I have always had a strong personal sense of engagement with and commitment to Indonesia. It started with visits long before I entered politics, but was much reinforced by the very warm professional and personal relationship I developed with Ali Alatas after we became the foreign ministers of our respective countries around the same time in 1988, and pledged ourselves to restore ballast to a relationship that seemed to have conspicuously lost it.
My affection did not do me much good with the Australian public, with East Timor the running sore it remained for so long, but it was something of which I have remained proud. Indonesia is a country that has an enormous amount to contribute to wider global and regional governance, and our relationship with it, though still so undervalued, remains incredibly important to us.
So it gives me particular pleasure, wearing my new hat as chancellor of this great university, to introduce this important volume, the outcome of the 29th Indonesia Update conference in the series the Australian National University has been running continuously since 1983. The annual Update conference, convened with great flair by Professor Tony Reid, is a unique event, the only one of its kind for Indonesia (though it has become an exemplar for similar series that the ANU now runs with several other countries). Its longevity and quality, and the strong public interest it generates as an open and inclusive event, are testimony to the continuing strength of Indonesian studies at the ANU – and the continuing strong support given to this event by AusAID, which it is always a pleasure to acknowledge.
The 2011 Update was marked by two milestones, one sad and the other happy. The sad one is that this is the first since 1983 that Jamie Mackie, who passed away peacefully in April aged 86, has not been with us. Together with Herb Feith and Heinz Arndt, he was one of the founders of Indonesian studies in Australia and his legacy will be long remembered.
The happy milestone is that this is the first Update since Budy Resosudarmo assumed the directorship of the Indonesia Project at the ANU's Crawford School. The Project plays an important role in monitoring and analysing economic developments, in particular, and informing government, business and the wider community about them.