Richard Marles writes: Our intertwined values and interests
It is no coincidence that my first two bilateral visits as Deputy Prime Minister and Defense Minister of Australia were to Japan and India.
The case for Australia making India a priority is unassailable: Australia must deepen its understanding and engagement with the nation that will soon be the world’s most populous and a profoundly consequential power.
Our world – and our region – is facing the most serious strategic confluence of events since the end of World War II: intensifying strategic and geoeconomic competition, the return of war in Europe, growing climate risks and lingering pandemic effects. , all of which are causing inflation and supply chain shocks. Countries that share common values and interests must work together with determination to shape our economic and strategic environment so that it continues to support our collective security and prosperity.
My visit this week to New Delhi and Goa is based on this belief and on the commitment of the new Australian government to put India at the heart of Australia’s approach to the Indo-Pacific and beyond. India’s economy, manufacturing capabilities and talents ensure that it will play a key role in securing supply chains and restarting post-pandemic growth. Its military has the ability and capacity to respond to natural disasters, help stabilize an uncertain region, and contribute to an effective balance of forces. And its technological and scientific capabilities are gateways to a cleaner, more sustainable world. Above all, the people of India have the optimism, the commitment to democracy, the will and the good will to make our region safer, freer and better.
Australia shares this ambition.
Ours is a global strategic partnership full of practical and tangible actions that strengthen ties and benefit the region. We are part of a very small group of countries that hold annual leaders’ summits and biennial 2+2 talks involving foreign and defense ministers. Today, our defense forces undertake more complex activities together, such as during Exercise Malabar with the United States and Japan. Last year, Indian military officials observed our exercise Talisman Saber, and I renewed the invitation to Indian forces to fully participate in future iterations of this exercise. We closely coordinate maritime domain awareness. This year, we have deployed P-8 surveillance aircraft to our respective territories for joint patrols. Yesterday I had the opportunity to see these capabilities in action, flying alongside dedicated Indian P-8 personnel.
Australia has also committed to a set of partnership initiatives in our India Economic Strategy Update. The update includes a five-year action plan for the Australian government to achieve the long-term ambitions set out in India’s 2018 economic strategy through 2035. It also includes new bilateral cooperation that spans the breadth of the relationship. These include the opening of a Consulate General in Bangalore in 2023 to tap into India’s tech and start-up hub, and a joint Australia-India Center of Excellence for Critical Technology Policy and emerging, also in Bangalore. In Australia, we will open an Australian Center for Indo-Australian Relations to propel and strengthen our community, institutional and business ties, including through a series of new Maitri (mateship) fellowships, fellowships and partnerships.
India and Australia have great potential for cooperation on climate and sustainability. As we do for the ethical production of critical minerals and resources, research and development of advanced renewable technologies, skills and education, waste and the circular economy, business, investment and manufacturing of point. Our government is committed to making Australia a renewable energy superpower, and we want to see India emerge as a cleantech manufacturing powerhouse.
As our bilateral relationship deepens, we need to start working more with others in the region. We see enormous potential in the Indian and Pacific Oceans, where we each have vital interests in combating climate change, illegal fishing and human trafficking, and responding to humanitarian crises and natural disasters. India and Australia have shown that when we work in partnership, as in the aftermath of the devastating underwater earthquake in Tonga, we are greater than the sum of our parts. Across the Bay of Bengal, we serve our partners’ needs, including connectivity, trade and energy, and maritime partnerships in the eastern Indian Ocean.
Australia and India take our commitments to our regional partners seriously. India has helped Sri Lanka through its current economic crisis. Australia is following suit, providing around 270 crore rupees (A$50 million) in official development assistance to support health services and economic recovery.
As I have discussed with many of my new counterparts, Australia has a vision of an open, inclusive and resilient Indo-Pacific region. It is a vision of a region that is more integrated than divided, where trade and investment flow freely based on agreed rules and treaty commitments, where disputes are resolved through dialogue in accordance with international law. and where a strategic culture that respects the rights of all states, large and small, prevails. It is a vision that we share with partners like ASEAN and partners like India.
Australia’s vision for regional peace and stability is for these principles, not against any one power. But these are not just words. It is based on investment, genuine partnership and action. Whether through joint activities with like-minded countries or through our support for the regional and multilateral architecture, Australia is ensuring that the region has options and balance.
Australia’s interests are not only aligned with those of India, they are inextricably linked. Expect this relationship to grow and prosper, our cooperation to deepen. This may be my first visit as Deputy Prime Minister and Defense Minister, but it certainly won’t be my last.
(The author is Australia’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defence)