5 November 2018
Transcript - #2018062, 2018

Opening remarks with Indonesian Minister of Finance, Sri Mulyani Indrawati, Parliament House, Canberra

Subjects: Australia/Indonesia Memorandum of Understanding.

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

Ladies and gentlemen, it’s my very warm pleasure to welcome to Australia, Minister Mulyani as a guest of Government. Selamat datang to Minister Mulyani and her husband who are here for a couple of days.

Minister Mulyani is a leader internationally, respected abroad as well as in Indonesia for the important economic reforms that she has undertaken, but also for her leading role that she’s played at the World Bank as a former Managing Director.

Australia and Indonesia have a very important and close relationship. Indeed, Indonesia is the fourth most populist country in the world, the third largest democracy in the world, Australia’s second nearest neighbour and the world’s largest Muslim nation; is a giant by any standard.

And the Indonesian economy continues to grow strongly with annual growth 5 per cent. So our two countries will continue to work very closely across a variety of areas and today we discussed the comprehensive strategic economic partnership, where negotiations were recently concluded when Prime Minister Morrison was in Indonesia and we are moving towards signing that important agreement.

We also discussed today, the cooperation between Indonesia’s Ministry of Finance and the Australian Treasury Department and today we will be signing an updated MoU. Currently, Australia has Treasury officials working in Indonesia and Indonesia has their officials working here in Australia.

Indeed, over the last five years, there has been some 30 exchanges in personnel and our ability to share ideas, share perspectives on economic fiscal taxation policy is absolutely critical to the close partnership that our countries share.

So Minister Mulyani, thank you too for hosting recently, the IMF/World Bank/G20 meeting in Bali. That was a great success and it was a real credit to Indonesia.

And finally, can I say, on a more sombre note, our country extends its condolences to you and to President Widodo for the tragic loss of life in the recent Lion Air disaster. The Ministry of Finance lost 21 officials and a spouse of one of those officials and coming after the tragic earthquake in Lombok and earthquake and tsunami in Sulawesi. It’s indeed making for a very difficult time in Indonesia, but our friendship and our partnership means that we are there for each other at difficult times, just as Indonesia has been there for Australia at difficult times.

Thank you for coming here. You are most warmly welcome in our country and thank you for the partnership between Australia and Indonesia, your Department, the Ministry of Finance and the Department of Treasury.

MINISTER SRI MULYANI INDRAWATI:

Thank you very much for the invitation to become the guest of the Government. It is a very productive meeting and always feel welcome in Canberra and Australia.

The relationship between Ministry of Finance and Treasury Australia was actually initiated a long time ago, 12 years ago, and we learn a lot from Australia. We have many [inaudible] in facilitating this partnership. We learn from the policy, we learn from the institutional study, we learn from the reform, we learn also from the strategy and the institutional capacity.

As Treasurer mentioned earlier, Indonesia is among the largest democracies in the world. We are moving very fast from centralised to decentralised economy, politically as well as fiscally. That’s also created dynamic as well as a challenge.

So Indonesia has a lot of opportunity to learn from Australia but also at the same time providing a platform of relationship and partnership which is strong and stronger and stronger.

I also appreciate the support from Australia in strengthening joint research and policy discussion. We have had a high policy level discussion with Australia, both among the academic and policy maker as well as among-between the Indonesian policy maker and the Australian policy maker.

I think this kind of tradition, providing a very robust relationship in any relationship in any country, we always have ups and downs. But we can be very certain, the relationship between many of the individual policy makers is always a focus.

So, we really appreciate the support as well as the continued commitment of the Australian Government in strengthening this partnership.

We will explore more as Indonesia is growing at a rate of about 5 per cent, growing middle class, we are becoming a very vibrant. We also want to make sure that the [inaudible] is not always concentrated in Java island. So that’s becoming more important for us, to understand our neighbour and to make sure that the neighbour relationship become the source of strength for the Indonesian strategy in expanding and strengthening our diplomacy across the Indonesian region.

So, really appreciate the warm welcome here and also appreciate the initiative to renew our MoU and of course, with that, I am sure that Indonesia and Australia relationship will continue to be positive and strong.

Thank you so much.