Launch of ‘Australia’s Pivot to India’
I begin by acknowledging the traditional owners of the land on which we meet and I pay my respects to their elders past, present and emerging.
I am proud to lead a Government that will give every Australian the opportunity to vote Yes for recognition, vote Yes for listening and vote Yes for better results on October 14.
I’m very pleased to be here to launch Andrew Charlton’s new book.
To be fair, he did put me on the cover. But the inside is even better!
Australia’s Pivot to India is a thoughtful, warm and optimistic work that educates us about the past and challenges us for the future.
We get an engaging recap of modern India’s transformation from an inward-looking, high-tariff economy, to one of the fastest-growing economies in the world.
We learn the evolution of its foreign policy and strategic thinking, the move from declared, formalised non-alignment, to a more creative multi-alignment, with a greater emphasis on self-reliance as well as sovereignty.
And this book also confirms that while India was embarking on this journey, Australia was very much running on a parallel track.
Australia was modernising our economy and building new trade relationships but not enough with India.
We were engaging with our region and building a greater network of multilateral relationships but not enough with India.
Occasionally, governments would ‘discover’ India with a burst of enthusiasm.
But as Andrew writes, there was ‘no central core’ to the relationship.
The affection was broad and genuine but there was little depth.
Or as Gareth Evans says, there was no ‘ballast’.
This meant that when tensions arose, there was no way of maintaining continuity and communication.
Instead, any disagreement risked a spell in the diplomatic deep freeze.
And so, for too long, the bilateral relationship was underdone, under-explored and under-examined.
Happily as this book records that has changed a great deal in recent years.
Not only is our bilateral relationship stronger and deeper than it has ever been our multilateral engagement has gone to a new level.
We are, in Andrew’s words, building:
“A distinctive relationship that goes beyond transactional engagement and circumstantial alignment”
We see that in the revitalised Quad, the co-operation in Exercise Malabar as well as the work we are doing through the G20 on climate change and food security.
But just as importantly, we see it beyond summits and statecraft.
We see it in our people.
In communities like this one.
In a diaspora driven by aspiration.
In one of the many great little facts in this book – the top four names registered to play cricket in Australia this summer are Singh, Smith, Patel and Jones.
We see it in students and skilled migrants eager to embrace opportunities to better themselves.
And we see it travelling back the other way, as more Australian businesses get serious about India.
As small businesses show the leadership to take risks, invest and build connections.
With Deakin University becoming the first foreign tertiary education institution in the world, to open a campus in India.
It’s fitting that Andrew dedicates this book to his electorate and to the India diaspora because our people will be the pivot point.
Our people will be the ‘central core’ of a stronger, deeper and more diversified relationship between Australia and India.
They are not just the ballast, they are the engine.
Not just securing the relationship but taking it forward.
Andrew, congratulations on this important book.
I can promise you that as the Member for Parramatta and as a member of a Labor Government focused on deepening Australia’s relationship with India and determined to build greater peace, prosperity, security and stability in the Indo-Pacific, you are already helping write the sequel.
It’s a great pleasure to launch Australia’s Pivot to India.