Federation Chamber, 13 February 2018
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Mr KEOGH(Burt) (16:42): It was my pleasure to be part of a delegation to the Australia India Youth Dialogue in Delhi and Mumbai earlier this year. I was joined by 14 Australian delegates and 15 Indian delegates who came together to discuss economic and cultural ties, civic engagement and digital disruption and its impact on the Australia-India relationship.
India has the world's second-largest population, with over a billion people and the world's third-largest economy. It is projected to expand over the next two to three decades and even eclipse China as the world's most populous nation. This highlights the very important relationship for Australia, and more specifically my home state of Western Australia, which of course borders the Indian Ocean. Western Australia's Indian population has also had strong growth. In 2015 approximately 20,000 Indian visitors came to Western Australia, and we had over 6,000 Indian students studying at WA universities. In fact, at the last census around five per cent of my constituents in the electorate of Burt were born in India. There is no doubt we are close partners, each with vibrant democracies and a shared commitment to the development and stability of our region.
The Australia India Youth Dialogue was born out of the 2009 attacks on Indian students in Melbourne. The proposition of the founders was that there was no existing mechanism to bring young leaders together to discuss in a proactive and constructive way issues that were misconstrued in the media. Today the AIYD has a broader function, serving as an important forum to bring young leaders together and inform government, business, community and cultural groups on both sides of how to best shape policy and create opportunities for both nations going forward.
To leverage those opportunities, it is important that we build on existing relationships. We have strong economic links, with India being Australia's ninth-largest trading partner, representing two-way trade of over $20 billion. But we can, of course, do more. India and Australia also share a history of British colonisation. Today we continue to share key components of our political and legal frameworks. A key area of our discussion focused on these sorts of cultural ties. Both countries have a strong history of Indigenous art, but those who create that art aren't always fairly compensated for the work they put in. There are other challenges that Indigenous artists face, including the fact you can't always identify and verify the identity of the original artist, making fraud a common issue. An outcome of the dialogue is work now happening to implement a blockchain system to validate and authenticate pieces of Indigenous art in both countries so you can trace who the original artist is.
During the forum, we also explored the idea of holding a cultural intelligence exchange program with high-school-aged participants from both countries coming together to share culture and enhance English skills. Second-track processes like the Australia India Youth Dialogue can build on our already strong relationship and realise the full potential of future social, cultural and economic opportunities. I look forward to continued involvement with the dialogue in the future.