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Australian Honours and the relationship with Indonesia: too few for business?

By Geoffrey Gold - posted Wednesday, 27 January 2016

The Australian Honours awards to recognise service to the nation or humanity are announced by the Governor General annually on special days such as Australia Day (26 January) and the Queen's Birthday (June). Designed to be "free of patronage or political influence" they evolved from the British imperial honours system into the distinctive Order of Australia in 1975, with separate hierarchies for Civil and Military divisions.

Other regular awards in the system include community Bravery Decorations, the National Medal for 15-years' service by members of recognised government and voluntary organisations, and the Public Service Medal for outstanding service by employees of the Australian Government and state, territory and local governments.

Indonesia is no stranger to Australian awards. Over recent decades, notable Indonesians who have received Australian honours include: Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, Companion of the Order of Australia, 2010; Sangkot Marzuki, Member of the Order of Australia, 2009; I Made Mangku Pastika, Officer of the Order of Australia, 2003; Frans Seda, Member of the Order of Australia, 1999; Ali Alatas, Officer of the Order of Australia, 1995; and Sastrosoenarto Hartarto, Officer of the Order of Australia, 1992.


Australian Ambassadors to Indonesia are highly regarded for their service to the nation: David Ritchie was appointed an Officer of the Order of Australia in 2005, as was John McCarthy in 1999. Earlier,Gordon Jockel was appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 1971, as were Laurence Mcintyre in 1960 andWalter Crocker in 1955.


In a different category, then Ambassador Richard Smith received the Public Service Medal in 2003 for "outstanding public service in managing and leading Australia's response in Indonesia following the bombings which occurred in Bali on 12 October 2002."

Indeed, so many of Mr Smith's diplomat colleagues and other Australians and Indonesians were recognised for their outstanding duties and humanitarian service in the aftermath of that terrorist attack, a special Honours list was announced in October 2003. Awards were later presented for participation in the subsequent police Operation Alliance investigations.

Similarly, in 2005, Bravery awards were presented to Ambassador Ritchie and 16 Australian and Indonesian embassy personnel following the bomb attack of the Australian Embassy in Jakarta.

Natural disasters, such as the 2004 Aceh and North Sumatra earthquake and tsunami, earned honours for participants in Sumatra Assist such as the Conspicuous Service Cross to Australian Army Attaché Michael Trafford and the Star of Courage to Shane Warburton who "rescued a leading aircraftman from a RAN Sea King helicopter which crashed at Tuindrao, Nias" in 2005.

Awards for Australian military in Indonesia have ranged from multiple MBEs to personnel in Balikpapan in 1947 to Andrew Mascini's AM in 1988 for defence cooperation as an RAAF engineering officer toJim Molan's OA in 200 for "distinguished service as the Head of the Australian Defence Staff in Jakarta during the Indonesian and East Timor crisis."


High on the list of recognition are a broad range of Australian civilians who have performed outstanding humanitarian services in Indonesia or have helped develop the Indonesia-Australian relationship. A brief sampling includes Cyril Richarde who was awarded an AM in 1986 for development aid, Herbert Ginn an MBE in 1967 for the Colombo Plan project, and David Hill an AO in 2015 "as an advocate of Australia-Indonesia cross-cultural understanding, and as an educator."

In the medical sector, awardees include Peter Lewis (OAM 2014),Mark Ellis (AM 2013) and John Hollingshead (OAM 2000) for eye care; Mervyn Hyde (AM 1992) for education of the deaf; Jane Arthur (AM 1992) for arranging cranio-facial surgery for children;William Cumming (AM 1998) for orthopaedic training; and Mark Moore (AM 2007) for specialist surgical services and professional development and education.

About Business

Given the Australian business connection with Indonesia, in trade and investment, over 100 and more years, honours to this sector seem sparse.

Dedicated Indonesian businessmen have been acknowledged -Moetaryanto Poerwoaminoto, Officer of the Order of Australia, 2010, and Julius Tahija in 2002, for service to Australian-Indonesian business relations – but, of Australians, only Perth-basedRoss Taylor (AM 2013 "for significant service to Australia-Indonesia relations, to primary industry and transport, and to the community"), Darwin-based Bruce Fadelli (AM 2001 "for service to the development of business relations") and Sydney-based Bruce Dureau (AM 1999 for promoting bilateral relationship), appear in the on-line index.

This short list may be the result of citations being too broad.

For instance Ian Murray received an MBE in 1967 for "international relations." However, he was the resident manager, and sole Australian staff member, of Nicholas Ltd's pharmaceutical-manufacturing subsidiary in Jakarta from 1963 to 1967 – including its one-year seizure by President Sukarno's government in reaction to Australia's support to Malaysia during Indonesia's konfrontasi.

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About the Author

Geoffrey Gold is Chief Executive Officer of the Gold Group Asia/Pacific Ltd in Jakarta.

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