Committee reports on security treaty with Indonesia

Back in February, I wrote about the inquiry by the Parliament’s Treaties Committee into Australia’s new security agreement with Indonesia. I’ve long been vocal about my concerns with human rights abuses in West Papua, but I have also tried to emphasise and encourage some of the major democratic advances Indonesia has made in recent years.

The Committee tabled its report in the Parliament today. Not surprisingly, it recommended that the Treaty be adopted, and not surprisingly, I dissented from that. Although I think it is crucial for us to have better and stronger relations with Indonesia, I think the cracks that are still there in our relationship and our (mis)understandings are simply too wide at present to satisfactorily paper over them with a treaty such as this. However, the report had four other recommendations which I thought showed some positive signs – these are detailed below. These were aimed both at encouraging more openness about West Papua and human rights, and also towards making Australians more aware of the positive changes that have been happening in Indonesia.

There is a strong tendency in Australia to be dismissive towards Indonesia’s institutions of governance, whilst ignoring the shortcomings in our own. To use a small but relevant example of how we could have some things to learn from their very new democracy, Indonesia’s Parliament actually has the power to veto or amend a Treaty like this one, while Australia’s doesn’t – our government has the power to do as it likes, regardless of what our Parliament thinks about it.

You can read the report by clicking here.

The four extra recommendations from the Committee’s report are:

Recommendation 1
The Committee recommends that the Australia Government continue to address widely expressed concerns about human rights in Indonesia with the Indonesian Government and in appropriate international fora.

Recommendation 2
The Committee recommends that the Australian Government increase transparency in defence cooperation agreements to provide assurance that Australian resources do not directly or indirectly support human rights abuses in Indonesia.

Recommendation 3
The Committee recommends that the Australian Government encourage the Indonesian Government to allow greater access for the media and human rights monitors in Papua.

Recommendation 4
The Committee recommends that the Australian Government engage in a campaign to increase public support for the Australia – Indonesia relationship. This campaign would have the goal of increasing awareness of the democratic reforms in Indonesia and the value to Australian security of strong relations with Indonesia.

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19 Comments

  1. most people who have worked or lived in indo ‘know’ the social system & how the gov works or not.

    some close friends who work there [credible] have told me a similar stories.

    a state is NOT a static idea e.g., oz has changed a great deal since i was a ‘child’ in the western suburbs of melb.

    as far as i can tell, indo is run by a system of ‘families’ in major cities. the rest of indo is NOT one thing, but a series of over-lapping spheres of influence [this has a lot in common with most other nations].

    sby is a very competent person who ‘knows’ how the system works in his own country [i am sure his security services are at least, better based on on my view of their head of security, as oz].

    in fact, i think oz security services are riddled with ‘spies’ & other people who put OTHER countries first. further, based on what i have seen, such as asio chief guru, our security services are novices [compared to a really paranoid SSS, such as mossad] who merely report what our gov wants to hear. thus, our security services must be improved before we can ‘help’ indo.

    can security be improved for indo with our help?

    will protests about human rights abuses help? no. do indo have human rights abuses? probably. can we DO any thing about it? no. i think may be oz is in a VERY weak position wrt the muslim world generally, esp’ given the hysterical ranting of jc & gwb & the west generally.

    i have a serious PROBLEM with the west’s ATTITUDE toward muslims, at a global level. oz does NOT offer any thing to indo, except the usual banal slop.

    so, what to do? well, oz can not get it’s own act together, how can we expect to be any use to indo [except $$$’s & ensure that the money goes where it is supposed to go, such as for earth-quakes etc…].

    on average, the people oz sends to indo are FULL of them-selves/christian/spies etc… why should indo TRUST any of our people? in their shoes, i simply do NOT trust any of our pollies. so, how could we fix matters?

  2. well, for a start, only send people who the indos’s TRUST [who can SHUT_THEIR_MOUTH] & offers skills that they need.

    for example, me. would the indo’ gov trust me? yes. why? i agrre with many ‘terrorists’ about the facts wrt the west & corp greed; i do NOT agree with ji or other groups who run around killing people – it will not work any way.

    given my views stated on this blog site, abc, & other public forums, i could negotiate with ANY of the power groups, INCLUDING bashir.

    first, i offer a COMPLETE financial system i.e., i could build the entire financial system in indo from scratch.

    second, i have already tried to claim polly asylum to indo – i knew the facts. i cannot work in this country because of the gross incompetence of our polly system & systems of power i.e., i also think that our security services are a bit on the silly side.

    third, i have a COMPLETE system of education [and health] from top to bottom. in fact, my posts have been a general outline of a frame work for these systems.

    fourth, i am NOT a rascist, a christian fanatic, or any other jihad jjj type – my focus is on USEFUL social outcomes for ALL indonesia AND a global system of FAIR trade.

    fifth, i do NOT build systems, i GIVE CREDIT TO THE LOCALS by simply asking good questions i.e., i am NOT a threat to the families in indo’.

    sixth, many foreign countries rip the indo’s off thru HUGE fees, corrupt payments, and lack of credit facilities [esp’ foreign banks] & proper investment MANAGEMENT systems.

    so, u see, the best bet for oz wrt security [including military] is me.

    of course, i would require ‘supervision’ by a spook or three?

    andrew, why not trot along to your security panel & make the proposal?

    i have an OPEN strategy, thus any ‘foreign’ spooks of any description, will see that it is in their interests & oz.

    long term, the most secure aspect of indo is if they have some sort of JUST/fair exchange systems; this is in oz LONG_term security interests.

  3. As our immediate neighbour with a population which dwarfs our own, Indonesia has been tacit threat to this country almost as long as as it
    has been in existance as a modern independant nation.

    It is remarkable how quickly Indonesia transformed from a “cinderella” nation, oppressed by an invasive european colonial power and yearning for independance and political freedom,to a brutal empire/colonial power
    itself.

    To me indonesia is best thought of as “The javan
    Empire” and has activly sought to extend Javan political and religious control over other disparate cultural populations on the other islands of the archipelego, by the aggressive export of Javan muslim migrants, thereby creating a local culturally aligned support base,
    in each reigon colonised, as well as by the aggressive activities of of military and paramilitary forces.

    Indonesia is a threat, because of its population size,which gives it enormous infantry capacity, as well as the power of its senior military leaders in politics and business, their ruthlessness, and their ability even now to act almost independantly of even the current government.
    It is also a threat because it has a track record of aggressive absorbtion and attempted absorbtion of its neighbours by military and political means, which spanned the soviet aligned
    sukano regieme, and the even more corrupt right wing suharto regieme.
    Indonesia indicated that after the absorbtion of east timor in the 1970s “That it had no more territorial demands” but considering how much power the generals still exert politically that statement should always be regarded with, the cynicism it deserves.

    Of course the absorbtion of West Papua and East Timor were conducted with the full permission of the uk & us respectivly.
    Which highlights the absolute failure of the
    australian foriegn affairs dept to ensure international policy outcomes which favour our needs, and provide better long term stability for this region. more soon

  4. Indonesia is also a threat because it has a huge population of poor people with a low standard of living, divorced from better economic opportunities.
    With the low socioeconomic achievement,and the current emphasis on religious rather than academic education for many, these people are vulnerable to the proslyetising efforts of radical islam or even self serving political movements and could in future be rallied en masse against us.A la the celebes and southern phillipines.

    The touchstone could easily be our perfectly understandable desire to achieve a better outcome for indigenous West Papuans in the future.

    Because of its potential to be an unstable regional “500 lb gorilla” it is natural for us
    to try to avoid conflict and promote cooperation with indonesia on a whole raft of issues that benefit us.

    However the approach that foreign affairs seems to have promoted since the ascent of suharto seems to be blatent appeasment, thereby giving indonesia the political initiative/advantage in the relationship (which except for a short period after the de colonisation of east timor )it has retained.
    This has resulted in a blatent lack of respect for australia by the suharto regime, which continues to this day at senior levels in their beaurocracy and armed forces.
    Nothing could illustrate this better than the execution of our journalists during the invasion of east Timor these men really did not represent
    a security threat, if they were, they could easily have ben detained till a later date when
    their information would have had no impact on current military activities.
    Their execution was a calculated political message to the australian government of the day that indonesia could do what it liked to us and we could nothing about it.
    Further it could treat this nation and its citizens with contempt at will.
    Our response to this clear message then and now has been to play into their hands by failing to play hardball diplomacy.

  5. What a pitiful lot of comments here.The Doctor has some sort of knowledge about everyone,as government,who goes to Indonesia.Must have insider knowledge,nudge nudge wink wink.Then ,he also has a comprehensive education thing,although,little old non-doctor me couldnt quite understand him. At least when that criticism is fired at me,then, I cannot use the Dr. stuff. Me and Mr.Jones havent got a thing going on. All the usual rhetoric ,that disallows almost by the insistence of self-merit,the potential, and, real… good relationships at a personal level that can be had, without a national border reality.. effecting the relationship.I am not frightened of Indonesians,and why should I be!? I dont even care if the government to government thing deteriorates as it will from time to time. As an Australian I can be angry and sad about the Justice system there,but shit,are we a guiding light!? Dont think so!? We arent even offering the Indonesian justice system personnel a working holiday,expenses paid,study of our legal processes,like something like that is unthinkable!? Its all token stuff from us.And I am on the side the poor of Indonesia,even if they hate us.And it is simple to understand,I would like them to be able to improve their lives,and the yardstick or measure isnt the absence of Muslim or Islamic matters.We Australians seem to accept American troops into our lands with great ease,but,if a larger contingent of Indonesians arrived,and travelled down our roads to pick up materials,from metals all the way through to educational matters,is it a shock that I think this should happen and happen soon!? I do not think Australians should feel threaten by Indonesian troops as feel threatened by our attitudes.If we stick to a boring an unproductive approach in military stance as much as any other,we will be boring our minds to bits. Move on and experiment before we condemn both nations to the abyss of moronic boredom!?

  6. i dont think that indo is a threat to oz.
    why would they want what will be left after th e u.s. and the u.k. has taken what they can and the govt has turned oz into a waste dump for the rest of the world .
    indo has been there long before australia became a country and the way things are gowing will probably be there long after australia is named something elce.

    what rite has australia have to critasise any other country over the way they treat there ppl .we must fix up the way we treat our own indig ppl first.

  7. In my opinion responsibility for that failure must fall directly on the shoulders of the
    Indonesian desk in our foreign affairs dept.

    As an average citizen it is impossable for me to know what really goes on within diplomatic circles, but just as astronomers can find distant planets they cannot see, by the gravitational disturbance these planets exert on stars that can be seen, i think it is possible to broadly gauge the diplomatic policys that foreign affairs want implemented, by the actions of past and current ministers and prime ministers.
    In general i believe that mostly, ministers are mere mouthpieces, for the professional diplomats and policymakers in the foreign affairs dept (as in most other government depts)and that it would be a “courageous” politician who insisted on actions contary to their wishes.
    However in the case of east Timor, the current Prime Minister chose to do so, and proved that
    standing up to indonesia not only resulted in an
    excellent outcome for the timorese, but a healthy exchange of dominance in Canberra
    /Jakarta diplomacy, Australia now for the first time in decades having the upper hand in the relationship.I believe that the beauracrats at the “Indonesian desk” were profoundly embarressed that the “sky did not fall” in over the issue, and that to the contary to their expectations our position was strengthened not weakened by our actions (Despite megawati sukanoputries pique over the situation and natural desire to regain the upper hand for her country)
    Thereby demonstrating that their policy direction had been the exact opposite of what it should have been for all these years.
    Morover i believe that that reversal of policy
    forced indonesia to take us seriously for the first time since the “confrontation” under Sukarno.
    The obvious danger for Indonesia in this situation is that a confident Australia might act to restore the independance of West papua in the future.(Which indonesia invaded then colonised) more to follow.

  8. i have just read andrews note on the treaty – nicely written & i agree.

    what does it mean to have “independence” in an inter-dependent world?

    is ANY country independent? oz depends on usa for a nuke umbrella, a legacy of the cold war & the hordes coming south [generally of the commo type].

    a treaty is not worth the paper it is written on, if a number of things are not meet [like ANY contract between two or more parties]. for example, the treaty between hitler & stalin to carve up poland.

    could wp stand on its own in a modern world? no. could wp, with a POS attitude from indo, stand WITH indo on its own? yes, if systems of checks & balances are put in play [in some sense, these terms should be done under the UN sanction WITH some means of making sure that the ‘natives’ do NOT get nailed to several crosses, over and over AGAIN].

    so, the treaty with indo & oz needs a bit more, along the lines suggested by andrew [a few ‘small’ changes along the lines suggested by andrew & hugh white seems possible, IFF the oz gov has a good attitude].

  9. Once again with US & UK approval and Australian Govt (foreign affairs dept)assistance thereby creating a touchstone for military and political conflict involving Australia & indonesia for many many decades.

    As we should have in East Timor, as soon our govt became aware of the Indonesion intention to invade we should have rushed a “Military Assistance Force” into place as temporary peacekeepers prior to elections and independant
    nationhood.
    Once our forces were on the ground in that capacity the US would not have supported an indonesian invasion as we would have taken responsibility at least in the short term for their stability.
    This would have removed the far more dangerous
    potential, of later conflict over the issue once indonesian colonization has taken place,
    and they had formal claim as indonesian soil,
    where we could be portrayed as invaders of the homeland, not competitors for control of a neighbouring state, if we tried to do something about this most unsatisfactory situation.

    Having this control would have allowed us to guide these developing nations in the way we have with New Guinea.
    With Australia friendly governments providing a strategic springboard for australian military forces in the region, and an eastern boundary to contain further Indonesian expansion, and much better access for australian companies to the oil & mineral resources of these nations than we have ever recieved under indonesian control.

    Whilst providing the citizens of these countries
    with a much better outcome than they will ever have recieved under Indonesian rule.

    We had the capacity to achieve this but i believe this was contrary to the policy of appeasment of our foreign affairs dept, and therefore our politicians fell into line with the thinking of the professionals.

    The policies and methodology which we use in our
    engagement with Indonesia have much wider implications for Australia with our other regional neighbours. more to follow

  10. i think what u say is clear & reasonable, based on well-known facts in the public domain.

    HOWEVER,

    what oz did do is of no relevance – u are buried in the past, mr jones.

    history can teach us what went wrong for a given context, not what or how we should act going forward. u whole set of ideas is critical with out a sensible set of options going forward.

    thus, so called professionals need to focus on policy options going FORWARD, rather than finger pointing, whether justified or not.

    new social realities [e.g., change of attitude on both sides of the fence] mean that new options can be GENERATED via a ‘story’ in a complex game. of course, these stories musthave a VISION of what the end-game might look like at some future date.

    the trouble with historians is that they do not seem to realize is that history NEVER repeats; thus, the slogan that “those who do not study history are doomed to repeat it” are buried in a past that is DED.

    we need people who have VISION are creativity, NOT some one bent on the notion of revenge. of course, some aspects of the TYPE of social play does repeat itself, such as “julius ..” or “jesus” or “buddha” or “gandhi” or “M.L. KING”, etC…

    so, what are your policy options and what do u see going forward? what is YOUR vision?

    how can u check for errors & how will u know when or if errors occur? how BIG is the error and so on?

  11. Ther are some points of Joneses that do not need contesting,they are as valid as a Defense posture,his views are Defense like views but,maybe not enlisted types.The way forward is to note the country has difficulties,and Australia maybe able to help.I doubt wether any thinking Australian or Indonesian will find it easy to forget the differences,but they are not the problem..it is fairly easy to agree with people on some issues,and be reliant on that as a way to move forward where ever we can.And drop the needless boredom for a suggestion or three and experiment,wherever there is a potential to do so.So what would be wrong with any Military person that has been to West Papua driving along our roads or even a train,past Somerville in Victoria to Lysaghts at Hastings,and other metal manufacturing sights sites !? Nothing.. accept for obvious matters of safety skills.

  12. yes,

    phil.

    safety skill_$$$,
    as the conTEXT changes is a reAl art,
    comes down to a set of adaptive ideas,
    conDUCT, in any eco system,
    in pLUCK_eee, of binDI^I,
    for any conTENT,
    in just play

    of justice?

    this is a song=make all lines of equal length
    in strength?

  13. Sorry for being long winded on this, but i feel the need to explain how i interpret our past history, in order to justify how i percieve the future.
    Also to give others an opportunity to falsify my perspectives, based on their own data.

    Note the substantial improvement in our political penetration, of the region ,and the respect accorded us from our neighbours (despite the huffing and puffing regionally at the time.)
    Since our deployment in East Timor.

    I believe that the ALP (Keating and others) policy of Increasing the Asian genetic footprint
    in this country, in order to make us racially and culturally acceptable to the region,simply made us the laughing stock of our neighbours(behind closed doors)i firmly believe this policy was driven by our foriegn affairs dept.
    Of course this was siezed upon by our neighbours
    as a diplomatic weapon “par excellance” if they needed to sieze the initiative on an issue,then
    all they had to do was point the finger and cry “racist”(ignoring the reality of our society)
    Culminating in the Paul Keating personally negotiated defence treaty,with Indonesia.
    Never before have i seen such a blatent example of “The Emperors New Clothes” in politics.
    In which our prime minister promised to made one
    of our core defence technologies availabe to Indonesia (Jindalee Radar)in exchange for a paper promise not to invade us.
    Of course ownership would have strengthened Indonesias military cababilities against us in the region,whilst allowing them to evaluate the systems shortcomings, and develop stratagies and countermeasures, to use against us.
    All for a worthless promise, which ignored the reality that conflict between us was always far more likely (as in the past)to be on someone elses ground rather than in continental Australia.
    Though its increased capability threat, would obviously have the effect of reducing the likelyhood of effective military / political opposition to Indonesias long term regional aims, by Australia.

  14. Paul Keating may have gotten a better price for his pig farm as a result, but diplomatically it would have considerably constrained our future actions.
    I have always felt that THE WHOLE IDEA WAS PRESENTED TO HIM as an opportunity for a personal
    diplomatic triumph, by the Indonesian desk of our
    foreign affairs dept.
    AND HE WAS VAIN ENOUGH TO GO FOR IT.
    After all i do not think Keating would have dreamed of proceeding with the idea (even if it was his own) without their approval, AND AT THE VERY LEAST THEY OBVIOUSLY GAVE IT.
    So why would our foreign affairs have backed/created a treaty which was so obviously
    in Indonesias interest and not in our own?
    I believe simply because it was an extension of their policy of appeasment which had been in place for years.
    With the unstated but cringing message that “We are no threat to you and we will demonstrate thst by allowing you strategic access to our military.
    For example joint training with special forces
    allows the Indonesians to learn and understand S.A.S tactics (which were so successful against them during the confrontation)and develop countermeasures.Whilst increasing the effectiveness of the Tni against insurgents in Timor and West Papua (who would be/would have been, our natural allies an any conflict with the Indonesians.
    Frankly (with the exception of islamic extremists who are a threat to us,and against whom, our training of Indonesian special forces seems to have been quite inefective, until the last five years)we are i think advantaged by an Indonesian focus on the cultural brushfires which
    erupt reguarly (and with good reason) within the Javan empire, as it concentrates their activities internally and reduces their focus externally
    There are persistamt anecdotes of special forces on both sides conducting lrrp ops over the PNG/West Papua border.
    On the other hand i doubt we learned anything of value from them.
    More to follow

  15. some people can waste your time andrew.

    thus, i suggest that u focus on people
    and views that have an open mind,
    and a sense of humble pie of any size
    to see with u own eyes the lies of liers
    that lay in the hay of crazed hate pliers.

    this is a basis for a chorus for a sin song
    in pong & ping in the ding dong sin-a-long?

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