India’s PM makes historic address to parliamentOn 01/31/2019 by admin
(Transcript from SBS World News Radio)
India’s prime minister Narendra Modi has heralded a stronger relationship and unprecedented opportunities for Australia and India to work together.
Mr Modi says Australia and India’s shared legacy founded in democracy ensures that cooperation between the two nations will strengthen every aspect of lives in both countries.
He’s addressed federal parliament in Canberra outlining his plans to establish India – with Australia’s help – as an economic powerhouse in the region.
Amanda Cavill reports.
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The first Indian leader to visit Australia in 28 years and the first ever to address the federal parliament, Narendra Modi says Asia looks to Australia as the heart of the Asia Pacific and the Indian Ocean region.
Mr Modi says there are few countries with which India has so much in common.
“India and Australia have a great economic synergy. There are huge opportunities for partnership in every area we can think of – agriculture, agro-processing, resources, energy, finance, infrastructure, education, and science and technology. The economic climate in India has changed. I believe it will be a lot easier to convert opportunities into concrete outcomes.”
Mr Modi says Australia is a vital partner in India’s quest for progress and prosperity.
One priority, he says, is to to bring electricity to India’s 300 million people who don’t have access to reliable power.
The Indian prime minister says he sees Australia as a major partner in every national priority area for India.
“Providing skills and education to our youth. A roof over every head and electricity in every household. The most affordable health care for the most difficult disease, the next generation of infrastructure that does not take a toll on our environment. Energy that does not cause our glaciers to melt. Clean coal and gas, renewable energy, our fuel for nuclear power.”
India and Australia have also committed to reaching a free-trade agreement by the end of 2015.
Introducing Mr Modi to parliament, Prime Minister Tony Abbott spoke about the deal, announced one day after he signed a declaration of intent with China.
Mr Abbott says he’s talked to the Indian Prime Minister about how to “crank up” the trade relationship.
He says Australia has recently negotiated free-trade agreements with Japan, Korea and now China – but he’s not satisfied with just that.
“We want to go further and that’s why the next priority for Australia is a comprehensive economic partnership agreement with India. If I may say so, this is a moment in time. This is the time to get this done. This is the time to turn the warm friendship between Australia and India, the long history that Australia and India have together, into something that will be meaningful, more meaningful for us and significant for the wider world.”
Opposition Leader Bill Shorten started his speech with the traditional greeting “Namaste”, winning applause from the public gallery.
Mr Shorten says it is the duty of Australia and India to build on their national and common values, mutual interests and to elevate and broaden the friendship.
“The great significance of your visit, indeed your leadership, is the paradigm shift in Indian politics from the politics of welfare to the politics of aspiration. I believe our task in this parliament is to build upon our economic relationship, the load-bearing pillar of the Australia-India friendship. To find that complementarity between what India needs for its growth and what Australia can supply: investment, energy, skills and training and services.”
Mr Modi spoke of the strategic challenges in the region, including persisting historic differences between countries despite a growing interdependence.
Relations between India and Australian have been rocky in recent years.
Tensions flared over attacks on Indian students in Melbourne, and two-way trade has remained static at around $15 billion a year, compared to China’s $150 billion trade relationship with Australia.