Australia India Institute AILD Launch

  • Speech, check against delivery

I acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the land on which we meet, the Ngunnawal people, and also acknowledge any other people or families with connection to the ACT and region.

I pay my respects to their Elders past and present.

And I extend that respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people here this evening.


Thank you to the sponsors of the Australia India Leadership Dialogue:

  • Atlassian;
  • Tata Consultancy Services;
  • the Confederation of Indian Industry;
  • the University of Melbourne;
  • Air India; and
  • the Victorian Government.

The start of the sixth Australia India Leadership Dialogue provides an opportunity for a moment of reflection.

About how much Australia has changed. How much India has changed. How much our bilateral relationship has changed.

And how much the world has changed.

The launch of the Australia India Institute in 2008 coincided with the launch of India's first mission to the Moon, Chandrayaan 1.

Countries and markets were in the depths of the Global Financial Crisis.

There were 250,000 people born in India living in Australia, and in 2008 India represented 1.9 percent of the world economy. South Asia represented 2.5 percent of the world economy.

And the Australian cricket team lost the Border-Gavaskar Series to India
2-0, with Sachin Tendulkar breaking Brian Lara's record to become the highest test run scorer of all time.

The world has changed a lot in the last fifteen years.

India became only the fourth country in the world to achieve a lunar landing when Chandrayaan-3 successfully landed on the moon in August this year.

War has returned to continental Europe, and economic and geostrategic trends are reshaping our region.

The Indian-Australian diaspora has grown to nearly 8 lakh, and India itself has grown to become the most populous nation on Earth. The Indian economy is up to 3.4 percent of the world's economy, and South Asia 4.3 percent of the world's economy.

And this year, Australia again lost the Border-Gavaskar Series in India.

I guess some things don't change.

But in those fifteen years the Australia-India bilateral relationship has expanded rapidly.

And the importance of the AILD, and the Australia India Institute, in supporting this relationship, has become clear.

This year alone, there have been 16 visits by Australian Ministers to India, including the Prime Minister twice.

In our first year of government, Prime Minister Albanese met with Prime Minister Modi six times.

This year we welcomed Prime Minister Modi to Qudos Arena in Sydney, which was a celebration of the living bridge that connects us – Australia's Indian communities.

I have travelled to India twice in the last 15 months as Assistant Minister for Foreign Affairs.

Our high-level engagement underscores the value Australia places on deepening our ties with India.

This includes through the Australia-India Migration and Mobility Partnership Arrangement signed by Prime Ministers Modi and Albanese, which made it easier for students, graduates, academic researchers and business people to move between our countries.

Deepening people-to-people links between Australia and India is also a focus for the newly established Centre for Australia-India Relations, including through harnessing the existing connections of the Indian diaspora in Australia.

The Centre's Maitri cultural partnerships are encouraging greater cultural exchange and collaboration between Australia and India, for example grants for performing arts projects involving performers from both countries.

Projects like the one run by the Bábbarra Women's Centre in Arnhem Land, who are collaborating with the Tharangini Studio in Bengaluru to support emerging women artists in textile development.

The Centre is also convening Indian Australian business leaders and researchers together with the broader business community to catalyse engagement with India by building understanding of India and how to access commercial opportunities.

The building of people-to-people links by organisations like the Australia India Institute and the Centre for Australia India Relations is crucial, because it is the connections between people that are, and will continue to be, the heart of our relationship.

These institutions have allowed friendships to develop between champions of the relationship. Longterm friendships that are now bearing fruit in the relationship.

Programs like the AILD bring us together to share our knowledge, and our cultures, and create bonds between us that can be drawn upon for years. 

They also elevate the Australian public's understanding and interest in India.

They promote trade and investment.

And they contribute to the public debate and policy development around our strategic cooperation.

We live in challenging times, where connections between people and governments in our region will be increasingly important.

Aside from the war in Ukraine and the ongoing fallout of the pandemic, the world is grappling with the increasingly severe impacts of climate change…

… and we've seen military build-up in our region escalate, without commensurate constraints.

And as Foreign Minister Penny Wong said in her National Statement to the UN General Assembly last month:

“…it is up to all of us to act to deploy our collective statecraft, our influence, our networks, our capabilities, to minimise the risk of misunderstanding and miscalculation…

…to prevent catastrophic conflict.”

Australia and India are close and trusted strategic partners.

Our partnership contributes to economic resilience and promotes strategic equilibrium in our region.

And we're working together to support an open, stable and prosperous region, where sovereignty is respected.

The need for countries to cooperate and collaborate is essential.

So, we're really lucky to have organisations like the Australia India Institute.

As I'm sure you've gathered, I'm a real believer in your work.

Because to me, people-to-people connections are really the foundation of any bilateral relationship.

What you learn listening to speakers during your time as an AILD delegate is only part of the picture.

The other part – perhaps the more important part – are the connections you form with the other leaders around you.

Connections you can draw upon tomorrow, or in years to come, that will serve both our countries well.

[Acknowledgements – check against attendance]

  • The Hon Ms Lisa Singh, CEO of the Australia India Institute
  • His Excellence Mr Manpreet Vohra, Indian High Commissioner to Australia
  • Ms Avani Prabhakar, Global Head of Talent and HRBP, Atlassian
  • Mr Abhay Mehta, Confederation of Indian Industry
  • Mr Nicholas McCaffrey, Assistant Secretary India Branch, DFAT

Media enquiries

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