This is the right way to go, says John McCarthy, former ambassador to the United States, Indonesia and Japan and high commissioner to India.
“Australia’s regional policy has become unbalanced – a heavy emphasis on blocs to counter China – such as the Quad and AUKUS – and too little weight on policies to engage ASEAN, which is an area key to contesting with China,” he said.
“Labour seems to want to bring balance back into our politics.”
The Albanian government can use trade deals such as the Indonesia-Australia Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement to advance Australia’s regional influence, commentators say.
Bilateral trade ties are important, but Australia should aim for regional leadership, says Hervé Lemahieu, research director at the Lowy Institute in Sydney
China and Japan have shown how envoys can get results, and Australia could do the same in Southeast Asia.
Mr Lemahieu said the envoy should roll up his sleeves and practice “old-school Australian diplomacy – pragmatic and problem-solving oriented”.
“What is needed are personal connections that transcend the formalities and structures of ASEAN summits,” he said.
Teuku Rezasyah, an international policy expert at Padjadjaran University in Bandung, West Java, said ASEAN countries appreciate Australia’s long history with the bloc. Canberra backed their formation in the 1970s. An adjustment now would be timely, he said.
Australia’s views and vision in the Indo-Pacific would be more valued if linked to ASEAN, as opposed to the AUKUS security pact with the UK and US, said Mr Teuku.
He also thinks the Albanian government should rethink Australia’s position on its participation in the G20 forum this year.
This event is a priority for Indonesia, the host. The leaders’ meeting scheduled for Bali in November became deeply controversial after Russia invaded Ukraine.
The Morrison government had made it clear that it would not attend the Bali forum if Russian President Vladimir Putin was present. Jakarta invited the Russian leader. It is not clear if he will be present.
“Australia’s new prime minister is expected to attend the G20 summit,” Teuku said. “If America, Britain and other countries are not present, Australia can express the position of Western countries in the G20. In this respect, no other country is better placed than Australia. Australia.
Long-term observers of Australia’s ties with Indonesia hope the election result will reinvigorate the relationship.
A simpler and cheaper visa application process for Indonesians traveling to Australia could yield immediate gains, said Ross Taylor, president of the Indonesian Institute.
Indonesian President Joko Widodo spoke about the difficulty of obtaining visas during his last visit to Australia in February 2020.
Although regulations have been relaxed during the pandemic, permanent change is needed, Taylor said.
“We urge the new prime minister to ask his immigration minister to immediately change the visa requirements that currently deter Indonesians from choosing to study or vacation in Australia.”