For decades, Australia has debated whether Indonesia poses an opportunity or a threat. Until 2009, Australia’s Defence White Papers clearly presented Indonesia, with its poverty and failing state institutions, as a potential threat, aside from the role it could play in security cooperation. However, since 2013, Australia’s Defence White Papers have shifted towards engagement, asserting that the two countries share many common security interests. Public views, though, remain the same: a 2016 AIC survey found that 59 per cent of Australians see Indonesia as trustworthy.
Hugh White’s “The Jakarta Switch” makes an important case for why Australians should see opportunity in Indonesia, though his argument has some shortcomings.