Sada-e-Watan Sydney ™

Transcript Speech of the Senator the Hon. Bob Carr, Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs
Sub-Continent Friends of Labor Annual Dinner
6.30pm, Saturday 23rd June 2012 at Bowman Hall, Blacktown Sydney

Michelle, thank you for your warm words.

It is a privilege to be here tonight.

When Ed and Michelle invited me, I was delighted.

This is an event I could not say no to.

I’d like to acknowledge …

×          The Hon. Michelle Rowland

×          The Hon. Ed Husic

×          John Robertson MP

×          State and Federal Ministers

×          Mayors and Councillors

×          Sponsors (TBC)

×          And of course the Sub Continent Friends of Labor

It is always a privilege to be among friends.

I am proud of my involvement with the sub-continent community.

As some of you here will remember, when I was Premier, I approved the first ever illumination of a Parliament House in the world to mark Deevali celebrations in 2003.

This was an easy decision for me to take.

It is something that I remember fondly and a recognition I remain committed to.

The efforts of your association, the sub-continent for Labor, are greatly appreciated.

The Labor Party welcomes your interest in both state and federal politics.

I’m here tonight because I understand the importance of building linkages across and between cultures and countries.

This is the real job of a Foreign Minister.

I understand the importance of the sub-continent community to Australia.

You represent what the Asian century is all about.

You are globally connected.

You are interested in innovation and ideas.

… And you are working for a fair go for all.

You represent Labor values.

You understand what we need to do to capitalise on this time of national prosperity in a time of global uncertainty.

Your defence of multiculturalism is to be applauded.

As my colleague Michelle Rowland has said time and again:

"The Subcontinent community is a highly valued and much respected part of Australia’s multicultural landscape."

Your outreach has not gone unnoticed.

I would like to Congratulates Mr.Harish Velji, Founder of Sub Continent Friends of Labor for arranging this wonderful evening.

It is valued, but more importantly, it is recognised.Whether it be at a sub-continent Labor function at the Himalaya Restaurant where Syed Zafar Hussain is working to build bridges between communities…

Frank discussions at a fringe event with the Immigration Minister, my friend and colleague, Chris Bowen, on issues as important as visas and family reunion. . .

Or “Parramasala” that brings Parramatta to life every year with a unique mix of arts, culture and food inspired by South Asia’s rich mix of traditions and cultures.

The Subcontinent Friends of Labor group has been working tirelessly to advance the Labor party’s aims at both NSW State and Federal Elections.

Australia’s International Engagement

Australia’s relationship with the sub-continent continues to grow.

This Government has recognised the importance of the sub-continent as an engine for growth and prosperity.

We want this to continue.

As Foreign Minister, I want Australia to capitalise on this.

Notwithstanding China’s enormous contribution to the region, I want Australians to remember that Asia is more than just China.

India is Australia’s fourth largest export market.

… and our eight largest trading partner.

Indian investment in Australia is increasing rapidly, particularly in the resources and energy sector.

Australia’s diplomatic presence in India has increased by 50% in recent years with consulates opening in Mumbai and Chennai.

Similarly, our relationship with Pakistan has grown in recent years.

We are working with Pakistan to improve the strength of its institutions.

This government has more than doubled Australia’s aid program to Pakistan since 2008 to over $115 million a year.

Much of this is being directed to rebuild the country after the devastating floods of 2010.

Australia is leading the world with its commitment to rebuild Afghanistan.

Our commitment to Afghanistan will total one billion dollars over the next four years.

This money will help build security, infrastructure, economic opportunity and the effectiveness of its government.

In Afghanistan, we have focused on improving health and education.

A stable and prosperous Afghanistan is good for the region – it is good for Australia.

This commitment continues to both Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.

In both countries, we remain committed to building economic partnerships and social development.

In Sri Lanka our development assistance is helping reconstruction after 20 years of conflict.

In Bangladesh, Australia has recently committed $180 million over the next four years and will work with the United Kingdom and BRAC to lift literacy and the quality of education – an area I have been committed to my whole life.

For our Fiji-Indian friends, I say to you that in Ed Husic you have a great champion.

It was his personal response to your concerns about the local victims of Fiji’s recent floods that highlighted to me the needs of many on the ground.

We have responded with an additional two million dollars for reconstruction efforts.


I would like to end with a reflection from Jawaharlal Nehru’s, The Discovery of India.

In this passage he celebrates the melting pot that is the Sub Continent.

Despite the passing of time and the drawing of borders, you cannot mistake the central message:

Ancient India, like ancient China, was a world in itself, a culture and a civilisation which gave shape to all things. Foreign influences poured in, and often influenced that culture and were absorbed.

We should not be scared of outside influences ... other attitudes.

And how they can be absorbed into a great multicultural society.

This is the overlap of cultures.


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