President Joko Widodo’s forthcoming visit to Australia is an oppor­tunity to reset relations with Indonesia after three years of ­remarkable turbulence, even by the volatile standards of the past.

But a cautionary reminder: Australian governments are prone to excessive exuberance about the prospects for enhanced relations with Indonesia that all too often end in disappointment and tears because we fail to understand the substantial obstacles to progress.

In September 2013, the Abbott government came to power intent on refocusing Australian diplom­acy on “Jakarta, not Geneva”. Six months later, relations were in deep freeze, triggered by accus­ations that Australia had bugged the mobile telephones of president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and his wife.

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