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Event Details:

WHAT: Richard Woolcott AC presents “Indonesia and Australia in the Asian Century”

WHEN: 6.30pm, Tuesday 21 May 2013
WHERE: GM15, Melbourne Law School, 185 Pelham Street, Carlton 3053

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Neither side of federal politics has “managed Asia correctly” despite all the rhetoric in the past 12 months about the Asian Century and Henry White Paper.

That’s the view of one Australia’s former top diplomats, Richard Woolcott AC, who will give his take on Indonesia and Australia in the Asian Century at a public lecture at the University of Melbourne tomorrow night.

A leading Australian diplomat, Founding Director of the Asia Society AustralAsia Centre and one of the key figures who helped establish the Asia Pacific Regional Economic Cooperation Forum (APEC), Mr Woolcott said it was time both parties got their act together.

“In the longer term no bi-lateral relationship is more important to Australia than that with Indonesia,” said Mr Woolcott ahead of the lecture.

“The rise of Asia constitutes an historic global turning point to which Australia must respond if we are not to be left behind. Australia is losing ground - we are not doing as well with our Asian engagement as the regular rhetoric and diet of spin emerging from Ministerial offices would have the public believe.

“Australia needs to decide whether it wants to cling to a historic past or be actively engaged in Asia’s future.  We need a fundamental change to our national psyche, to focus more on Asia, and Indonesia in particular, than our traditional links with the United States, the United Kingdom and Europe. Establishing a Republic would be a good start.”

Mr Woolcott’s lecture will also mark the official launch of the Centre for Indonesian Law, Islam and Society (CILIS) at the Melbourne Law School.  Professor Tim Lindsey, inaugural Director of CILIS, said the new centre will provide a focus for the School’s already extensive work on Indonesian law.

“Indonesia matters to Australia, because geographically we’re so close.  It’s the third giant in Asia and the location for the world’s largest Muslim population. We need to understand it now more than ever before,” Professor Lindsey said.

“This new centre will play a big role in understanding how Indonesia’s often controversial legal system works, and will offer new insights into Islamic legal traditions and their role in Indonesian society. It will build a network of researchers based at the University of Melbourne for collaboration around Australia, in Indonesia, and with lawyers and scholars around the world.”