Malcolm Turnbull is cementing a “batik bromance” with Indonesian President Joko Widodo that could help make the region safer for Australians and their neighbours. A family dinner at the Prime Minister’s harbourside home helped tighten the relationship on Friday night, ahead of a formal deal on Saturday to work more closely in the fight against terrorism.
Mr Turnbull’s wife Lucy and Mr Joko’s wife Iriana joined their husbands at the Point Piper mansion for a meal of spanner crab and roasted hiramasa kingfish. Dessert was a raspberry sorbet with seasonal fruit and a quinoa wafer.
Views of Sydney harbour appear to be a key ingredient in Australia’s diplomatic offensive at a special summit with South East Asian leaders this weekend, with Mr Turnbull hosting dinner for all the leaders at Quay Restaurant above Circular Quay on Saturday night.
The relationship with Mr Joko is vital for Australia at a time of continued concern about terrorism, more than 15 years after the Bali bombings killed 202 people and injured another 209. Mr Turnbull has praised him publicly as one of the world’s most important leaders because of his belief in Islam as a religion of peace and his work in deterring radicalisation.
Known as Jokowi, the Indonesian President joked yesterday that politicians were having trouble keeping up with television dramas. “Since the arrival of Netflix, politicians have no choice but to turn politics into reality TV, because if we don’t, all of you will watch House of Cards and Stranger Things instead of watching us,” he said, to laughter from the audience.
He also made fun of the trend towards taking “selfies” – only hours after posing for one with Mr Turnbull on the terrace at Point Piper. The friendship is a big change from the strained relations of the past, including a rift when Indonesian President Megawati Soekarnoputri refused to return a phone call from John Howard.