John Howard has recently visited Bali, albeit for 'just a few daylight hours', as the Weekend Australian of July 28-29, 2007 observes. His visit was mainly to open an eye hospital, dedicated to the Bali bombing visits. Such a hospital plays a vital role, and having seen at first hand what work like this (based on the Fred Hollows legacy) can mean in people's lives, I'd consider such institutions essential elements of Australian aid in the region.
At the same time a new consulate-general has at last been opened, but again the Prime Minister defended the travel warnings that are meant to deter Australians from coming to Indonesia. His disingenuous comment that 'we are leaving it to the judgment of individual Australians to decide what to do' ignores the fact that these warnings have an institutional role. For example, the Endeavour Language Teacher Fellowships (ELTF) 'are an Australian Government initiative which offer practising and trainee (pre-service) language teachers an opportunity to improve their language proficiency and cultural knowledge through an intensive, short-term study programme', as their blurb says, but for Indonesian language teachers, they only support travel to an intensive program in Darwin. Now I've got nothing against the lovely city of Darwin and their excellent language teaching facilities, but if Arabic teachers can go to Jordan, Chinese teachers to China, etc, why does the Department of Education and Training, which funds this scheme, not sponsor Indonesian teachers to go to Indonesia (answer presumably, travel warnings)?