Just to start this post with a bit of a gripe. The Rudd Government is no-where near as good as the Howard Government at putting press material on-line. This makes it hard for someone like me who is okay at analysis but who does not (for obvious reasons) travel with the press pack to comment quickly on issues.
This may be an unfair comment. But whatever the weaknesses of the Howard Government, a lot of information was provided. Of course it was slanted to the position of the Government, but any analyst worth his or her salt could adjust for this.
A week or so back in Now is the time for Australia to support Indonesia I reported that Indonesia had asked for financial back-up from Australia, up to $US2 billion as part of a $US5 billion package. I said that I hoped Australia could help.
According to ABC News, the Federal Government is giving Indonesia a $1 billion loan to help it with the global credit crunch. The photo shows PM Rudd and President Yudhoyono announcing the loan at the Democracy Forum in Bali
This is a fair bit less than the amount asked. However, according to a story in the Jakarta Post, Australia is to help facilitate the entire package. Mr Rudd is quoted as saying that countries, particularly those in a same region, must cooperate in addressing the pressure from the global economic turmoil. As a good neighbour, it was natural for Australia to pledge such commitment.
In response, the President said that the loan from Australia would be ready whenever Indonesia needed additional capital to sustain economic growth and mitigate devastating impact from the economic woes.
He added that Indonesia had decided not to rely on IMF such as it did a decade ago during the Asian financial crisis. Indonesia, he said, would prefer to seek assistance from the World Bank, Asian Development Bank or traditional allies such as Japan, Australia and European Union.
I was interested in both leader's comments because they showed that both accepted that we needed to look for regional solutions.
There were other aspects of the Bali meeting worthy of a post, and I am not referring here to the extradition of the alleged people smuggler. These can wait. For the moment, I just want to say how pleased I was.
Nothing that Australia or Indonesia can do will stop the global economic crisis affecting both countries in the short term. However, moves like this lay the basis for longer term improvement.