Senate debates

Thursday, 9 March 2023

Statements by Senators

International Relations: India

1:32 pm

Photo of Linda WhiteLinda White (Victoria, Australian Labor Party) Share this | Hansard source

Last week I had the pleasure of meeting with the Indian consul general to Victoria and Tasmania in Melbourne, Dr Sushil Kumar. We had a good discussion, and I learnt more about the important strategic, economic and cultural factors which underpin the vibrant friendship of our two nations. Dr Kumar has only been in the job for about six months, but it was clear to me that he understands Australia and that he appreciates how deeply the Albanese government values the contribution the Indian diaspora make to Australia and Victoria.

I was glad to learn that 40 per cent of Australia's Indian diaspora call Victoria home. This is a growing population of some 200,000 people, particularly in growth corridors of the western and south-eastern suburbs of Melbourne. Victorian universities also educate 42,000 Indian university students, which is over one-third of all Indian students in Australia. I suppose this is to be expected from the education state, but I was heartened that young members of the diaspora come to Australia and Melbourne. As a product of a Victorian university, I can understand why.

The consul general and I also discussed the federal government's commitment to India under the leadership of the Prime Minister, Minister Wong and Minister Farrell. The India-Australia free trade agreement, championed by Minister Farrell, is a huge step in strengthening our economic bonds. Over 85 per cent of all Australian exports to India are now tariff free, as well as 96 per cent of Indian imports to Australia. The Prime Minister is in India today to reaffirm our commitment to projects like the free trade agreement and the Quad leaders agreement. Our cultural connection to India is about combining the skills, knowledge and expertise of India, Victoria and Australia to achieve outcomes that are enduring and mutually beneficial. That is something I am proud of, and I'm proud that Victoria is leading the way.


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