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The post is prompted by the newspaper story here.

I invite you to read the story for the facts, but I have mixed feelings on whether the author has drawn the right interpretations and conclusions.

I’m not sure I would agree that the visit was a worry, at least not in the sense that the article implies.

My own hope, for what it is worth, is that Indonesia isn’t so dazzled by the display that it forgets the horrific torture inflicted intermittently on domestic workers from Indonesia and elsewhere in Southeast and South Asia who are imported into Saudi Arabia as virtual slaves.

There is also the quote “In the face of the Saudis’ relentless, pernicious proselytising, what has Australia done? Cut its aid funding for Indonesian schools and more than halved the number of scholarships it offers to Indonesians to study in Australia” , which also makes me sigh.

Is this really all Australia can think about? Tinkering around the edges of aid funding… again?

Indonesia has vast reserves of natural resources. The country can afford fighter jets, highways, skyscrapers. Most Indonesians would probably agree with me that a lot of Indonesia’s money is wasted and lost to corruption, but that is a cultural issue with priorities other than schooling, not a question of poverty. I’m further unconvinced that Australia knows what it really wants to achieve with aid funding in Indonesia, and that Indonesia is on the same page with Australia’s intent (or even that it knows what this intent is).

As for providing (more) scholarships for Indonesians to study here, why must Australia support Indonesians who are otherwise already very succesful in the system anyway get an extra privilege? In this I am not opposed to the scholarships, but rather who they are generally given to.

Finally, there is the issue of the genuine frustration this causes domestically in Australia. I must declare my own interests in this issue, but still want to ask why Australia is supporting foreign students to study here at greatly reduced/negligible cost with guaranteed jobs to return to, while at the same time pushing ever higher and unaffordable fees to Australian students under increasingly harsh and non-negotiable user pays models with diminishing work prospects at the end?

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