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Thursday, 14 September 2023
Page: 77

Dr CHARLTON (Parramatta) (16:34): Over the weekend, India held the G20 leaders summit. For India, its leadership of the G20 has been a year-long opportunity to showcase India as an influential diplomatic and economic power and to drive investment and trade flows into the world's most populous country. The meeting in India went well. Much was achieved. New Delhi should take justifiable pride in its achievements over the course of and the lead-up to the summit.

Prime Minister Albanese's visit to India last week was his second visit to India in one year. He becomes the first Australian Prime Minister to visit India twice in a single year. Prime Minister Modi's visit to Australia earlier this year made him the first Indian Prime Minister ever to visit Australia twice in their term. In addition, no less than 12 Australian ministers have travelled to India in this year—already a record, and it's only September.

This unprecedented level of activity is not an accident. It reflects the fact that India's role in the world and its importance to Australia are accelerating, perhaps more rapidly than any other country. I want to pay tribute to the Minister for Foreign Affairs and the Prime Minister, and to our diplomats, including High Commissioners Manpreet Vohra and Philip Green, and former High Commissioner Barry O'Farrell, who've worked so hard to build this relationship.

The blossoming of Australia's friendship with India is important to both nations. This year, India became the largest nation in the world by population. The last time that title changed hands was after the fall of the Roman Empire. India is growing so quickly that, by 2070, its population will rival those of China, the United States and the European Union combined. India also has the fastest economic growth of any major nation. It has the second-largest armed forces and the fastest-growing military capability in the world. Projecting this forward, it's hard to overstate the influence of India on our world in the coming decades. Just as the 20th century was dominated by the United States and the 19th century was ruled by the British Empire, we may well end the 21st century with India on top.

India's inexorable superpower trajectory isn't just evident in the numbers. It's also palpable in the streets: driving, running, selling, begging, cooking, shouting and sitting—there is a sense of anticipation amongst the people of India. In every city and every village, you can feel the fast-dawning realisation that what happens here will change the world.

And this is not all distant geopolitics. India's rise is also changing Australia at home. Migration from India has massively accelerated in the last three decades. Indian Australians are by far the fastest-growing ethnic group, and they recently overtook Chinese-born Australians and New Zealand-born Australians, and are on track to take over the number of Australians born in the United Kingdom, to become Australia's largest group of first-generation migrants.

Already the Indian diaspora has blossomed into an extraordinary community, numbering more than one million Australians, which means that nearly one in 25 Australians has Indian heritage. In my electorate of Parramatta, we're home to one of the largest Indian diasporas in Australia, with places like Little India that showcase subcontinental culture and have become a tourist destination for people from all over Australia and all over the world.

Shortly after his appointment as Australia's High Commissioner to India in 1965, Arthur Tange sent a slightly agitated note to foreign minister Paul Hasluck. Arriving to find a listless diplomatic relationship, Tange wrote to his boss that, while there was fertile ground between the two countries, 'No-one seems to know what seed to plant.'

Well, we finally know what seed to plant in the Australia-India relationship. That seed is the diaspora, the more than a million people with Indian heritage who call Australia home—people who are making an enormous contribution to Australia's economic, cultural, social and community life. Indian migrants to Australia are fabulously well-qualified. They have very high rates of educational attainment. They make huge contributions to our economy, to our business community, to our education community, and to our society in culture and the arts.