Duncan Graham, who runs a blog called Indonesia Now, responds to Sam Roggeveen's post about Australia-Indonesia relations:
The situation is unbalanced. We go there in thousands – few come here. Count the number of Asians in aircraft arriving in Australia from Indonesia.
The relationship is unlikely to mature until large numbers of ordinary Indonesians are able to visit Australia and see for themselves how we live and work, and we meet them in the workplace and socially. This is in addition to the wealthy and educated elite that seems to form the majority of Indonesians in Australia and who, in my experience, tend to have limited contact with the wider society. (Not always their fault — we're not that welcoming and friendly.)
The working holiday visa is a good start – unfortunately with a cap of 100 it will have minimal impact. Allowing Indonesians to work in the horticulture industry under the scheme that permits temporary entry to Pacific Islanders and East Timorese would also assist. Sadly, few skilled and semi-skilled Indonesians will be able to jump the high English language hurdles to work in the mining industry unless given assistance – an opportunity here for Australian educational institutions.
In brief, the people-to-people contact regularly raised in the debate needs to be given substance. I understand some of the obstacles are being erected by Indonesian bureaucrats and these need to be challenged. Other barriers include Indonesians being unable to use the E-visa system.
Whatever we do relationships will never improve unless we go beyond trade, security and defence. They're not the foundations for long-lasting friendship and respect.