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Tuesday, 4 October 1983
Page: 1321

Question No. 397

Mr Wells asked the Minister for Administrative Services, upon notice, on 25 August 1983:

(1) What are the activities of the Australian Information Service in Indonesia.

(2) How many contacts were made with the Australian Information Service centres outside Jakarta, including the names of contacts such as universities, press and other organisations, between 1 January 1975 and 30 June 1983.

Mr John Brown —The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows:

(1) The Australian Information Service supports all aspects of Australia's relationship with Indonesia through its public information program. The program aims to achieve an accurate and continuing portrayal of the Australian nation and its people, to increase general knowledge, awareness and understanding in Indonesia of Australia and so foster favourable conditions for the achievement of Australia's foreign policy objectives. The program explains, supports and promotes specific Australian policies, attitudes and viewpoints on international issues. The program relies largely on media outlets through print, film and radio material produced specially for Indonesia. The majority of this material is in the Indonesian language. The media program is supported by direct contact with influential people such as government officials, academics and journalists throughout Indonesia. The program has been conducted by the Australian Information Service (AIS) for the past 18 years and achieves a high rate of acceptance in Indonesia's national and provincial media.

(2) There are two AIS officers in the Information Section of the Australian Embassy in Jakarta which is the only AIS centre in Indonesia. In the course of their activities the AIS officers travel regularly and widely outside Jakarta making contact with Indonesians of various media, administrative and educational interests. They visit Bandung, Jogjakarta, Semarang and Surabaya in Java; Medan and Padang in Sumatra; Denpasar in Bali; and Ujung Pandang in Sulawesi. Contact is made with the publishers of major daily newspapers, television and radio stations and government departments in these cities. They also contact institutions such as universities, teachers' colleges and libraries. Other centres visited periodically but less frequently include: Palembang and Banda Aceh in Sumatra; Surakarta, Malang and Cilicap in Java; Pontianak and Banjarmasin in Kalimantan; Menado in Sulawesi; and Ambon in the Maluku. The frequency of these visits is regulated by the availability of travel funds. There are practical difficulties in providing precise information in answer to the question about the number and names of contacts, not only because of the time span, changes in AIS staff at the post and the ready availability of records but also that during the period 1 January 1975 to 30 June 1983 AIS officers made contact with several hundred organisations throughout Indonesia with a list of contacts running into thousands of names.