Indonesia and Australia engage in defence discussions amid progress towards security agreement

Indonesia and Australia engage in high-level talks to enhance security cooperation. They anticipate finalizing a significant defence agreement, with discussions spanning bilateral relations, maritime security, and shared challenges.

Indonesia and Australia conducted high-level discussions in Jakarta, aiming to bolster security cooperation through an upcoming defence agreement. Defense Minister Prabowo Subianto, expected to lead Indonesia, emphasized talks with Australian counterpart Richard Marles on maintaining and improving bilateral relations. Both nations anticipate finalizing a substantial defence cooperation pact within two to three months, with specific terms yet undisclosed.


Marles hailed the pact as the most profound and significant defence cooperation agreement ever between Indonesia and Australia. He emphasized its importance during a joint press briefing with Subianto, highlighting the shared destiny and collective security interests that underpin the bilateral relationship. Subianto, a 72-year-old former general with no prior elected position, appears poised to win the February 14 presidential election. Upon confirmation of his victory through an official count in the following weeks, he is expected to assume office in October.



During his two-day visit to Indonesia, Marles emphasized the longstanding maritime security cooperation between the two nations and expressed a mutual desire to further enhance their defence relationship. This meeting closely followed a recent discussion between Australian Defense Force Chief Gen. Angus Campbell and Subianto earlier in the week, highlighting Indonesia’s significant importance to Australia as the world’s third-largest democracy.


Marles also extended congratulations to Subianto on his apparent victory in the Indonesian presidential election, acknowledging the keen interest the election has garnered in Australia. Regarding concerns about Australians supporting separatist movements in Papua, Marles reiterated Australia’s stance on respecting Indonesia’s territorial sovereignty. He affirmed Australia’s unequivocal support for Indonesia’s territorial integrity, dismissing any backing for separatist movements in the country’s provinces. He emphasized Australia’s commitment to respecting Indonesia’s sovereignty without exception.


Despite Indonesia’s status as a significant neighbour and ally to Australia, the relationship has encountered challenges. Subianto acknowledged historical fluctuations but emphasized Indonesia’s view of Australia as a close and supportive friend, particularly during critical junctures.


Past disputes include allegations of Australian wiretapping in 2013, Indonesia’s execution of Australian drug smugglers, and incidents related to people smuggling. Additionally, in 2017, Indonesia temporarily halted military cooperation with Australia due to perceived insults toward Indonesia’s state ideology and military at an Australian military facility.
In September 2021, Indonesia lodged a diplomatic complaint against Australia for delays in sharing information regarding its involvement in the AUKUS trilateral pact, which includes plans for Australia to obtain nuclear-powered submarines in collaboration with the United States and the United Kingdom.


Since 2022, Australia has participated in the annual Indonesia-U.S. joint combat exercise called Super Garuda Shield alongside Japan and Singapore, marking the largest iteration of the drills since their inception in 2009.
The expanded military exercises are perceived as a concern by China, which views them as part of a broader effort by the United States to form an Indo-Pacific alliance akin to NATO, aimed at curbing China’s growing military and diplomatic influence in the region.


Additionally, discussions between the two countries ministers have included the topics of people smuggling and human trafficking, identified as shared challenges requiring collaborative efforts for resolution. Marles emphasized the importance of cooperative action in addressing these issues.