House debates

Tuesday, 23 May 2023

Questions without Notice

International Relations: Australia and India

2:03 pm

Photo of Joanne RyanJoanne Ryan (Lalor, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

My question is to the Prime Minister. How is the Albanese Labor government working to strengthen Australia's relationship with India? And how important is Prime Minister Modi's visit to Australia this week?

Photo of Anthony AlbaneseAnthony Albanese (Grayndler, Australian Labor Party, Prime Minister) Share this | | Hansard source

I thank the member for Lalor for her question, and I indeed will be delighted to welcome Prime Minister Modi to Australia today. It will be the sixth meeting that we've had together since I was sworn in as Prime Minister one year ago today. It shows how important the relationship between Australia and India is. India will grow to be the third-largest economy in the world. It's already the most populous country in the world. And it is an important neighbour in the Indian Ocean that we share. That is why this is a relationship that we need to invest in.

Tonight I will have the privilege of joining Prime Minister Modi on stage at Qudos Bank Arena in Sydney. This event will celebrate Australia's large and vibrant Indian community. And Australia is a better place because of the contribution of the Indian diaspora. They have brought the spirit of the world's largest democracy to Australia and helped make our democracy stronger and more inclusive. I note that, last night, there was a new Lord Mayor of Parramatta. I congratulate Lord Mayor Pandey on his election. He is the first Indian Australian to hold such a high office in local government, in what is Sydney's second CBD and very much a centre of the community. Prime Minister Modi and I are optimistic that we'll conclude discussions on the comprehensive economic cooperation agreement before the end of the year. That will create Australian jobs, helping our industries prosper and sparking growth and innovation.

When I was in India, in March, we announced the presence of the opening of the first ever foreign university to operate in India, Deakin University. It will be operating in Gujarat, and it will be followed by Wollongong university—again, providing such an important arrangement. One of the things that's happening with our population in Australia is the return of Indian students to Australia, which is something that this side of the House welcomes because of the difference that it will make.

Renewable energy is also a focus of our partnership. Our businesses are already cooperating on that renewable energy partnership, and we're extending the critical minerals partnership as well. Our security and defence links are growing, and Australia will host Exercise Malabar for the first time this year. India is a key strategic partner. We have a rich friendship. We have a very affectionate sporting rivalry, of course, on the cricket fields of the world, and we'll contest the championship once again very shortly. We are both part of a growing and dynamic region, and Prime Minister Modi is a very welcome visitor to our shores.

2:06 pm

Photo of Peter DuttonPeter Dutton (Dickson, Liberal Party, Leader of the Opposition) Share this | | Hansard source

on indulgence—I want to join with the Prime Minister in his words of welcome to Prime Minister Modi. I saw him last 18 months ago, and I look forward to seeing him tonight in Sydney for a bilateral meeting. Tomorrow, in Sydney, it's an opportunity to reinforce the bipartisan nature of our approach to our relationship with India. We have an incredibly important diaspora community here in this country. I was having dinner with some Indian friends in Sydney the other night, talking about their stories of success. Some who'd come here as students have amassed incredible success and wealth, in some cases, but their adoption to our country has been a remarkable story. The depth of our relationship now through the Quad and the importance of our discussions in relation to a number of areas is only just starting. The opportunities ahead for our two countries to grow even closer together, given particularly Prime Minister Modi's approach to our country, the welcome nature of the Indian people, the way in which we are able to work together and to have the fierce competition on the sporting field, as the Prime Minister points out, creates for a very exciting dynamic into the future. The possibilities within this relationship are absolutely endless, and I look forward to seeing many Indian friends in Sydney over the next 24 hours.