West Australian Premier Colin Barnett will be lobbied by his own MPs to retain a trade officer in Jakarta, after their fact-finding mission discovered only unlocked potential.
Upper house Liberals Nigel Hallett, Brian Ellis and Phil Edman say they are “baffled” by moves to close the state’s trade office in Jakarta after 22 years.
The WA regional director’s contract will not be renewed when it expires at the end of the year and the role would be assumed by someone based within Austrade, a national body.
The MPs this week visited Jakarta with the Australia Indonesia Business Council and viewed the busy Jakarta trade office for Victoria, one of the states expanding its presence in Indonesia.
Mr Hallett said he was returning with a clear message for the premier.
“It’s abundantly clear in what, three days, there’s no justification or logic in closing the office,” he told AAP.
Mr Edman says beyond viewing Indonesia as a growing market for WA beef and grain, new opportunities in education, health and services should be explored.
He was disappointed that in six years of the Barnett government, only two ministers had visited Indonesia, both of them ministers for agriculture.
“Maybe there’s been too much focus on Japan and India and China,” Mr Edman said.
“But from what I learned this week, wow, there is a lot of potential and it sounds like there’s an amazing president now, and amazing, exciting times ahead for the people of Indonesia.
“We should seriously now ramp up relationships in the trade office and do whatever we can to enhance them.”
The MPs will seek a personal meeting with Mr Barnett and ask him to reopen the search for a suitable replacement for the position being vacated.
“I’m not convinced this is a completely done deal,” Mr Edman said.
“I’m confident we can go back to Western Australia and convince our premier this is the wrong decision.”