Radio interview - 2GB Drive

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese
Prime Minister

CHRIS O'KEEFE, HOST: I'm joined by our Prime Minister. Anthony Albanese. G'day, Prime Minister.

ANTHONY ALBANESE, PRIME MINISTER: G'day, how are you going? What a fantastic day it will be. We had a very productive meeting this morning and people would have seen some footage, perhaps, of last night's rather extraordinary event there at Homebush, where Prime Minister Modi received such a warm welcome from Australians of Indian origin.

O'KEEFE: Just quickly on the Opera House, we'll get into the nitty gritty of your meeting with Narendra Modi shortly, but just on the Opera House, there's been a bit of controversy around it not being lit up for the King's Coronation. Can you confirm that the Federal Government is paying for the Indian flag to go on the sails tonight?

PRIME MINISTER: Yes, we are.

O'KEEFE: Do you think that that is appropriate given that the King's Coronation was not recognised in the same way?

PRIME MINISTER: Well, we have a decision to make about this, it wasn't our decision about the King's Coronation, state governments took various decisions around the country. The Federal Government certainly acknowledged the King's Coronation, on all of our federal buildings in Canberra there were displays that were appropriate, I believe. I had the great honour of representing Australia, along with the Governor-General, at the King's Coronation, and I regarded it as an honour for me to do so.

O'KEEFE: Given you're man from Sydney, would have you liked to see the sails lit up for the King's Coronation the same way they're being lit up tonight for the visit from the Indian Prime Minister?

PRIME MINISTER: I was in the UK when that occurred, so I wasn't a party to any of those decisions. But one of the things about lighting up the Opera House is that it projects our image to the world. They get to see it, it will mean that there is coverage. There are 1.4 billion reasons why we want the Indian flag on the Opera House, because it is the largest population in the world. Two-thirds of those 1.4 billion people are under the age of 35. We want a relationship with them, we want them to come to Australia, bring their dollars, create jobs and create that economic activity in the tourism sector.

O'KEEFE: It sounds like if you had your way, Chris Minns would have lit it up for the Coronation, but I'll move on. Can you just explain the Labour Mobility Agreement you signed with the Indian Prime Minister?

PRIME MINISTER: That provides for 3,000 places for people who are highly skilled to come to Australia in areas that we need. We know that having people from places like Hyderabad and Bengaluru are leading the world in information technology and in so many areas, and if we can have those people come and impart their skills here, over a couple of years, which is what the visas will be for, then it will greatly benefit Australia, and of course they will get to experience the wonder of being in Australia for that period of time as well. The relationship between Australia and India is so important. And our educational institutions, Deakin University, which is based in Victoria, and Wollongong University, will be opening campuses, the first foreign campuses ever to be in India. That will open up opportunities for Australians to go and study in India, and vice-versa. India will grow to be the third-largest economy in the world in coming years and there's enormous advantages. This is a pretty big market, Chris, and it's a real opportunity for Australian business.

O'KEEFE: There is some concern, though, around fraud. I noticed Home Affairs said that they're looking at one in four student visas from India, are either frauds or non-genuine. Does that concern you?

PRIME MINISTER: Well, of course, anytime that there is activity that isn't appropriate, it needs to be looked at. And that's one of the reasons why we are on top of that. We want to make sure that we benefit, but we can't look beyond the fact that education is Australia's largest service export. It is such an opportunity to create jobs and economic activity. And one of the things that happens is that not only do Indian students, so many, there have been hundreds of thousands over the years, have been trained in Australia, the benefit at that time, but they come back. And they come back with families, they come back as tourists, they bring their parents and their kids and they stay for a long period of time when they come, and that is just such a bonus for Australia's economy.

O'KEEFE: Just on your meeting with Narendra Modi, I know you've met him six times recently. Have you ever raised the call scam industry in India? Because we're getting calls from Indian scammers once, twice a week sometimes, ripping off Australians en masse. It's an industry over there.

PRIME MINISTER: Well scamming is something that my government is taking action on and we've been very -

O'KEEFE: But Prime Minister, it's very hard when it's coming out of India and originating from India in such an industrial way. Have you raised it with the Prime Minister of India?

PRIME MINISTER: Well scams are raised with a range of countries. I don't talk about the detail of private arrangements that I raise when we have private meetings – that's how you deal diplomatically. I know that Prime Minister Modi would be very concerned as well. The big problem we have with scams from our national security advice that we receive is of course Russia, that doesn't seem to care too much of what is going on from their country.

O'KEEFE: But in terms of the Indian scams, they're happening all the time. I'm sure even a prime ministerial mobile would get calls from Indian scam centres.

PRIME MINISTER: I've got to say I haven't had calls on my mobile at all from, perhaps there's security devices on that, that's stopped that trick.

O'KEEFE: You're lucky.

PRIME MINISTER: But I'm certainly aware that scams are a major problem and that they originate from various countries around the world, and from Australia sometimes domestically as well. And it's something that my government's determined to stamp out.

O'KEEFE: And just before I let you go, I know you have to get moving. But just very quickly on India, I know it's a massive market, but it feels like we've gone down this path before with China. Is it important that we diversify our business markets all across the world and not throw all of our eggs in the one basket like we did back in 2014 when President Xi visited?

PRIME MINISTER: That's exactly right. And that's why engagement with the rising economies of India and Indonesia are so important. At the moment, if you look at our exports, our exports to China are larger than the next three countries of the United States, Japan and South Korea. So that will give you just some idea of how dependent we became on China. Now, China remains an important economic relationship, but it is important that we diversify. Over coming years, India will be the third-largest market in the world, Indonesia will be the fourth-largest market in the world. And my government, through Penny Wong and through our economic ministers as well, is very engaged, particularly with the ASEAN countries. We have to our north the fastest growing economies of the world in human history. That presents an enormous opportunity for Australia if we get it right.

O'KEEFE: Prime Minister, I know you've got to go. I appreciate your time.

PRIME MINISTER: Thanks very much, Chris.