Students, faculty, Australian alumni, distinguished guests.
It is such an honour to be here at what is not just one of India’s most prestigious centres of higher education … but a place of world renown, and one that is publicly run and funded.
Professor Banerjee, Dr Saran and everyone at IIT-Delhi and the Observer Research Foundation — thank you so much for hosting this afternoon.
This is my third visit to India, but my first as Prime Minister. The first, I hope, of many.
I’m very pleased that my arrival has coincided with Holi. In all its colour and joy, this festival has become a beloved fixture on the Australian calendar, but it is so good to see it here at the source.
It partly set the scene for this visit — a celebration of the close partnership between our nations.
But this visit is also very much about the future. Because of our track record together, it’s a future I feel ambitious about.
It’s an ambition backed by a keen awareness that we have so much to do.
I’m the latest in a long line of Australian prime ministers who have come to India to celebrate and pay tribute to the warm and close relationship our two nations share.
And as I’ve moved from Ahmedabad to Mumbai to Delhi, the message I’ve delivered is this: Australia and India have never been closer. But we can do even more together.
To solidify the Australia–India relationship as one of the most consequential in our region.
To bring our economies and people closer still.
And to solve the greatest challenges of our time.
Our Comprehensive Strategic Partnership, achieved in 2020, and the recent India–Australia Economic Cooperation and Trade Agreement have laid the groundwork for the next phase of Australian–Indian cooperation.
Now’s the time to make these achievements count.
Let’s now lay out a pathway to deepen the work we do together across our entire spectrum of endeavour.
My discussions with Prime Minister Modi at our Annual Leaders’ Summit today — as well as my engagements over the past days — have zeroed in on the areas where I’d like to see even more collaboration.
Trade, investment and the economy.
Strategic and security engagement.
And a future built on clean energy.
On trade, our two-way trade more than doubled in the seven years to 2021.
I’d like to see that growth move faster.
This is a priority for my Government. We believe in free trade and we are working hard to deepen and diversify Australia’s trade links and supply chains.
If the global shocks of the past few years have taught anything, it is that we need to pay more attention to global supply chains.
The experience of recent years has shown us that it’s important to diversify our trading base, but also to strengthen our existing trading relationships.
And it has shown us that the economic complementarity between Australia and India is growing.
We are natural partners. Not only in traditional areas but increasingly in newer ones as we seize the opportunities of the transition to net zero, shaping the future rather than letting it shape us.
So we’re looking at ways to help businesses on both sides of the Indian Ocean benefit from easier access to each other’s markets.
I have been accompanied to India by more than 20 Australian business leaders from major companies.
Among them are representatives from the transport, resources, finance, university, energy, architecture and design, health, commodities and information technology sectors.
They have briefed me on the fruitful discussions they have had this week with Indian counterparts as part of the Australia-India CEO Forum, and the opportunities for deepening cooperation.
I’m also pleased to say negotiations are underway for a full Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement — one that will open access even further.
I’d like to take this opportunity to announce the appointment of Tim Thomas as the inaugural Chief Executive Officer of the Centre for Australia-India Relations.
The Centre, which will open later this year, will work across government, industry, academia and community to build greater understanding of the Australia-India relationship and support opportunities that arise flowing from our growing connections.
On education, we’re also hoping to break new ground — and I mean that in a very literal sense.
I was so pleased to announce that Australia’s Deakin University is on track to be the first foreign university in the world approved to open a physical campus in India, at Gujarat’s GIFT City.
And where Indian students aspire to study in Australia, our newest Maitri scholarships will provide that chance as well.
I know there are members of faculty here at IIT-Delhi — and in the audience now — who are Australian university alumni.
We are honoured to consider you part of our Australian family.
In 2017, I was honoured to launch the Australian Alumni Association of India website here in Delhi.
I very much want to see growing numbers of Australian and Indian students to have the experiences of living and studying in our respective countries, and to bring those experiences home.
Think of it as human cross-pollination. Through it we draw from each other’s strengths and add to our own – and in the process, each of us becomes something greater.
Of course, joining up our best minds is not just desirable
It’s a necessity — especially where the globe’s biggest challenges are concerned.
It was Gandhi who said that Earth can provide enough to satisfy every human’s needs — but only if we let it.
In the face of a changing climate, both Australia and India have begun to heed such warnings with the seriousness they deserve.
Prime Minister Modi’s remarkable goal for India to install 500 gigawatts of renewable energy capacity by 2030 will have a profound impact on the global energy transition.
The global move to a clean energy economy is here.
And it’s shifting gears – quickly.
To get a sense of what is possible, look at what India has already achieved.
Between 2018 and 2021, India increased solar generation by 31 terrawatt-hours. That’s enough power for 24.7 million Indians.
Over the next two years, domestic production of solar cells and solar modules in India is expected to more than double.
Australia is blessed with abundant resources used in the production of renewable energy.
It makes sense for Australia and India work together.
Working together means our goals can be reached sooner.
And the benefits of reduced costs and greater access to renewables can be shared — with our trading partners, too.
India’s manufacturing scale and huge domestic demand, Australia’s abundance of critical minerals, and our combined research nous, mean there’s plenty of mutual gain.
It’s my hope that our deepening cooperation on new and renewable energy can drive new innovation and investment.
And I look forward to seeing new clean energy projects, particularly on solar and hydrogen, coming to fruition. Because in them, we see one of the substantial foundations on which we can build a better future.
Across all of this work — from the economy to education to clean energy — India and Australia seek to work together.
Our interests are converged.
We’re aligned in our respect for the kind of planet we want our children and our grandchildren to inherit.
We’re aligned in our belief in education as a public good.
And in our commitment to democratic principles.
Australia is committed to a global order that’s free and fair — and an Indo-Pacific region where sovereignty is respected.
Our defence links are crucial, and they’re growing. I’m very pleased that Australia will host Exercise Malabar for the first time this year. Building real collaboration with partners like India, Japan and the US is a good thing.
But our strategic partnership isn’t only about defence links, as important as they are to regional stability and balance.
We are – and need to be – strategic partners in a deeper sense, working together and through structures like the Quad, to support stability and rules and fairness in the Indio-Pacific.
We have a huge year ahead – India is hosting the G20, and Australia will host the Quad leaders meeting.
I have had excellent talks with Prime Minister Modi and his team on the forward agenda.
Building the region we want requires sustained partnerships.
Ones defined by deep trust.
And we believe India is a natural leader in the Indian Ocean.
We’ve pledged to find new ways to capitalise on our strengths, manage logistics, and collaborate on research that benefits us both.
Working side-by-side, building on the foundations of a partnership decades in the making, and with a huge potential that is within our reach.
When India gained Independence, the Tricolour was unfurled at a midnight ceremony at New Delhi’s Constitution Hall.
Mere hours later, the flag was raised more than 10,000 kilometres away, in Canberra.
It was the first official raising of the flag outside of India.
Australia’s foreign minister at the time, “Doc” Evatt, used the moment to paint a picture of the relationship as he saw it, saying:
“Our geographical proximity and our common interest in the affairs of the Indian Ocean ... naturally throw our lots closely together.”
Broadly, Evatt was right.
But from my vantage point today, it’s safe to say there’s nothing “thrown together” about our relationship.
It has been a series of deliberate choices.
By our leaders and, more importantly, by our people.
Those who’ve crossed the Indian Ocean for travel or trade, searching for new opportunities or fresh perspectives.
And those who’ve chosen to build their lives on distant shores.
It’s in these bonds — of family, of migration, of friendship, and perhaps a dash of cricket — that the soul of the India-Australia relationship resides.
It’s easy to see why Australia and India are today such natural partners, and why there is so much more that – together – we can do. Should do. Will do.
Just as I’m so energised by being here in your dynamic country, I’m energised by the opportunities before us.
A shared future. Built on trust, respect, affection, and an embrace of a better tomorrow.
Students, faculty, Australian alumni, distinguished guests.