Remarks - Ins Vikrant

09 Mar 2023
Mumbai, India
Prime Minister
INS Vikrant; strategic partnership with India; relationship with India; Exercise Malabar

I am honoured to be here today on the newly-commissioned, Indian-designed and manufactured INS Vikrant at the invitation of Prime Minister Modi.

My visit reflects my government’s commitment to place India at the heart of Australia’s approach to the Indo-Pacific and beyond.

While here, I have had the great pleasure of meeting with the talented and highly professional men and women of India’s Navy.

It made me reflect that strong defence relationships are forged over time and by many.

But arguably, what lifts defence relationships to new levels is the resolve and foresight of those who see the relationship not only for what it is, but what it could be.

Prime Minister Modi is one such person.

I’d like to thank him today – not only for his kind invitation for me to visit this landmark capability, but for his dedication in driving forward our defence and security partnership.

A partnership that is of increasing strategic importance as we navigate the challenges of our region together. 

For Australia, India is a top tier security partner. The Indian Ocean is central to both countries’ security and prosperity.

And there has never been a point in both of our country’s histories where we’ve had such a strong strategic alignment.

We both depend on free and open access to sea lanes in the Indo-Pacific for our trade and economic wellbeing.

And we share an unwavering commitment to upholding the rules-based international order and ensuring the Indo-Pacific is open, inclusive and prosperous.

I’m pleased to report that there’s never been a busier or more productive time in our defence and security partnership.

Last year, we conducted more exercises, operations and dialogues than ever before.

In a major step forward in our relationship, India and Australia undertook Maritime Patrol Aircraft deployments to each other’s territories for the first time.

In November alone we conducted increasingly complex and sophisticated exercises in Indo-Pacific Endeavour and Exercise Austrahind.

This was capped off by Exercise Malabar – where we bolstered our military interoperability with India, alongside close partners Japan and the United States.

More important than these statistics is the sheer complexity and high-end nature of our military engagements, which is unprecedented.

I predict that 2023 will be busier than ever for our defence cooperation.

As we speak, the inaugural Australia-India General Rawat Defence Officer Exchange Program is taking place in India.

This pioneering exchange program, created by Prime Minister Modi, will ensure our defence personnel develop the familiarity and trust that underpins a close and long-lasting relationship.

I am pleased to announce formally, aboard the magnificent INS Vikrant, that later this year Australia will host Exercise Malabar for the first time.

It will be a great privilege to welcome India’s Navy to Australia in August and I thank them again for hosting me here today.