I am pleased to provide this message on the occasion of Diwali 2014.
Diwali – the Festival of Lights – is marked by millions of people around the world, including many of the 450,000 Australians of Indian origin.
It is a time to enjoy good food and entertainment, and to celebrate the bonds we share with family and friends. It is also an opportunity to reflect on the meaning of Diwali – the triumph of light over darkness.
In periods of conflict and uncertainty, Australians and Indians have worked, fought and sacrificed together. Our men served side by side at Gallipoli in the First World War. In the Second World War, they endured extreme hardship after the fall of Singapore.
Australia and India have a strong friendship based on shared history, a commitment to democracy and the rule of law.
Today, our two countries share growing trade and people-to-people links. Two-way trade between Australia and India is around $15 billion a year and India is our second largest source of international students with over 30,000 currently studying in Australia.
I recently travelled to India. The visit strengthened the strategic partnership between our two nations. It also let India know that our country is open for business, and wants to do more business with our friends on the sub-continent.
During the visit I met India’s Prime Minister, Mr Narendra Modi, and India’s President, Mr Shri Pranab Mukherjee. This visit has deepened the friendship between Australia and India.
I send my best wishes for an enjoyable Diwali celebration.