India Reception Hosted by Trade and Investment Queensland In Association with the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry
Thank you Commissioner Shirname. I too wish to acknowledge the High Commissioner to India, President of the Federation of Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry Organisation, and all other distinguished guests.
Kaye and I are truly honoured that you have joined us this evening, and that you have done so with such enthusiasm gives further strength and substance to a bilateral relationship that has brought great benefits to Australia and India for many decades, and one that is set to strengthen as Queensland hosts the Leaders’ Summit for G20, a forum of which India is such an integral part.
It is a real privilege to be here as the Governor of Queensland, a position similar to Governors and Lieutenant-Governors of Indian states and union territories.
Our two nations share many things in common: well entrenched democracy, and a commitment to the rule of law, being among our greatest shared assets. I am also conscious of our nations’ historical links, and this year marks 100 years since both nations became involved in the First World War. Indian soldiers fought and died alongside Australian and New Zealand troops, including in the trenches at the Battle for Gallipoli, a campaign commemorated with utmost reverence in Australia. This early demonstration of public comity is emblematic of a certain spirit of reciprocity and trust that continues to strengthen between our two countries.
Economic engagement is also crucial to our bilateral engagement, a point our respective Prime Ministers referred to as a “pillar of the relationship” in a joint statement released following the State Visit of the Prime Minister of Australia to India earlier this month.
Both India and Australia want to boost two-way trade, which last year was valued at $15.2 billion Australian dollars, three times what it was a decade ago. About a third of this trade occurs directly between Queensland and India. However, as Australia’s Prime Minister flagged in his address at the Indian Chambers of Commerce Lunch here in New Delhi in September, two-way trade is not at the levels it should be, and Queensland can play an important role in increasing this trade.
Importantly, India is currently the third largest buyer of Queensland coal – which is our major export commodity – and India continues to be a major investor in the Queensland coal sector.
In agriculture, Queensland has taken advantage of India’s growing counter-seasonal demand for fruit and vegetables, and over the past few years, India has become Queensland’s largest export market for fruit and vegetables, particularly chickpeas.
In education, India is Queensland’s second largest source market for international students enrolled in education and training institutions, and is also becoming increasingly important as a source market for international visitors.
Our relationship is, however, much broader than this, encompassing investment attraction and export development across the mining equipment, technology and services, transport, construction and infrastructure, agriculture, education and training, and emerging opportunities in health and life sciences, and arts and culture.
And, of course, there’s film production, with Bollywood filming taking place on Queensland’s magnificent Gold Coast! And it is pleasing to see that cricketers and Bollywood stars are not exclusive professions, as former Australian fast bowler-turned Bollywood star Brett Lee is demonstrating!
On that cricketing note, the first test match of the Australian summer will be played against India at The Gabba in Brisbane – the capital city of Queensland, in December. The Gabba will also host games as part of the twenty-fifteen I-C-C Cricket World Cup, and I take the opportunity to wish the Indian team well in these events, even the ones on my home turf in Brisbane!
Kaye and I thank you for joining us this evening, and on behalf of Trade and Investment Queensland, I would like to thank the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry for their association with tonight’s event. We trust you will enjoy the hospitality on offer, as a token of our gratitude for the wonderful work you do, strengthening the relationship between India and Australia, and the great State of Queensland in particular. And please, utilise Queensland’s Trade and Investment resources, including our Commissioner Parag Shirname. He and his team are here to assist exporters to uptake opportunities into emerging and established markets, and to promote Queensland as a secure place to invest. Please, let us enjoy a wonderful occasion. Thank you.