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Australia Indonesia relations

The corporatisation of universities in Australia and elsewhere over the last two decades has been part of the general implementation of what was called in the 1980s ‘economic rationalism’, now more frequently referred to as neo-liberalism. This comprises a steady dismantling of the welfare state in order to reduce taxes and other imposts on both individuals and corporations generating high incomes or profits.

A part of the dismantling of the welfare state has involved the slashing of budget for staffing and research at universities. It has also seen the introduction of student fees and government enforcement of a policy to make universities also generate somC of their own income through commercially profitable activities.

Ideologically, even in the early 1980s, the pressure was on for all sections of the universities to prove their usefulness to the political, economic, social and cultural agenda set within the framework of economic rationalism and the dismantling of the welfare state. In the field of Asian Studies, there was much talk of presenting Asian Studies as something useful to the private sector. Universities almost competed to set up research centres that depicted themselves as being useful to understanding the region in the context of the needs of the private sector. A result of this more-or-less systematic accommodation of a philosophical or strategic orientation set by the government’s new agenda has been the decline in government resources being made available to Asian Studies in universities.


The Australian government is about to sign a new security agreement with the Indonesian government. I have not seen the text of this agreement, however regardless of any specifics this is not a good development in terms of the Australian government's intervention into political processes in Indonesia. Any security agreement with the Indonesian government will require intensified cooperation with the Indonesian Armed Forces. (click 'more' below to continue reading, incl. for review of RELUCTANT SAVIOUR.).)

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A friend recently sent me a copy of a review I wrote in the 1980s of the Australian film "A Year of Living Dangerously" based on the novel of the same name. Click below to read. (You will have to use your Adobe commands to turn the article the right way round, sorry.)

Download file

On 16 August, in Sydney, I attended a public lecture organised by UNIYA, a Jesuit think tank. The topic was: Good Neighbour, Bad Neighbour - What's the difference? Australia's relations with Indonesia.
The speakers were:
A. Sidney Jones, Director of the South East Asia Project at the International Crisis Group, Jakarta,
B. Prof Peter King, Founding President, later Director, of the Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies at Sydney University and
C. Prof Frank Brennan, Professor of Law in the Institute of Legal Studies at the Australian Catholic University; former Director, Jesuit Refugee Service in East Timor.

The venue was the Eugene Goossens Hall, at the ABC Centre. Between 80-100 people attended in the quite large hall. I only recognised a few of those present. I think the bulk of those there come from the active Catholic constituency, with a sprinkling of university people and activists.

The speeches and discussion were disappointingly narrow, with the subject of the relations between the two countries (peoples, societies, governments??) being viewed very myopically.


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This blog is aimed to foster serious discussion on international and asian affairs.