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Wong makes Jakarta first pit stop

AAP logoAAP 8/09/2016 Lisa Martin

Penny Wong has made Jakarta her first overseas pit stop as she settles into her new role as Labor's spokeswoman on foreign affairs.

Senator Wong talked up Indonesia's growing leadership and "central player" role in light of the shift of the world's economic and strategic centres of gravity to Asia.

"Indonesia is already a key power in Asia and this trend will only gather force in coming years," the Labor Senate leader told Atma Jaya Catholic University in Indonesia.

Indonesia could help the region negotiate the shifting balance of power successfully resolving tensions and disagreements peacefully.

Malaysian-born Senator Wong used part of the speech to showcase her Bahasa language skills.

Indonesia needed to be at the centre of Australia's foreign policy and the relationship needed to deepen beyond day-to-day transactions.

"At times our friends in Jakarta could be forgiven for thinking that all Australia is interested in when it comes to Indonesia is boats, beef and Bali," Senator Wong said.

Business links were shallow and there was scope to increase trade.

However, she argued that a free-trade agreement would not necessarily be a silver bullet and the federal government needed to help Australian business realise opportunities in Indonesia.

Senator Wong is not the only Labor MP in Indonesia this week, backbencher Tim Watt is in Bali for the annual Conference of Australian and Indonesian Youth.

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