister Paul Keating and Indonesia's President Soeharto worked together to establish the APEC Leaders Meeting.
That meeting took APEC's work to the next level -- it made APEC the only forum that brings together the leaders of our region every year.
It is now time that we think about how to realize the original APEC vision of establishing an Asia Pacific Community. It is time to begin thinking about how our region should look in 2020.
I am pleased to announce today that the Australian Government intends to host in 2009 a major conference on the future of Australia-Indonesia relations.
Our goal is to bring together people who have had a long involvement with relations between our two countries and people who are experts and leaders in their fields but have perhaps not had the chance to get involved.
Australia and Indonesia come to each other with vastly different histories. One of us represents the Group of 77 -- the developing countries.
One of us is of the West. One predominantly Christian. The other, the world's most populous Muslim nation.
But we also come together with much in common. We are democracies that are committed to making a contribution to our region and to our world. We are committed to working with each other to build our relationship.
Today, in my talks with President Yudhoyono, we agreed to take our partnership to a new level. A new level that will build on our strong bilateral economic, political and security links.
But equally importantly, we made a new commitment to work in partnership in the world. We have much work to do to meet the challenges of our time -- from climate change and terrorism to sustainable development and response to natural disasters.
By combining our strengths, I believe that our partnership can be a model to the world of cooperation. I am committed to that goal.