Dominic Perrottet: India will be one of my first overseas visits if we win

NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet shares his vision for the state, Future Fund, Indian festivals and how he bought a sari for his wife Helen.

Reading Time: 8 minutes

If the polls are to be believed, the NSW elections on 25 March will be a very tight contest. The final result may well hinge on a few seats in Western Sydney and Southwest Sydney, areas where the Indian Australian Community votes can be pivotal.

Here, Premier Dominic Perrottet lays the case out for the Liberal-National Coalition.

(To listen to the interview as it aired on Indian Link Radio, scroll down below).

Pawan Luthra: Premier, being in power for 12 years has both its advantages and disadvantages. Why should the voters elect the Liberal-National Coalition for a fourth term in government?

Dominic Perrottet: Because it’s the Liberals that have the long-term economic plan to keep NSW moving forward. We’ve dealt with so many challenges over the last few years, through droughts and bushfires, floods and a once-in-a-100 year pandemic, and today we stand strong. Also at a time of economic headwinds coming our way, with rising inflation, rising interest rates and cost of living is a real issue for many families across our state. And in order to continue to put downward pressure on family and household budgets, you need the Liberals to be elected for the next term of government. Because we’re the ones with the plan to put downward pressure on household bills, like our $250 Energy Relief Bill for families across NSW.

But we’re also looking to the future, and that’s incredibly important. I recently announced a new ‘kids future fund account’, which will ensure that our young children born and living in NSW are giving the best opportunities in life. That will mean that they will leave school with up to $49,000 in their bank account which they can spend on education or a deposit for their first home.

Dominic Perrottet
(Source: Supplied)

Pawan Luthra: Premier, won’t that work against multicultural communities? Many migrants come here with young families in tow. So this is not something which they can get the benefit from?

Dominic Perrottet: Well, the main focus here is newborn children. We want our grandparents and our parents to contribute and help their children in life. And our great multicultural community here, we want them to continue to prosper. Every mum and dad across NSW wants the best for their children. Once a child is born and for those children today in NSW who are aged 10 years and younger, they’ll be able to access these accounts to set them up for success. It’s a game changer and it really ensures the aspiration for our children – that they can have more opportunities than we do.

Multicultural communities who have moved here and have children eighteen years and under, they will be able to apply for one of these accounts through Service NSW. From next year, every child born in our state will have the opportunity as well. This is all about helping our parents ensure that their children have the best start in life. These are the aspirational policies of the Liberal government.

Pawan Luthra: Premier, you mentioned the cost of living pressures. You’ve spoken about your future fund for children. What other ideas do you have to help alleviate the pressure on families?

Dominic Perrottet: Well because of our strong financial and economic management here in NSW, we’ve been able to provide more support than any state in this country to ease the burden on cost of living for families and households. Our Back-to-school vouchers are helping families with the cost of school uniforms and school shoes. Our Active Kids vouchers help young children play sport for the very first time, and help parents juggle the cost that’s associated with that. Our Creative Kids vouchers are helping children get into music, drama, creative arts. These vouchers – as well as our $250 off every energy bill for households – will really help families deal with the challenges of today. Under Labor, that $250 off your energy bill will not occur.

Pawan Luthra: Premier, casting our eyes on international relationships, in the last few years at the federal level and from both sides of politics there has been an urgency to build a closer relationship with India. Now NSW, as you’ve just said, is a powerhouse economic state, yet its relationship with India is a bit lacklustre. Should you be elected, what would you do to raise the tempo in this relationship?

Dominic Perrottet: Well when I became Premier the first trip that I made was to India. That was my first visit in my life actually – I went to Mumbai and Bengaluru.

Dominic Perrottet
Dominic Perrottet in Western Sydney with Mohit Kumar, Liberal candidate for Riverstone (Source: Twitter)

Pawan Luthra: And what was that experience like?

Dominic Perrottet: I loved it and I’ll be going back. It’s a wonderful country with wonderful people, and the culture was just phenomenal. I know as well that Australian values and aspirations are the same, such as the focus on family, and that’s why I think it’s a great economic opportunity – for both NSW and India. I got a strong understanding and appreciation for India in my previous role as Treasurer of NSW, particularly in relation to education and higher education. That is something we can continue to promote and develop over time.

Pawan Luthra: Premier, I’ll come back to the education issue in a minute. But do we expect to see you going to India within the first year of a re-elected Dominic Perrottet government?

Dominic Perrottet: I will be back. It will be part of my first trip.

Pawan Luthra: I’m sure you’ll try to take a page from Anthony Albanese, in terms of flower petals and private planes and all those exciting things which the Prime Minister’s just experienced.

Dominic Perrottet (laughs): I think he sees there is a natural synergy between NSW, Australia and India. There is a natural synergy in terms of values – firstly family aspirations, and then, economic and cultural ties. So it only makes sense that we continue to grow that trade relationship – now you have a situation where 85% of Australian goods enter into India without any tariffs. I think this connection between the India and Australia is only going to grow and blossom over time.

Pawan Luthra: Except when it comes to cricket?

Dominic Perrottet: Well, I said the other day at a Hindu function that I was at, that my dream is that one day we will end up beating India in the subcontinent. And that will occur when our Australian cricket team, from number one to eleven, are Australian-Indians, when they’ve come through come through the ranks. That’s our best prospect.

Mr Perrottet in his maiden visit to India played cricket with former Australian cricketer Adam Gilchrist and the junior squad of Mumbai Cricket Association, in Mumbai. (Source: Twitter)

Pawan Luthra: It will happen. It may take time. But Premier, just coming back to the education question, I note that Victoria has done much to build a soft power reputation in India. They have invested millions of dollars in programs such as the Melbourne International Indian Film Festival. NSW has not done much. In fact, it has even diluted Parramasala. The results are that Victoria is now the dominant state of choice for Indian international students. They bring in about 53,000, NSW 33,000 – so almost half of the new Indian students are going to Victoria rather than NSW. We seem to be losing here. What will you do to increase the state’s soft power recognition – clearly funding community functions like Diwali and Holi is not fully doing the job?

Dominic Perrottet: A couple of things. I’ve already started work on this. That’s why I’ve established a new trade office in India, because I really want to be as aggressive as other states. For far too long, we’ve rested on our laurels because we’ve just assumed that if people come to Australia, they don’t want to go anywhere else but Sydney and NSW. We need to be making sure we are driving that relationship and not resting on our laurels here in NSW. I want to beat Victoria at absolutely everything, and I want people from India to come to Australia and only come to one place – and that’s our great state. That’s why we’ve invested the $900,000 over four years in terms of celebrating major events as well. I was celebrating Holi just last weekend in Parramatta, and obviously Diwali. What I really like about these events now is that they are just events that people are going to, who don’t have an Indian cultural background. There are actually so many other cultures coming together to celebrate, and that is what creates a really strong and diverse multicultural society. So I believe driving those economic relationships between our state and the great country of India will ensure that those who want to make a new home in Australia will want to be nowhere else.

Pawan Luthra: Premier, before I let you go, a bit about your Indian links. What’s your favourite order at an Indian restaurant?

Dominic Perrottet: Butter chicken. It sounds pretty bland but I love butter chicken. The kids love it too. Because I’ve got seven kids we get six butter chickens.

Pawan Luthra: Ever been invited to former Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s curry nights?

Dominic Perrottet: I haven’t, but I would love to.

Pawan Luthra: Favourite Indian Festival?

Dominic Perrottet: Holi.

Pawan Luthra: Why?

Dominic Perrottet: Holi in Parramatta was just amazing. What I really enjoyed about it was not just the colour and everybody having an amazing time, but seeing so many young children out as well sharing in a festival that promotes this great concept of good over evil. And celebrating goodness and celebrating colour and movement. For me, there’s something very special.


Pawan Luthra: Next year, would you take the children along?

Dominic Perrottet: Definitely, they’ll have a ball. It won’t be in election period so it’ll be calmer on my end and they’ll have so much fun.

Pawan Luthra: Ever seen a Bollywood movie?

Dominic Perrottet: I have. I’ve seen a couple.

Pawan Luthra: Describe it to me – boy meets girl, girl gets away…

Dominic Perrottet: Yeah, there’s a wedding.

Pawan Luthra: And you sat through the whole movie or was it in fast forward mode?

Dominic Perrottet: No, whole movie. My wife Helen actually loves Bollywood movies. Loves them. I brought back a sari for her from India. I think she’s worn it once.

Pawan Luthra: An Indian personality, or a book, that made an impact?

Dominic Perrottet: I read a book about Sachin Tendulkar. He’s got to be one of the greatest cricketers of all time, but what really impressed me was his desire to use his position to improve young people’s lives in India, and that is something truly special. When people give back when they don’t necessarily have to, but they look at inspiring young children to be their very best – that’s something that is incredibly important in making sure that our children can achieve their dreams.

Pawan Luthra: Premier, thank you for that. Finally, any message for the Indian Australian community prior to the polls on 25 March.

Dominic Perrottet: The Liberals have the long-term economic plan to keep NSW moving. Not just through these difficult times that we face today, but also to set up our kids for the future. And as Premier, I’m always focused on making sure we meet the challenges of today. That ultimately we set up our kids with more opportunities and greater prosperity than we had, and that’s what drives me in this job every single day. And that’s what I want to keep doing. That’s why I say to your listeners, today on March 25, vote 1 Liberal.

Pawan Luthra: Thank you for joining us on Indian Link, and all the very best for Saturday.

Dominic Perrottet: Thank you Pawan.

Read More: Mohit Kumar, a local actively working in his community for over 14 years

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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