Federal Budget 2022: $115.7 million for India Australia ties

This includes a $42 million allocation for a new centre announced in April.

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Australia’s intent to work more closely with India is evident in the funding allocated to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) to strengthen economic and strategic ties. The Government has provided $115.7 million to DFAT in its budget handed down yesterday 25 Oct, to invest in public sector linkages, community engagement, education, resources, connectivity, low emissions technology, business literacy, science, and technology cooperation with India.

The new Centre for Australia-India Relations (CAIR) has been allocated $42 million by the Albanese government. CAIR has been flagged as an important part of the Economic Cooperation and Trade Agreement (ECTA) which was signed in April 2022.  CAIR’s mandate is to increase India literacy among Australian businesses and build on the contributions of Australia’s growing Indian-origin community.

Welcoming the allocation of these funds, Australia India Business Council (AIBC) National Chair Jodi McKay acknowledged that the Centre would become a key institution in deepening the dialogue between the two countries and working closely with business and industry to explore and capture the emerging opportunities in India Australia trade. She however urged the government to build on the people-to-people links between the two countries.

Australia India Business Council (AIBC) National Chair Jodi McKay, Source: Facebook

“The Centre’s focus on promoting policy dialogue and strengthening industry and business links is important, but so too is engaging Australia’s rapidly growing Indian diaspora,” Ms McKay noted. “The AIBC has long championed business-to-business links, but also believes there must be greater emphasis on the growing India diaspora and its connection to India. The Centre will provide a focus on Australia’s Indian diaspora as a “living bridge” between the two countries, which until now has been missing from Australia’s strategic approach to India.”

AIBC is keen to have the CAIR established in Western Sydney, which is a growing hub of the Indian diaspora. This may well balance the Melbourne-based Australia India Institute, a leading centre founded in 2008 dedicated to enhancing Australia-India relations.

While the Victorian government has been actively engaged with the Indian diaspora in its state through funding initiatives such as Indian Film Festival of Melbourne, similar state initiatives in NSW have been lacking. Though Parramasala was one such state venture, this has over the years sadly lost its impact amongst the diaspora. A Centre for Australia India centre can well energise the links with the diaspora in the state.

AIBC’s NSW President Irfan Malik also said, “Establishing the Centre in Parramatta, which is a thriving commercial hub, makes sense from a business perspective. It also sends a message to the Indian-Australian community that the Federal Government understands their importance in advancing the business and cultural ties between India and Australia.”

Among other India-related announcements, the Budget provides $6.1m for a South Asian aged care centre, and puts $3.5m towards improving the streetscape of the Little India precinct in Harris Park NSW, both promised by Andrew Charlton, MP for Parramatta.

As well, the permanent Migration Program will be expanded to 195,000 in 2022–23. This is an increase of 35,000. More than 90 per cent of new places will be for skilled migrants, and more than a quarter targeted to regional areas.

Significantly for our community, an additional funding of $42.2 million has been announced to address skills shortages more quickly. These funds will go towards accelerating visa processing, reducing the visa backlog, and raising awareness of opportunities for high‑skilled migrants in Australia’s permanent Migration Program.

Student and secondary training visa holders will have their work restrictions relaxed until 30 June 2023. This will allow them to work additional hours in any sector, helping to address workforce shortages.

READ ALSO: India-Australia alliance continues to strengthen

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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