Australia to ease visa rules to boost Indonesian ties

Australia will make business travel for Indonesians easier under a deal to be struck between Anthony Albanese and President Joko Widodo.

Mr Widodo was formally welcomed in Sydney on Tuesday on what will likely be his final official visit to Australia before stepping down from the presidency.

On the agenda for the meeting with the Australian prime minister are changes to the visa system, trade, regional security and clean energy.

Foreign Minister Penny Wong said the issue of travel impediments had been raised on several occasions by Indonesia.

“We will be making business travel easier for Indonesians to come to Australia and that’s a good thing for Australia … and for jobs,” she told ABC radio ahead of the meeting.

“One of the things we’re focused on is how do we improve our economic ties … Indonesia is an increasing economic power and will be over the next decade.”

A pilot program to boost rates of Indonesian speakers in Australia is also expected to be announced.

The scheme would capitalise on the rising number of Indonesian students studying at Australian universities, which has rebounded following downturns caused by COVID-19.

Mr Widodo held business talks in Sydney before meeting with Governor-General David Hurley at Admiralty House.

Mr Albanese and Mr Widodo will travel to Taronga Zoo later on Tuesday, where they will issue a formal statement and visit a Sumatran tiger exhibit.

West Australian Premier Roger Cook will hold talks with Mr Widodo in Sydney, with the pair likely to discuss Indonesia’s transition towards renewable energy and its aspirations for an electric vehicle manufacturing industry.

Indonesia has been looking at developing electric vehicle infrastructure across the country.

An agreement is expected to be inked between the Indonesian Chamber of Commerce and WA on critical mineral supplies after the two parties signed a memorandum of understanding on the issue in February.

The two nations’ leaders are also expected to discuss defence issues such as the AUKUS partnership and tensions in the region.

Mr Widodo’s term as president expires next year and Indonesians head to the polls in early 2024.

The visit comes as the federal government is expected to finalise its Southeast Asia economic strategy to 2040 in the coming weeks.


Andrew Brown and Tess Ikonomou
(Australian Associated Press)


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