Event ReportsPublished on Sep 13, 2021
Third Indo-Pacific Oration

Sunjoy Joshi, Chairman, ORF

Senator the Hon Marise Payne, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Minister for Women, Australia

Harsh V. Pant, Director, Studies and Head of Strategic Studies Programme, ORF

With the idea of the Indo-Pacific building greater salience, the potential for cooperation between India and Australia, two large democratic nations in the region continues to grow, reshaping the future of Asia and the world. This was the backdrop of the Third Indo-Pacific Oration, where Honorable Marise Payne, the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Women addressed the audience. With the session moderated by Harsh V. Pant, focused on the scope of the Indo-Australian partnership and the growing threats the Indo-Pacific region collectively faced. In his opening statement, Chairman Sunjoy Joshi highlighted some of the different areas of cooperation between India and Australia including climate change, terrorism, cyber intrusion, dependable supply changes, trade and security, remarking that both countries’ efforts to making the Indo-Pacific more resilient.

Minister Payne began her statement by highlighting the fact India and Australia’s shared values and interests have driven to a rapid convergence of ideas regarding the future of the Indo-Pacific. Appreciating that India is now in a regional leadership position, she acknowledged the important role Indian diaspora has played in Australia as well as New Delhi’s confidence and aspirations to move from a regional power to a global power of serious consequence. According to Minister Payne, the COVID-19 pandemic put a great deal of pressure on rules, norms and institutions, fueling dangerous levels of disinformation and disrupting global supply chains. While vaccines provide great hope in our world returning to normal, she acknowledged the role India has played in manufacturing and distributing vaccines to nations in need.

Discussing New Delhi and Canberra’s vision for the Indo-Pacific, Minister Payne laid out some of the key security challenges such as the impact of climate change, transnational crime, and terrorism along with problems posed by cyber and critical technology that are shared by nations of the region. While stressing the importance of the region being one that is open, inclusive, and resilient and where cooperation between nations is based on international rules and norms, Minister Payne pointed out that Australia seeks a region where the rights of all nations, large and small, are equally respected.

While observing the work India has done in regional forums as the Indian Ocean Rim Association, Indo-Pacific Oceans Initiative, and the East Asia Summit, Minister Payne pointed out that India and Australia also continued to work together in trilateral forums along with other like-minded nations such as France, Indonesia, and Japan. While talking about the Quad, Minister Payne stated that all nations part of the groping, the United States, India, Australia and Japan, were interesting in setting a practical and positive agenda. Given how quickly and effectively the Quad grouping has evolved over the last two years, and given the large scope of its prospective areas of cooperation, her belief is that the grouping is the kind of innovative diplomacy that the 21st century needs.

Minister Payne underlined that Australia wanted to work with India in areas of defence, maritime security, education, health, science, space, agriculture, marine ecology, knowledge partnership, funding disaster resilient infrastructure, and providing technical assistance to small island nations that would help them build their long-term resilience against climate change. Accepting that India was on a trajectory towards becoming a global manufacturing hub and a key market for emerging technologies, Minister Payne assured the audience of Australia’s desire to work with in India in achieving this ambition through secure supply chains. On Harsh Pant’s question regarding Canberra’s relationship with Beijing, the Minister stated that while the relationship was one of long standing and importance, she hoped that there would a greater degree of responsibility and adherence to institutional norms on part of China. Finally, while on a bilateral level both India and China were working towards an interim trade agreement, that would in the future pave way for a comprehensive economic agreement, Minister Payne was highly optimistic about the future of India and Australia relations.

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