Thank you for your kind introduction and for the opportunity to address the Tenth International Mining and Machinery Exhibition.
First, let me congratulate the organisers on the scale of this event and the significance of its agenda. Twenty-five years since its inception, the International Mining and Machinery Exhibition continues to bring together key government and industry players to pursue the important work of improving the productivity of our mining sectors.
I am delighted to be in Kolkata, paying my first official visit to India.
India will feature strongly in Australia’s future. In part that’s because India is, once again, assuming the mantle of a global power. The strength of India’s people and its economic growth, India’s seat on the United Nations Security Council for 2011-2012 and its engagement on the key challenges of the 21st century are further confirmation of India’s growing global influence.
India will also feature strongly in Australia’s future because of the commitment our countries have made to put our relationship at the front rank of our bilateral partnerships.
This is underlined by the Strategic Partnership Prime Ministers of both countries launched in November 2009. This partnership will see us greatly expand our political, economic, defence, scientific and people-to-people links and we are working to capitalise on the synergies and complementarities between our two economies.
We have no intention of discovering, then neglecting and rediscovering India every few years: we are here to stay. Every Australian company represented here knows the value of a robust, durable, substantial presence in India. So too does their government. Australian companies here are acting on the basis of that pragmatic judgment. So too is their government.
Already, Australia is in the process of more than doubling our diplomatic resources in India:
- expanding our High Commission in New Delhi;
- upgrading our Consulates in Chennai and Mumbai; and
- opening or expanding trade offices in another eight cities right across India, including here in Kolkata.
This increase in resources will allow us to pursue common interests right across the broad sweep of our bilateral agenda.
Of foundational importance to the Australia-India Strategic Partnership will be our relationship in energy and resources, the building blocks of economic growth.
India is a substantial producer of energy and mineral commodities but, like all countries, it cannot go it alone. Substantial increases in power generation capacity will be required to meet the needs of India’s rapidly growing industry, and to deliver electricity to the hundreds of millions of rural Indians who cannot yet access it.
Australia is endowed with a wealth of natural resources that not only helps fuel our own economic growth, but also that of our trading partners, like India.
Australians are proud to be able to supply energy commodities such as coal and LNG, and minerals like copper and zinc, important inputs to India’s economic engine.
Today I would like to talk about some of the challenges our countries face, and how the opportunities arising from them can work to our mutual benefit.
Much of Australia’s economic success, and its ability to weather the storms of global financial disruptions come from the resilience and strength of its resources and energy sectors:
- We are a long-term, stable and reliable supplier of energy and minerals to the world. Australia is rightly proud of this reputation and continues to work to build on it;
- Our resource base means that we can produce and trade critical commodities well into the future – an important role in our increasingly resource-constrained world;
- Our competitive and highly productive resource and energy sector is continually innovating and adopting the latest technologies, developing a highly skilled workforce and encouraging international capital investment; and
- our mining-related services industry is world class. India is a substantial producer of energy and mineral commodities, but like all countries, it relies on the contribution of resources and energy imports. This will become even more critical as India faces unprecedented demand for resources and energy.
Indeed, we may well be seeing only the tip of the resources and energy market iceberg.
Australia sees these challenges not as a threat, but as an opportunity. I am sure my Indian colleagues feel the same.
There are many opportunities to build India’s supply security by diversifying its imports and taking advantage of Australia’s reputation as a reliable supplier, such as:
- Building on the first ever long-term LNG contract with India, between Exxonmobil and Petronet LNG Gujarat (2009);
- Building resource investment by Indian companies in Australia as the Adani Group has in purchasing the Galilee coal tenement in Queensland (August 2010);
- Opportunities for Gujarat NRE's metallurgical coal mines in southern New South Wales to expand production;
- Opportunities for cooperation and exchange through joint research and collaboration with India, such as sharing information and building capacity, joint projects, or better understanding each other’s policy and regulatory frameworks; and
- There are also opportunities for us to work strategically together on sustainable development.
The opportunities are endless.
Australia also stands to benefit from these opportunities.
Just as India needs to diversify to ensure supply security, Australia needs to ensure economic security by diversifying its customer base – and India can play an important role in this regard. The ability of both countries to meet the demand for resources is dependent on investment – on a major and strategic scale.
Australia is capital-hungry, and we are able to be a net importer of capital only because we present such a compelling value proposition to foreign investors. Australian companies are also keen to enter the Indian market, and are actively doing so.
Australia's experience in using energy markets to drive private investment also presents great opportunities. No more so than in relation to the substantial growth and changes that India’s energy sector will undergo as the target of 'power to all' by 2012 is pursued. We have a national energy market and we are developing smart technologies to increase our capacity to incorporate renewable energy into power grids.
To this end, we welcome working with India, through our bilateral government forums. These government-to-government forums complement and reflect the degree of business activity between our nations. We can only benefit from continuing and enhancing the government/business dialogue and strategic approach to our relationship.
Like Australia, coal is the mainstay of India’s energy mix. With this in mind, Australia also has a great track record in developing a sustainable and safe mining and extractive sector. This ensures a sound economic return and will enable Australia to continue to supply India well into the future.
Opportunities also arise in non-traditional areas of the resources and energy sectors. LNG is an important transitional fuel for stationary power. It produces fewer and cleaner emissions to generate the same amount of power as traditional coal-fired plants.
Australia is positioned to be a major contributor to the global LNG market.
Australia and India both face challenges concerning liquid fuel security. This is a particular challenge for Australia. We are seeking to engage globally, including in the Indian Ocean rim, to increase cooperation on energy security and work in partnership to deliver regional outcomes as well as capture the mutual benefit of greater economic, research and policy partnerships.
Through plans to build significant refining capacity, India will also help deliver a more stable and competitive liquid fuels market across the entire region.
Technology transformation will also be a critical element of Australia and India’s energy security in the longer term as we strive to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels and move to a carbon constrained future.
We should continue to work together on biofuels, distribution and use of gases for vehicles, hydrogen fuel cells, and other potential energy sources. In the longer term, we will need to look to other technologies: geothermal; second-generation biofuels such as algae; and carbon capture, use and storage.
As our two-way trade continues to grow, we will look to build on established relationships and to establishing new partnerships.
The future for cooperation between India and Australia has never been brighter.
Our shared challenge is to work strategically and cooperatively in a strong partnership to provide a sustainable, secure and responsible energy and resources future for our nations.
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