Effective Public Diplomacy Is the Best Means for Australia To Advance Its Relationship with Indonesia

Major Essay 2: Resources / Notes

Course Title/ Context: Australian Foreign Policy

Question: Critically Examine the Claim that effective public diplomacy is the best means for Australia to advance its relationship with either India or Indonesia.

Student Comments:  Australian-Indonesian relations have been affected by a number of high profile and publicized incidents. The Bali Nine, capital punishment, espionage, live cattle exports from Australia, people smuggling and security are just a few cases in which public opinion of Indonesia amongst Australians turned south and vice-versa. However, the Australian and Indonesian governments are likely already working together closely on issues such as maritime security, human trafficking (people smugglers), and counter-terrorism. Good public diplomacy will ensure relations between the two states are supported into the future???? Perhaps there are better alternatives such as facilitating regional development and aid etc..??

Relevant Resources:

Robinson, Piers. (2012) “Media and Public Opinion”. Foreign Policy: Theories, Actors and Cases. Edited book by Steve Smith, Amelia Hadfield, Tim Dunne.


Hill, David T. 2016. Language as “Soft Power” in Bilateral Relations: The Case of Indonesian Language in Australia
. Asia Pacific Journal of Education, 36(3):364-378.

Day, Rowan. 2015. West Papua and the Australia-Indonesia relationship: a case study in diplomatic difficulty. Australian Journal of International Affairs, p.1-22

Public diplomacy entails engaging in strategies and activities that are aimed at influencing the foreign and domestic parties, by identifying their attitudes towards foreign policy and shaping their values on such issues (Cull 2008; Hocking 2005). The responsibility of maintaining a positive global opinion of a nation-state is generally embedded in the ideology of public diplomacy. For a long time, Australia has engaged in government-sponsored programs such as the use of media, books, publications, cultural and educational programs that were formulated to inform and influence foreign publics (Melissen 2005). In this light, public diplomacy has been employed as a means of winning the hearts and minds of the people. Broinowski (2016) states that Australia is a relatively latecomer in the use of public diplomacy. On the same note, the author alludes that the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade has committed insufficient resources in public diplomacy compared to other countries. Additionally, there is no identifiable theoretical orientation that defines the Australian approach to foreign policy. Despite this, Australia has participated in public diplomacy as a conceptual tool in how the country engages in foreign policy. The phenomenon raises the question if public diplomacy remains the most effective approach to improving relations among nations or there are other better approaches. The intent of this paper is to provide a critical analysis of the claims that an effective public diplomacy is the best approach for Australia to advance its relationship with Indonesia. Since August 1945 when Indonesia declared its independence, there has been fluctuating relations of the country and Australia.  Nevertheless, the two nations portrayed optimism during the 1990s, when there was an unprecedented economic growth that saw increased investment by Australians in the Indonesia. The improved relations were also attributed to the personal relationship that existed between Prime Minister Paul Keating of Australia and President Suharto of Indonesia, which contributed to the healthy rapport between the citizens of the two nations. Despite the progress, in 1999 there emerged acute political tensions due to the Australian support for East Timor’s struggle for independence (Mackie 2007). The issue was coupled with the collapse of Australian investment in the country following the financial crisis experienced in East Asia between 1997 and 1998. Additionally, there was the shift of Australian foreign investment towards China compromising the commercial interests in Indonesia…

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