Kevin Rudd’s speech at the Australia-Indonesia Conference Dinner

Politicians are often criticized for being all talk and no substance, but for me Kevin Rudd, Australia’s current Prime Minister seems to be one of the worst. I read through his speech which he gave at the Australia-Indonesia Conference Dinner which was published in the Jakarta Post.

I wonder if he was trying to be funny when he said, “in the year 2008, the President of Indonesia, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and I met on seven occasions. We’ve now entered that into the Guinness Book of Records under the bilateral relations heading.”

In 1,840 words we learn that he has met the President of Indonesia a few times and the two countries have helped each other out a few times during natural disasters.

For anyone from Australia or Indonesia with an interest in either country, there was nothing in the speech that gave you anything to look forward to. Wouldn’t it be nice to see the relationship between Australia and Indonesia go a little beyond what we have now. The average Australian’s knowledge of Indonesia doesn’t go beyond Bali and perhaps a place to build a few more new mines.

In today’s Jakarta Post I also read how there is less interest in people studying about Indonesia in Australia and Curtin University have even closed down their Indonesia department.

Not only are Indonesian specialists from Australia an endangered species, but if Indonesian courses continue to be closed at universities across the country, as has happened this year at Curtin University in Perth, WA, they will become an extinct one too.

To close Indonesian courses at Australian universities based purely on financial issues is an incredibly shortsighted step to take. Pro-Vice Chancellor David Wood and Vice Chancellor Jeanette Hacket, who are responsible for these closures, have acted in complete contradiction to the stated aims of the Federal and State governments, and of the university itself.

In short, like many others, I am appalled at the treatment of staff and students in the Indonesian department at the hands of the Vice Chancellors of Curtin University.

I am also dismayed and thoroughly embarrassed at the narrow-minded decision to scrap Indonesian language courses and will be relocating to a different university next year.

3 Comments »

  1. Rob Said,

    March 5, 2009 @ 1:23 am

    I thought that I heard somewhere that the Rudd Government was looking to reinvigorate the relationship by throwing some additional money at Indonesian studies in Australia…oh well!

    I am thinking of going back home and capitalizing on this money and using my Indonesian skills to train up the next generation of Australians seeking to engage with this diverse land.

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    March 12, 2009 @ 11:03 pm

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  3. Christine Sidrak Said,

    April 8, 2009 @ 5:49 pm

    I definately agree with this.
    I am a University student with a passion for the Indonesian people and the language. Studying Indonesian in High School was one of the best decisions Iv ever made, and to see that Indonesian courses are being closed down due to a decrese in interest upsets me. Indonesia is Australia’s closest neighbour with such unique culture. Yes, Rudd is correct in commenting on our aid with Indonesia during their natural disasters, but is the relationship between Indonesia and Australia going to improve? Is there anything to look forward to?
    I really hope the relationship strengthens! Indonesia is such a diverse country! 🙂

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