Remarks to Australia-India Business Engagement Roundtable

  • Transcript, E&OE

I acknowledge the traditional owners of the land on which we are meeting, the Wurundjeri and the Bunurong people of the Kulin Nation, and pay my respects to their elders past and present.

I extend that respect to any Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples with us here today.

And I recommit myself, as do all members of the Albanese government, to the full implementation of the Uluru Statement from the Heart, Voice, Treaty and Truth.

It’s my particular privilege today to be able to play host to the Foreign Minister, and this week, our acting Prime Minister, Senator Penny Wong.

I’m also pleased to recognise a number of my Victorian Parliamentary colleagues here today.

In this vein, I’m delighted to be able to play host to this Australia-India Business Engagement Roundtable because it draws together my roles in the Parliament, as the Member for Gellibrand, and in the Executive, as Australia’s Assistant Minister for Foreign Affairs.

As Assistant Minister for Foreign Affairs, I’ve been delighted to visit India with the objective of expanding our trade relations.

Last year I led a delegation of 30 Australian businesses to Karnataka for the Bengalaru Tech Summit where I promoted Australia as a partner for trade and investment in the technology sector.

In a lot of respects, this delegation was familiar work.

As a local MP in Melbourne’s West I’m proud to represent some of the fastest growing communities in Australia, and the fastest growing community in Melbourne’s West is our Indian-Australian diaspora community.

More than 1 in 10 of my voters was born in India, the fourth most of any electorate in the country.

My community would be unrecognisable without the civic, cultural and economic contributions of our Indian-Australian diaspora.

While my community is at the vanguard of this change, it’s not an outlier.

My community is on the front line of a national trend that has seen Australia’s Indian-Australian diaspora community grow to almost one million Australians who have Indian heritage; with around 670,000 born in India.  

India is now Australia’s biggest source of skilled migrants and our second biggest source of international students.

This diaspora is young, energetic, ambitious, dynamic and influential.

And as the Varghese Report on An India Economic Strategy to 2035 has made clear, this is an invaluable national asset for deepening ties between these two countries.

As Peter Varghese has said, this diaspora

“can go into the nooks and crannies of a relationship where governments cannot.

They can shape perceptions in a way governments cannot.

And they create personal links, in business, the arts, education, and civil society which can help anchor the relationship.”

India is currently Australia’s sixth largest trading partner, but we know that there is so much potential in this economic relationship.

We understand that our diaspora communities are the key to unlocking this potential, and that’s why we’re all here today.

We’re here to listen to you and learn from your experiences.

We want to hear from each of you about how you see the Australia-India relationship, what the opportunities are and importantly, any challenges that you want to draw to our attention.

I might first ask everyone to introduce themselves, then I’ll ask the Foreign Minister and then Swati Dave, the inaugural Chair of the Centre for Australia-India Relations to make some remarks.

I’ll then open up the room for discussion.

On that note, it’s my pleasure to give the floor to the Foreign Minister, Penny Wong.

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