Australia’s new High Commissioner to India named

There’s been much interest to see who will succeed Barry O’Farrell as Australia’s man in India, given the recent uptick in ties

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The Australian Financial Review this week identified Australia’s serving ambassador to Germany Philip Green as our next High Commissioner to India when Barry O’Farrell’s term comes to an end later this year. Though this is not confirmed by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, multiple official sources have liked the tweet which went out with this article.

Green’s appointment, should it come to pass, will add significantly to the strengthening of the relationship between the two countries. He is regarded as an expert on Indo-Pacific affairs, an area which is becoming a common intersecting point between India and Australia, to counter China’s geopolitical push in this region.

Prior to his appointment as ambassador to Germany in 2020, Green led Australia’s Indo-Pacific Strategy in 2018-19. In a speech at a global forum while Ambassador in Germany, Green said, “The Indo-Pacific is now the epicentre of renewed strategic competition, with the risks of miscalculation and conflict growing. We are witnessing significant shifts in the balance of power. Rules, norms, and institutions are under increasing pressure. Tensions over territorial claims are escalating. Cyber-attacks are becoming more frequent and sophisticated. Disinformation and foreign interference are being used to manipulate societies. Protectionism and economic coercion are on the rise.”

India’s interest in the Indo-Pacific is evident with even PM Modi scheduled to visit Fiji after his Quad meeting in Sydney with PM Albanese, Japan’s PM Kishida and US President Biden on 23-24 May this year.

It is understood that Barry O’Farrell pipped Philip Green to the post of India’s High Commissioner when under PM Scott Morrison, the then Foreign Minister Marise Payne appointed him. It was a baptism of fire for the new High Commissioner O’Farrell as he flew into India in 2021 – COVID-19 was spreading globally and normal travels between the countries had come to an abrupt halt.

High Commissioner Barry O'Farrell at Delhi airport, 2020
High Commissioner Barry O’Farrell overseeing repatriation arrangements at Delhi airport for citizens stranded in India following COVID lockdowns (Image: Zlatko Varenina)

However, under his tenure, India and Australia signed their trademark Economic Comprehensive Cooperation and Trade Agreement (ECTA). The Quad relationship between the two countries has also taken a new urgency to foster closer defence ties.

Barry O’Farrell, a former politician, was parachuted into a high-profile diplomatic role where he performed admirably in an eventful and successful tenure. In contrast, Philip Green is a seasoned diplomat, having previously been head of mission in Johannesburg, Nairobi and Singapore. He is said to be close to former PM and now Australia’s ambassador to the United States Kevin Rudd, having served as International Advisor and Chief of Staff to him.

With Philip Green’s new posting as Australia’s High Commissioner to India, it seems the emphasis in the bilateral relationship in evolving from the three Cs (cricket, coal and curry) to the three Ds – defence, diplomacy, and O’Farrell’s favourite Hindi word, dosti – will continue.

Pawan Luthra
Pawan Luthra
Pawan is the publisher of Indian Link and is one of Indian Link's founders. He writes the Editorial section.

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