Bill's Speeches

Welcome to Prime Minister Modi






Madam Speaker.


I acknowledge the traditional owners of the land on which we meet and I pay my respects to their elders both past and present.


Prime Minister Modi, the applauding crowds that have greeted you around our country and here today in the house of the Australian people show how very welcome you are today.


Might I also add - Namaste.


You are here today as the first Prime Minister born in an independent India, the proud son and a distinguished former Chief Minister of your home State, the ‘jewel of the west’ Gujarat.


Your part of India has gifted so much to the world.


Gandhi's moral and intellectual leadership, centuries of poetry and literature.


Prime Ministers, diplomats, Tata and other industrialists, public sector leaders, the world's most affordable motor car and countless actors, writers and directors.


The Gujarati have always been travellers and adventurers.


Along with their fellow citizens from every part of the land of light and freedom, they have made an international leap of faith.


They have left behind the familiar songs, sights and stories of their childhood for a fresh start in our country.


This glorious Indian diaspora is one of the great touch tones and powerful success stories of our marvellous multicultural society – thousands of Indian stories joining our great Australian story.


And of course one of the firmest and fastest bonds that Indians form with Australians comes from our love of cricket.


Prime Minister Modi, in Australia we sometimes say that being captain of our Test team is the second toughest job in the country behind Prime Minister.


Some would say that we should never compare cricket with politics.


After all, one is the cause of great national debates, intense passion, endless media commentary on controversial decisions and leadership speculation.


And the other is just about deciding who governs Australia.


But in his 2011 Bradman oration, the ‘wall of India’, Rahul Dravid reminded Australians that on the 28th of June, 1930 when your illustrious predecessor Jawaharlal Nehru was arrested by the British, Sir Donald Bradman was busy decimating the English bowling attack, scoring 254 at Lords.


For Dravid and India's legendary cricket writer KN Prabhu, this was the motif of the 1930s.


As Nehru went in and out of jail, Bradman just stayed in - and the Australian went after the English like  ‘an avenging angel’.


Dravid also quoted Bradman's advice to a young Richie Benaud, every cricketer is only a ‘temporary trustee’ of the game.


Indeed all of us, leaders, parliamentarians and citizens are the temporary trustees of our international relationship.


It is our duty to build upon our national and common values, mutual interests, to elevate and broaden our friendship.


The great significance of your visit, indeed your leadership is the paradigm shift in Indian politics – from the politics of welfare to the politics of aspiration.


I believe our task in this parliament is to build upon our economic relationship, the load baring pillar of the Australia-India friendship.


To find that complementarity between what India needs for its growth and what Australia can supply:


  • investment

  • energy

  • skills

  • training

  • services


And our interests at converging more broadly on security and peace in the region.


Because India's great democratic character is not just about India, it has a resonance in our region and in the world.


Mr Prime Minister there is so much that binds us, so much that we share.


The national day, a colonial past, faith in democracy.


The rule of law, respect for diversity, a love of our vast, varied and fragile environments and a long tradition of bravery and sacrifice.


I promise you Prime Minister that Australians will never forget, 1,300 Indian troops who lost their lives on the Gallipoli peninsula.


I promise you Prime Minister, that Australians will never forget that Indians and Australians served, fought and fell with their face towards the foe from the deserts of North Africa to the prisoner of war camps of south-east Asia.


We’ve shared the duties of good international citizens in the service of peace.


Korea, Somalia, Cambodia, Rwanda, Sudan and other missions.


India has been the largest troop contributor to United Nations missions, providing more than 160,000 troops in 43 United Nations missions.


Prime Minister Modi, today, on behalf of the Opposition, I wanted to pay special tribute to your passion for education and equality.


We applaud your determination to bring dignity to the lives of every citizen, to “ensuring and securing the active participation of Woman Power in development” – and bringing new amenity and sanitation to every community.


And we share your belief in educations hope giving, life changing, transforming power.


We admire your great goal, freeing your people from poverty with the skills and knowledge that guard against the scourge of youth unemployment.


Prime Minister, we know that for you this is deeply personal.


The product and the lesson of your own journey, from hardship to the highest office in the land.


A reflection of your determination to be a ‘prime servant’, a leader at one with the dreams of the people.


A desire to give every member of India's next generation the chance in Gandhi's words, ‘be the change they wish to see in the world.’


Or as you expressed it in that memorable equation:


“IT + IT = IT.


Indian Talent + Information Technology = India Tomorrow”


Mr Prime Minister, one of Australia's greatest leaders, Ben Chifley, was a key supporter of Indian independence and a close friend of Prime Minister Nehru.


These were two great men of grand vision.


The authors of the ‘tryst with destiny’ and the ‘light on the hill.’


Just hours before his untimely death, Chifley conducted his last interview with the Indian media.


His message that evening was purely Chifley – sincere and unadorned.


He said:


Tell Nehru not to lose heart but to carry on.


India will still show the way to peace.


Prime Minister, you lead a great peace-loving democracy, with a renewed commitment to opportunity and equality, India does indeed, as Ben Chifley said, still show the way.


You lead a nation that will shape our region and inspire our world, and you honour us with this visit to the heart of our democracy.