E&OE…

Thank you very, very much for your beautiful words and for your very, very warm welcome.

To Gladys Berejiklian, the Premier of New South Wales; State Ministers and Parliamentary colleagues who are here; Consul General; and other distinguished guests; ladies and gentlemen.

Can I also start by adding my acknowledgement of country.

And can I begin by passing on the best wishes of the Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, who has asked me to pass on his best wishes for this event.

It is always wonderful to join our Indian-Australian family for these sorts of events, and can I say what a wonderful contribution that the community has made over so many years.

Tonight we have heard about the long-standing history.

Today, 700,000 Australians are of Indian background – 2 per cent of our Australian population.

Of course, India is our largest source of skilled migrants.

We expect that the numbers of Indians living, working, visiting and studying here will continue to rise.  

Each year, over 200,000 Indians visit Australia and the Australian tourism industry expects this to double by 2025.

We have a very strong relationship on so many fronts, but education in particular. 

I am pleased that Australia is currently the second most popular international education destination for Indian students, after the United States.

At any given time, we have about 60,000 Indian students studying here in Australia.

From an Australian Government perspective, we are committed to ensuring that also young Australians learn about India by visiting and studying there.

Of course, as Minister for International Development and the Pacific, I am especially pleased that under the Australian Government's New Colombo Plan, the number of Australian students visiting India with the support will more than double in 2017 to around 890.

Of course, investing in youth through education exchange builds friendships, cultural understanding and mutual respect.

This will make both our countries richer.

Can I just pay particular tribute to the Indian diaspora – you have been a bridge between our two countries and have been strong advocates for both our countries as we have grown closer.

As the daughter of migrants myself, and indeed my family's story is one of those stories on welcome wall.

I am enormously proud to look around today to see that we are one of the most socially cohesive, yet culturally diverse nations in the world.

Our relationship with India, a very important partner, is getting stronger and stronger.

In April this year, Prime Minister Turnbull paid a state visit to India, of course this followed the state visit by Prime Minister Modi.

Both Prime Minister Turnbull and Prime Minister Modi have underscored the vital role of people-to-people links and especially that of our vibrant Indian-Australian community have made to strengthen our relationship.

Both Prime Ministers have welcomed progress in the flourishing knowledge partnership between Australia and India, building on links in higher education, skills development and science, technology and innovation.

We are exchanging very high level and productive meetings.

As I said, apart from the level at the Prime Ministerial level, our Defence Ministers, our Finance Ministers and their counterparts are also engaging.

All of this adds to our deep and growing friendship and the warm relations that we share. 

We are also looking at how our two governments can work together as Asia rises to reshape the global economy and there is much that we can do together.

In April this year, Prime Minister Turnbull commissioned an "India Economic Strategy" to increase the two-way trade and investment led by former Ambassador to India, and our former Secretary of Department of Foreign Affairs, Peter Varghese.

The Strategy demonstrates our seriousness in lifting economic cooperation.

We have not commissioned such a report of such a stature since the 1980s.

Next week is the Australia Business Week in India and it's taking place in a number of different cities across India: New Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Hyder… Hyderabad – it's been a long day! I was up at 4 o'clock this morning and I've been to Queensland and back! – and other parts of India.

My colleague, the Minister for Trade and Investment and Tourism, will lead Australia's delegation to this important event.

So can I conclude by celebrating the business excellence, the success of so many nominees.

Can I congratulate the winners in anticipation; we recognise that your success, your contribution that you have made and will continue to make to the rich fabric of our great multicultural society.

Thank you very much for your kind attention.

Media enquiries

  • Minister's Office: (02) 6277 7110
  • DFAT Media Liaison: (02) 6261 1555