Australia and India: Common Goals, Budding Partnership
Image Credit: Office of the Prime Minister: Australia (Flickr)

Australia and India: Common Goals, Budding Partnership


A serious strategic partnership between Australia and India has long been a missing link in the security architecture of Indo-Pacific Asia. Now the gap is at last being filled, if a high-level visit this week is anything to go by.

Australian Foreign Minister Bob Carr was in New Delhi on January 21st and 22nd, to follow up the visit by Prime Minister Julia Gillard last October, which itself had heralded a breakthrough in ties between these two Indian Ocean democracies.  Carr’s talks with his Indian counterpart Salman Khurshid had a strong security focus. 

During the Cold War these were two democracies were estranged by the Western-Soviet divide. From the 1970s until recently, India's isolation by the nuclear non-proliferation regime prolonged mistrust between New Delhi and Canberra, long a self-styled anti-nuclear white knight.

Yet with a raft of growing shared security concerns ranging from the rise of China to transnational maritime issues and the scourge of jihadist terrorism, and with rapidly deepening economic and societal links, the logic of closer ties between Australia and India is now clear. Australia is now a major energy exporter to India's voracious economy, and Indian migration and investment is now helping sustain Australia’s own economic success.

The two main sources of trouble in the relationship have eased. Misperceptions and policy failures about the alleged mistreatment of Indian students in Australia a few years ago have now largely been addressed.  And at the end of 2011, the ruling Australian Labor Party took the historic decision to remove its blanket ban on entering talks about civilian uranium sales to India, a non-signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

Australia may or may not one day actually export uranium to India — that is almost beside the point.  Canberra will and should insist on proper safeguards for any sales, on a par with its arrangements with for instance China and Russia. Mr. Carr this week announced the start of safeguards negotiations, and sensibly neither side seems in a hurry.

What matters most for strategy and diplomacy is something else. Australia’s in-principle policy change on uranium removed a political barrier of mistrust and perceived discrimination from what should always have been a natural and positive relationship between two important countries with much to offer each other.

What's next? We can expect security relations to start evolving at an accelerated pace, adding flesh to the bones of a security declaration signed in 2009.  Already Australia and India are likely to be sharing strategic assessments related to issues ranging from Afghanistan to the changing power balance in the Indo-Pacific. There are plans for deeper dialogue on cyber security and coordination in international bodies like the East Asia Summit. Before long there will be moves to annual bilateral naval exercises and possibly experimental three-way consultations on maritime security challenges bringing in their shared neighbor Indonesia, as recommended in a recent major non-government dialogue

In the long run, there is much the two nations could do in shared monitoring of Indian Ocean maritime traffic and even cooperation in developing capabilities for amphibious operations and disaster relief.

At the same time, both nations remain relatively cautious — certainly more so than Japan — in trying to offset Chinese perceptions that this is all about balancing or containment.

Still, in the thickening and complex Indo-Pacific security web, the Australia-India strand is at last worth watching.

February 1, 2013 at 06:05

it is wrong to say that india ties with austrailia for counterbalancing the power game as indo-sino relationship is getting stronger day by day. Moreover the India-Russia-China pacts and arrival of BRICS have open the door for the healthy relationship b/w these countries.

Kim's Uncle
January 30, 2013 at 16:52

India and Australia will be natural allies in a coalition to contain sino nazi regime because CCP did not learn from imperial Japan the futility of waging aggressive war for conquest to seize natural resources! If sino nazi regime do not learn from the past then Chinese civilization will be destroyed!

Kangmin the Imposter
January 29, 2013 at 13:58

What about the open secret that Barack has all along been very busy supplying weapons to al-Qaeda's freedom fighters operating in north Africa, the Balkans, Caucasus and in the Mediterranean region. What do you make of this relationship ? Could this relationship be the passport to heaven for Barack ? Yes/ No / Maybe ? Possible huh ?

Paul Newman
January 29, 2013 at 13:53

How about adding these books to your list : Confessions of A  Economic Hit Man, The Evil Empire, The Apology of A Hired Killer, Peace Not Apartheid, Nemesis plus many, many other titles that are too many to fit here.

Boo Xiii Lam
January 29, 2013 at 03:37

@beway and CCP bloggers – May be some books like below to soothing your mood prior to respond to any blogs:
1) Seven years in Tibet,
2) Introduction to Tibetan Buddish
3) To a Mountain in Tibet
4) Capital, Socialism and Democracy
A bit of Romance:
1) Butterfly swords (tang Dynasty)
2) The Taming of Meilin.
3) The Russian Concubine
Please let me know if you need a complete list of books …

Partnership made in heaven
January 28, 2013 at 07:58

India and Australia should combine and become one nation. This way, people from the sub-continent can emigrate to Australia and enrich the island state which is at present rather arid and lacking in diversity and culture.

Kangmin Zheng
January 28, 2013 at 05:17

@Be Way,
"relationship between China and Korea"
Did you mean China suppied NK parts for last successful rocket launch?   
China condemned NK but secretly suppied parts behind the sceen.     Can't trust CCP.

January 27, 2013 at 09:31

Australia should open its doors to more immigration by people especially women and girls from the sub-continent. Australia is relatively underpopulated and the entry of more people from the Asian sub-continent will help erase the stigma that the land was stolen from the aborigines.

straight talk
January 26, 2013 at 20:26

be way, you are clearly an idiot if that is the only conclusion u deduct from reading these stories.brainwashed you obviously are!

January 26, 2013 at 05:00

You don't read a US Newspaper to understand the mindset of a Chinese commentator. Its actually reports from the English version of Global Times that makes me understand Chinese long term goals than anything ever written in Diplomat or anywhere else.
Maybe, you should read Chinese newspapers to understand Chinese views on these issues.

January 26, 2013 at 00:55

@Be Way: How do you brainwash someone? You systematically, consistently and repeatedly spread lies, false argument and distorted information and plant hatred to the innocent young minds. Doesn't it sound like what communism China has been doing decades after decades? Can you find another country that completely ignore what happened between1958 to 1976 in their history textbook? Can you find another country cherry-picking their history that serves their agenda? Can you find another country where a single party's well-being is placed way above  that of the country itself? Forget about the People Daily. There are thousands of newspapers in China with their only source of news  being Xinhua agency which is controlled by the communism propaganda division. No my friend, the west doesn't even have the ability to brainwash their audiences – they are too well informed, educated, respected and empowered to be washed. They are free and fair. They are exactly what China is missing.

Be Way
January 25, 2013 at 11:51

Frankly I seldom if ever, read any Chinese papers whether it's Xinhua, Global Times or the People's Paper.   Somehow I always feel that China's papers just lack the indepth writeup of the subject matter or simply it's just not sophisticated enough both in terms of its content, the layout and even its webpage.   It's like reading a story book without a good ending.    
That's why every piece of news about China that I read, is from Western Media like NYT, G&M, Telegraph, Guardian, Washington Post and even the Diplomat.  No, I don't read those pure gibberish news from VOA and RFA.   What is amazing is that after reading all these Western news, I realise that there is obviously some concerted hidden agenda to demonize China at every opportunities.    Every little minor incidence happening in China seems to be magnified many times over, in the similar manner as creating a mountain out of the molehill.   
I am truly brainwashed to believe China more than the Western propaganda of lies, deceit and disinformation.

January 25, 2013 at 05:18

It depends on what is the purpose of the Diplomat. If it is to promote the US view or Pro-US Asia Region view then it is doing its job well.
I understand the tone of its views and so read it for that reason, just like I read the Global Times to get an understanding of the Chinese views of the same types of issues.
You take into consideration these issues when you read these types of reports. There is truths in all of them and its up to the reader to beware, not to the writer who obviously believes in thier posts.

Be Way
January 25, 2013 at 01:43

The Diplomat is doing a lousy job for not covering the improving budding and burgeoning relationship between China and Russia, China and Korea, China and Australia, China and India as well as between China and the rest of the world.   Or likely as it appeared to be, the Diplomat is playing the protagonist role under the payroll of the CIA for promoting Western Imperialist propaganda of lies, deceit and disinformation, in its objective of demonizing China, Russia, the Muslims or any country not under Western hegemony, at every opportunities.
The dirty hand of the Diplomat is simply diabolical and disgraceful to say the least.

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