What is expected to be on PM Modi’s Australian agenda

Assuming the Indian Prime Minister’s visit to Australia will continue despite Quad being called off, here’s what we can expect him to do while he’s here

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On Wednesday 17 May, Australian PM Albanese was woken at 4.30 am (Washington time 2.30 pm on Tuesday afternoon) with the US President Joe Biden telling him that he was pulling out of the Quad meet in Sydney on 24 May. The Quad is a diplomatic network of four countries committed to supporting an open, stable and prosperous Indo-Pacific that is inclusive and resilient.

With this phone call, the Prime Minister’s office scrambled to work through the future of the Sydney Quad meeting. Meant to be another highlight in PM Albanese’s foreign policy initiatives, Quad was set to take place exactly 1 year and 1 day after his Labor Party won government. But within hours, PM Albanese announced that the Sydney Quad was off, with the leaders meeting on the sidelines of the G20 in Japan a few days earlier.

The question remained if the Japanese PM Kishida and Indian Prime Minister Modi would still visit Australia.

Later in the day, PM Albanese went on ABC radio to announce that PM Modi’s trip was on. This was no doubt a relief to the IADF, the organisation putting together the community event at the Qudos Bank arena on 23 May at which 18,500 people are expected to attend to hear PM Modi speak.

Anthony Albanese and Narendra Modi
Prime Ministers Albanese and Modi will continue discussions on increased bilateral engagement

As we send this newsletter out, Australian and Indian government officials are scrambling to put together PM Modi’s Australian agenda. It is a moving feast with many moving parts. Through various sources, we understand the bellow activities will take place though no official releases from the Australian Prime Minister‘s media office or the High Commission of India, Canberra or the Indian Consulate have been made :

1. PM Modi will arrive from Papua New Guinea on 23 May. Interesting to note that this will be an Indian Prime Minister‘s first visit to this rather strategic South Pacific Island. Observers believe that this visit has occurred on a specific request from Australian PM Albanese to counter the growing influence of China in this region.

2. During his two-day visit to Australia, Mr Modi will be based in Sydney and will not be travelling to Melbourne or any other city.

3. He is expected to visit the Admiralty House in Kirribilli, where he will be accorded a 21-gun salute.

4. He will meet with PM Albanese and engage in a series of bi-lateral discussions.

5. From a business point of view, a CEO forum with the top executives from ASX listed companies is being planned, largely comprising of the corporate leaders who visited India with PM Albanese in March this year.

6. PM Modi’s Harris Park visit might be off the agenda, but he may unveil a virtual plaque for the Little Indian precinct when he attends the community event at Qudos arena.

7. It is also expected more details of the Centre for Australia India Relations will be released. Till date, only the Chair and CEO – both Sydney-based corporate leaders Swati Dave and Tim Thomas have been announced. A panel of eight advisory members is likely to be revealed, along with the location of CAIR offices, expected to be in Sydney city and Parramatta.

PM Modi greeting the members of the Indian diaspora in Sydney during his 2014 visit (Source: NDTV)

8. The highlight of PM Modi’ visit is expected to be the public forum on the evening of 23 May at Qudos Bank arena in Sydney Olympic Park. While the arena will be filled with the Indian Australian diaspora, expect to see a fair sprinkling of Australian politicians cashing in on PM Modi’s adulation in certain sections of the community. Though not officially confirmed, it is expected that PM Albanese, Minister for Climate Change Chris Bowen, Minister for Education Jason Clare, Parramatta MP Andrew Charlton from the Federal side of politics will be there. From State politics, basking in the glow of the Modi aura will be Premier Chris Minns, Treasurer Daniel Mookhey, and newly elected Parliamentarian Charishma Kaliyanda.

9. PM Modi is expected to leave Australia in the early hours of Wednesday 24 May.

As we prepared this article about the PM Modi’s Australian agenda, we reached out to the media team at the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet at PM Albanese’s office to check that there has been an actual confirmation from India, and either a conversation between PMs Modi and Albanese or a senior level nod post the cancellation of the Quad, ensuring that the Indian PM’s visit is still on under the changed scenario. No direct answer was given; rather, we were referred back to the Indian High Commission.

Read More: “What is it about Modi that attracts enormous crowds when he speaks?”

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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