I want acknowledge the traditional custodians of the land on which we are gathered tonight. In doing so, I pay my respects to their elders—past, present and emerging. I also extend that respect to any Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people here tonight.
Good evening everyone.
I would like to acknowledge our host—Director and Founder of the India Australia Business and Community Alliance, Ms Sonia Siddiq Gandhi, who is also an outstanding member of the Multicultural NSW Advisory Board.
And I’d like to acknowledge our distinguished guests.
It is a great pleasure to be here this evening, and thank you Sonia for the invitation.
I am here representing the NSW Government.
Ladies and gentlemen, India is an incredibly important and valued partner for NSW and Australia.
Our relationship has long been built on trade, business and culture.
And that relationship is strengthened by the fantastic Indian community we have in NSW.
In 2019-20 India was our state’s third-largest source of international students.
India represented our fastest growing tourism market, with Indian tourists spending an estimated $444 million in the year ending December 2019.
And India is one of our largest two-way trading partners, with merchandise trade reaching $2.8 billion.
Recognising the importance of this relationship with India, the NSW Government is working to ensure our partnership can flourish.
In a strong display of our unity, the NSW Government maintains Sister-State agreements with the Indian states of Maharashtra (2012) and Gujarat (2015).
To date, there has been collaboration with Maharashtra in vocational education and water management, and with Gujarat in urban planning and green infrastructure.
I am also pleased to say the NSW Government’s $60 million Aviation Attraction Fund has enabled the creation of a new flight route between Sydney and Bengaluru.
Qantas will operate four weekly return flights from Sydney to Bengaluru, starting on 14 September.
These will be the first non-stop flights between Australia and southern India by any airline—an incredible achievement.
Ladies and gentlemen, the NSW Government is also actively working to create opportunities to drive greater trade and investment.
For example, NSW’s Senior Trade and Investment Commissioner, Vish Padmanabhan, commenced in January this year.
With the expansion of the Investment NSW’s international network, its Indian team will grow to seven staff across Mumbai and Bengaluru.
Our trade priorities are focused on strategic growth sectors, including food and beverage, education and ed-tech, health and med-tech, critical minerals and mining equipment technology and services, and clean-tech.
Through a network of onshore and offshore advisors, we are delivering a comprehensive export program, supporting 11 high-growth NSW ed-tech companies to identify partners, distributors and end users.
Our Government also recognises the close cultural ties between NSW and India have long been strengthened by the students who choose to study at our world-class educational institutions.
As we emerge from the pandemic, we have focused our efforts on enabling students to return safely.
For instance, more than 170 students from India were on board the specially-chartered flight which touched down in Sydney on Christmas Eve last year.
This was one of the first flights to bring international students back to Australia as restrictions lifted.
At the Commonwealth level, Australia is extending the opportunity for Indian students studying here to live, study and work temporarily for up to four years when they finish their qualification.
This will make NSW an even more attractive study destination for Indian students.
We are also seeking to increase Indian investment into NSW with incentives such as our $250 million Jobs Plus program and the opportunity to be part of our world-class education, innovation, jobs and skills precincts.
These precincts include Tech Central, Western Sydney Aerotropolis and the Westmead Health and Innovation District.
As NSW is the world’s leading multicultural society, our major milestones, cultural and religious celebrations are a shared experience for everyone.
This year I note India celebrates 75 years of independence in August.
I understand DFAT is partnering with the Indian High Commission and engaging think tanks, the private sector, arts, sporting and cultural organisations to celebrate India and its people, culture and achievements.
And NSW is keen to support these celebrations.
With all that being said. The NSW Government recognises that groups such as the India Australia Business and Community Alliance play an incredibly important role for us in helping build and maintain a strong relationship with India.
That is why the NSW Government is proud of the partnership we have with IABCA and proud to be a major sponsor of this event.
And this event is a fantastic way to celebrate the very people, organisations and businesses that have not only helped NSW build a strong relationship with India, but Australia as a whole.
It is because of you, the people here in this very room, that we have such a strong and prosperous relationship with India.
And I have no doubt that you will continue to help the NSW Government deliver on its commitment to connecting NSW globally by raising awareness of important trade markets and bringing together senior decision-makers.
Ladies and Gentlemen, on behalf of the NSW Government, I thank you for inviting us to this fantastic event, and I congratulate all the nominees, finalists and of course winners.