India will participate in the New Colombo Plan when it expands across the Indo-Pacific region in 2015. The New Colombo Plan will build on our already strong education links with India and complement the Indian Government’s Connect to India initiative which funds five Indian universities to each host at least 30 international students, said Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott. India is our second largest source of international students with more than 30,000 Indians granted visas to study in Australia in 2013-14. The New Colombo Plan aims to increase understanding and knowledge of our region and ensure a more Asia-aware Australian workforce for the future. To further strengthen educational ties, a Memorandum of Understanding on Cooperation in Technical Vocational Education and Training has also been signed between the National Skills Development Corporation of India and the Australian Department of Industry. The Australian Government will provide a further $3 million in funding for Melbourne University’s Australia India Institute – Australia’s only national centre of research and analysis on India. Since its establishment in 2008, the Institute has played an important role in expanding understanding of the bilateral relationship. Its publications and activities have raised awareness of India among Australian decision makers, and have helped to change perceptions about Australia in India. welcome the Institute’s plans to open its first node in India in early 2015, supported by the University of Melbourne.
Make in India; Thank you so much, Andrew. It’s lovely to be here at the Taj Hotel, one of the truly magnificent hotels of the world. And yes, I have been here before. Back in 1981 I spent three months as a backpacker roaming around India – this mysterious, fascinating, enthralling sub-continent, this world in one country – and I spent a lot of time in third-class compartments of railway carriages, I’d spent a lot of time in two rupee a night hotels and I thought, “I’m going to have to treat myself”. So, I came here to the Taj Hotel and I had the best lunch this hotel could provide and I’m sure that the breakfast we’re about to enjoy will be no less splendid than the lunch I had here 33 years ago.
India has changed enormously over the last 33 years. I can remember on my first day in Mumbai watching a bullock cart take material into a nuclear power station. Well, 33 years on, there aren’t that many bullock carts left in urban India, and the power stations – the nuclear power stations – are more sophisticated than ever.
Australia still doesn’t have nuclear power stations, but the fact of the matter is this is a country which has amazed the world over the last few decades with its growth and its development – the world’s second most populous country; on purchasing power terms, the world’s third largest economy, clearly, the emerging democratic superpower of the world and a country with which Australia has long and warm ties.
The purpose of this trip, as far as I’m concerned, is to acknowledge the importance of India in the wider world, acknowledge the importance of India to Australia’s future, to let the Government and the people of India know what Australia has to offer India and the wider world for our part, and to build on those stronger foundations.
Prime Minister Modi has said that India is open. He hasn’t used the phrase ‘Open for Business’, but he said, “Come, make in India”, and I think that that phrase, “Come, make in India”, is very close in spirit and in intent to the phrase I have used of our country, Australia, that we are ‘Open for Business’.
So there is a lot to do – a very great deal to do. I think there have been times when we have focused on opportunities elsewhere in our region. I’m not saying that there aren’t lots of opportunities elsewhere in our region, but there is an abundance of opportunities here in India. I am determined to make the most of them, I know all of you are determined to make the most of them and I look forward to working very closely with you and with our Indian interlocutors over the next two days. Let’s enjoy our breakfast and enjoy our company.
More countries included in Colombo Plan: Meanwhile, The Federal Member for Reid, Craig Laundy MP, has welcomed the announcement
that the New Colombo Plan will be rolled out to over 35 countries across the Indo-Pacific due to the success of its pilot phase this year. “The New Colombo Plan is a signature policy initiative of the Government that is designed to increase the number of Australian undergraduate students studying in the Indo-Pacific region,” Mr Laundy said. “The New Colombo Plan pilot phase began in December last year, with the Government supporting over 1300 students to study and undertake internships in Indonesia, Japan, Singapore and Hong Kong. “Thanks to its outstanding success, I am delighted to announce that the Government has committed more than $100 million over five years to expand the New Colombo Plan across the Indo-Pacific. “The New Colombo Plan expansion will include India, offering young Australians an exciting opportunity to develop their academic and professional capabilities whilst learning about Indian culture. “The skills, knowledge and cultural understanding that these students will gain from their experiences abroad will enable them to build new friendships and contacts in their respective host nation. “Ultimately, sending our best and brightest to countries throughout the Indo-Pacific to learn, build friendships and strengthen ties with our neighbours will help facilitate increased bilateral trade and ensure that Australia takes full advantage of the region’s economic transformation into the future.” The work of the Institute complements the New Colombo Plan, by providing Australian researchers, academics and students with the opportunity to study in India. I would like to acknowledge the contribution the Director of the Institute, Professor Amitabh Mattoo, has made to Australia’s relationship with India.