Australia-India Cyber and Critical Technology Partnership

  • Transcript, E&OE

Assistant Minister for Foreign Affairs: Thank you for that introduction, Toby and let me take this opportunity to thank you for all of the years of very hard work and trailblazing efficacy you're put in to your role as Australia's Ambassador for Cyber Affairs and Critical Technology. The people in this room, know the contribution that you have made in this role, particularly to furthering our interests on the subcontinents. So thank you.

I don't have a prepared speech for you tonight. You'll all be very relieved to hear. Events like this are - as you say the real magic happens in the conversations between all of you, not the person on the podium spouting their insights to you. But looking at the people that gathered in the room around this it made me reflect on the nature of my personal relationships [indistinct] and the potential [indistinct]. Australia's Former High Commissioner –[indistinct] Barry's here. One of Barry's [indistinct] predecessors Arthur [indistinct] when he was sent to Australia as High Commissioner - sent to India as High Commissioner in 1965 wrote back to Australia that Australia and India are such natural partners. We have so many shared interests. We have shared values, shared democratic heritage. It seems like we ought to be working together on everything just natural partners. It's a fertile field for cooperation. He said, no one can seem to work out what to plant in the field and so this is a relationship that's been underweight I think for many decades. Something that we could have achieved far more from.

My proposition is that the seed that's really unlocking this relationship today is the Australian-Indian disparate communities. The electorate that I represent in Melbourne's West, one in ten of my constituents were born in India. And that's a story that we're seeing over and over again across Australia. Around a million Australians now have Indian heritage and seven [indistinct] of that born in India. It's a very, very big community. A dynamic, energetic, influential community in Australia and they are our ambassadors and our human bridges to a subcontinent. And we're seeing the dividends of that in rooms like this, particularly in the technology space, but across the whole domain, the relationship.

I've had many of these people to people relationships myself. We're talking about the first trip to the year. My first trip to the year was as a - I think I was 21 at the time and I turned up in Mumbai. I grew up in country Australia. I turned up in Mumbai and there was more sensory assault than I'd ever experienced in my life. I was staying in a $5 a night apartment on my own, which I thought was a great bargain and my mind was just blown away. I fell in love with the country instantly. So much. I think I'm still processing all of that. But I've continued to come back to India, in India, since I was in Bengaluru in 2016 as part of the Australian-India Youth Dialogue. Which, again, had a technology focus. And I know Sam is in the room tonight, he stands out in rooms like this, another AIYD alumnus. And there are these network bringing up all across the Australian-India relationship. And that's what the new Australian Government is trying to back in.

We want to really realise the potential of this relationship, the natural alignment of the values, the interests, the perspectives, the shared democratic heritage between Australia and India. All of those people to people connections across the disparate. That's what the Australian Government wants to back here. So while there's been a change in the Australian Government this year that made me very happy, one thing that hasn't changed is the Australian Government's commitment to India and particularly to the south. So we'll be pursuing the establishment of the Consular General in Bengaluru. We'll be pursuing the establishment of the Centre of Excellence for Cyber and Critical Technology policy here in Bengaluru. Really significant opportunities building on that institutional architecture that we see. They're very soon to be formalised ECTA agreement and then pushing on with new agendas in the comprehensive economic cooperation agreement that we negotiated. With the Indian Government we'll be pushing the cooperation with digital services and government services.

So, the Australian-India relationship, in my view, has never been stronger. But we're at the cusp of taking it into an even more exciting phase and frankly, it's not governments that are going to do that, it's people in room like this that are going to do that. So, do your networking tonight. Be energetic in doing so and know that you have the full support of the Australian Government in doing so. Good luck.

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