Governor of South Sulawesi discusses education and transport at business roundtable in Melbourne
The Governor of South Sulawesi, Andi Sudirman Sulaiman, has used a roundtable event in Melbourne to highlight infrastructure and education.
The governor spoke at a business discussion at Monash Conference Centre in Melbourne organised by the Australia-Indonesia Business Council, Global Victoria and the Australia-Indonesia Centre.
The event attracted a number of delegates from the private sector, national and Victorian governments with the event moderated by the Australia-Indonesia Centre’s Helen Brown.
Governor Andi Sudirman, who was in Melbourne to lead a delegation, spoke of the opportunities for business growth across mining, renewable energy, cattle farming and seaweed production.
Regarding mining, he noted global demand for nickel and how South Sulawesi is the largest nickel producing province in Indonesia.
He discussed infrastructure and the South Sulawesi railway and how it could play a role in getting minerals to market and allowing people to more easily travel for work and employment.
Education and trade
Governor Andi Sudirman also noted the importance of cooperation across higher education and the desire for the province’s people to be able to access the high standards set by Monash University and Universitas Hasanuddin.
In a later interview with the Australia-Indonesia Centre, Governor Sudirman also spoke of the role of technical schools or SMKs, with the goal of having more people enter the workforce after completing school-based training rather than learning entirely on the job.
“I think there is a good chance for us [to work with] Australia and share how education development in Australia can be shared with Indonesia and South Sulawesi, that is my hope,” the governor said.
The governor also discussed agriculture and the need for more research into rice, rice seeds and rice planting.
Addressing the business roundtable, AIBC chair and operations director at Ausfine Foods, Garry Embleton, said there had been much discussion about the economic agreement between the two countries known as IA-CEPA.
He said that the government “has done its job” but such agreements were only valuable if businesses were prepared to engage.
Mr Embleton talked of the export of beef cattle from Darwin to Indonesia, similar to the historic trade between the Northern Territory and Makassar, and how feedlots can be used to supply bioenergy to support a circular economy.
Comparing Indonesian business opportunities with those of China twenty years ago “but more sustainable” Mr Embleton said recent trade tensions between Australia and China were “a wake up call” with some businesses having “too many eggs in the China basket”.
Toll Group government affairs and international trade and investment specialist, Leigh Obradovic, talked about the role of intermodal transport facilities, leading to discussion about the development of Makassar New Port and the South Sulawesi railway.
Toll Group has a network of operations in Indonesia which are mostly focused on the island of Java.
Mr Obradovic noted the example of Moorebank intermodal in Sydney’s west as a concept relevant to the South Sulawesi railway given the construction of inland rail between Brisbane and Melbourne.
“There is an opportunity for companies to invest in logistics and use a ‘hub and spoke’ [system].”
“What can be of interest is where there is investment in public transport and logistics infrastructure that there are opportunities for private investment in warehouse distribution and infrastructure which can then leverage the use of rail infrastructure,” he said.
Mr Obradovic said Toll tended to invest with customers who were generally large multinational businesses looking to establish new distribution centres.
The importance of intermodals in maximising the benefits of the South Sulawesi railway has been a finding of researchers from the Australia-Indonesia Centre’s Partnership for Australia-Indonesia Research (PAIR) and was the focus of a meeting in Jakarta late last year.
Delegates to the roundtable included Darren Godwell and Steve Jones from I2I Global, is a trade-focused firm owned by indigenous Australians Indigenous owned and led professional deployment business, with a particular goal of enhancing capabilities and developing opportunities for indigenous people.
This is relevant given the old trade links between Makassar and the First Australian communities of the Northern Territory.
“One of the most powerful documents that has been released recently is the Indigenous Diplomacy Agenda,” Mr Jones said, noting the document’s key pillars including trade, economic policy, and international development.
“We are very pleased to be working not only with our indigenous brothers and sisters in Australia, but we are also looking at developing indigenous engagement strategies, reconciliation engagement plans and so forth, particularly with traditional owners.”
The session concluded with comments by Georgina Penman from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade who reminded the audience that the embassy in Jakarta and the consular facilities in other cities were “always helping Australian businesses” and had an important role to play.
Feature image by David Sexton and The Australia-Indonesia Centre