Monday, 5 February 2018
Australian Parliamentary Delegation to India
by leave—I present the report of the Australian parliamentary delegation to India, which took place from 28 October to 4 November 2017. I seek leave to move a motion in relation to the report.
That the Senate take note of the document.
Just to speak briefly on the matter, when I was first asked to go on this delegation to India I was a bit hesitant about it because India was never on my bucket list. But I thought about it for some reasons. One of them was Adani and the coal mining and comments that I had heard about Adani back in India. I thought it was an opportunity for me to ask questions about that. Also, I wanted to know more about India and its ever-increasing population—how the country was actually moving forward and how they were faring.
I'm very pleased that I did go on the delegation with my other colleagues. It was very informative to meet with the Australian High Commissioner. There were many interesting areas, but visiting Dr. Shroff's Charity Eye Hospital, which Australia donates monies to, was very beneficial. I'm very critical about foreign aid. I believe that we need to look after our own, but this hospital receives funding from Australia's Direct Aid Program to assist in training underprivileged women as nurses. It purchases equipment for learning and to support the hospital work. This has taken young girls out of their rural communities, where they'd never have a chance of training or learning, and has given them a life through learning something. But the most important thing of it all is helping the poor who are blind and the aged who would never have a chance of seeing if it weren't for this aid. Australia's aid of around $30,000 a year helps hundreds of thousands of people. That's something that I think is very beneficial.
We also spoke to the police and those dealing with counterterrorism about what they are facing in their cities. It was very interesting to talk to the governor of Telangana. We asked him and he told us that they're putting in the NBN—quite interesting. They're rolling out the NBN to 8½ million homes over five to six months at a cost of approximately US$100 per household. And it's not only the NBN; at the same time they're laying the water as well. Here we have a Third World country that can lay it to that many homes. Admittedly, it's not over the same distances as in Australia, but it did amaze me. The T-Hub, in starting up businesses, was very informative, and I think that Australia could work very closely with them in start-up businesses.
The population—it was quite amazing to see the poverty and how the people live. I think we need to be mindful of the fact that what's important to Australia is our standard of living. Ever-increasing populations—we have to ensure that we can provide housing, health and education to our own population here without increasing it and seeing poverty. I hope that one day it's not like that of India.
I must say that one of the highlights of the trip was to visit the Taj Mahal, but I will also say that it was done on our own time and at our own expense, not the taxpayers'. I'm pleased to have gone on that trip, and I've picked up a lot from my visit to India, which I hope to use on the floor of parliament and in many debates to come. Thank you.
Question agreed to.