Transcript of the Prime Minister Hon. Tony Abbott doorstop interview, Mumbai, India

 

 tony abbott and sachin tendulkar

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Brett Lee, Prime Minister Tony Abbott, Sachin Tendulkar and Adam Gilchrist, at the Cricket Club of India in Mumbai.

abbott 3 - 040914_Andrew Robb-Mumbai_258small

 

 

 

Australian Minister for Trade and Investment The Hon. Andrew Robb lights a ceremonial candle during his visit with Prime Minister Tony Abbott to Mumbai University to launch the New Colombo Plan promoting Australia India student mobility. The senior Australian Government officials were in India to meet with Indian business figures and to promote investment opportunities between Australia and India

In a doorstop interview by Prime Minister Tony Abbott who is in India and about to sign the uranium deal when asked a question by a journalist that uranium may be used for nuclear weapons,  Mr Abbott answered, “These are the commitments that we’ve got from the Indian Government, and India has an absolutely impeccable non-proliferation record – an absolutely impeccable non-proliferation record – and India has been a model international citizen. India threatens no one. India is the friend to many. India is the world’s emerging democratic superpower, and this is an important sign of the mutual trust that exists between Australia and India.”

PM Abbott talked about FTA with India, Adani’s coalmine in Australia and how Australia can provide energy to India with its large reserves of uranium and coal.

 

Here is the transcript of the full doorstop interview:

Subjects: Visit to India; uranium; ISIL; trade; Ukraine.

 

PRIME MINISTER:

Thirty-three years ago, I was here in Mumbai as a student backpacker. It’s a thrill and honour to be back here as Prime Minister of Australia.

It’s great to be here at the Cricket Club of India, one of the hallowed grounds of this country, a place where so many Australians and Indians have done battle; a place where so many friendships between Australians and Indians have been forged.

It was also good today to be talking to Australian and Indian business leaders about the relationship between our two countries. We have been strategic partners for some time. The Strategic Partnership Agreement was signed when Prime Minister Rudd visited India in 2009. What I hope to do on this trip is deepen the strategic partnership and the economic partnership.

This is already an important economic relationship. I want it to be far more important in the years and decades to come. We haven’t invested enough time and effort in this particular relationship when it comes to trade and investment. We do need to invest more time and effort into the trade and investment relationship with India. If we do put the same amount of time and effort into this one that we’ve put into some of our other relationships, there’s no reason why the economic relationship with India in the years to come cannot resemble the economic relationship that we’ve already got with the major countries of North Asia.

So, it is good to be here on day one of this visit.

I feel particularly privileged to be the first state visitor in the prime ministership of Narendra Modi. I am very much looking forward to meeting him and other senior members of the Indian Government in New Delhi tomorrow.

QUESTION:

Prime Minister, the deal that you’re likely to sign tomorrow with Prime Minister Modi about uranium exports, how can you guarantee that that uranium won’t be used in Indian nuclear weapons or be used to quarantine Indian domestic supplies of uranium for nuclear weapons?

PRIME MINISTER:

These are the commitments that we’ve got from the Indian Government, and India has an absolutely impeccable non-proliferation record – an absolutely impeccable non-proliferation record – and India has been a model international citizen. India threatens no one. India is the friend to many. India is the world’s emerging democratic superpower, and this is an important sign of the mutual trust that exists between Australia and India.

QUESTION:

Mr Abbott, will you be discussing Ukraine and Iraq with Mr Modi, and what can Australia bring to NATO in terms of cooperation?

 

PRIME MINISTER:

Sid, I’d be surprised if various international situations didn’t come up in those discussions. I don’t expect them to be the focus of discussions, but I’d be surprised if they didn’t come up. As you all know – because I’ve been speaking about it for some weeks now – Australia is deeply concerned about the deteriorating humanitarian and security situation in Northern Iraq. We have been involved in humanitarian airdrops. We are involved in airlift, including the airlift of military equipment to the forces of the Kurdish Regional Government, but we are doing this in partnership with many other countries. The last humanitarian airdrop we did involved American, British, and French aircraft. The airlift into Erbil involves aircraft from the United States, Britain, France, Canada, and Italy. So, we are simply doing what we can as a good international citizen to try to keep people safe.

QUESTION:

Prime Minister, you’ve had a general request – as I understand it – from the United States regarding involvement in some sort of action in Northern Iraq. Has there been any development on that general request; any further refinement of that request?

PRIME MINISTER:

No there hasn’t, Mark. We have received a general request as I’ve been making clear for some time. It’s a request that’s gone out to a number of the US partner countries. When and if it becomes more specific, then it will be given more consideration, but we have made no decision and we have had no specific request. Like so many other countries in the Middle East and elsewhere, we are horrified at the developments in Northern Iraq and in other parts of the Middle East. Who could not be revolted by this hideous death cult, this absolutely hideous death cult, which has shown time and time again medieval savagery allied to sophisticated, modern public relations techniques? So, we will do what we can in conjunction with our partners and allies, but whatever we do in respect of this particular hideous movement – a movement which is reaching out to us, a movement which involves some 150 Australians, one way or another – will have an essentially humanitarian purpose.

QUESTION:

Just on the uranium – will you be publishing the details of the safeguards that you’ve signed with India or is it a matter of trusting and taking their word that they won’t then use their own domestic supply for weapons?

PRIME MINISTER:

Look, these documents will be published. They will go before the Treaties committee of the Parliament because that’s the way we do these things. We have a process – a standard process – for these kinds of international agreements and we will follow the standard time-honoured process. I should point out that the agreement to be prepared to sell uranium to India was instituted by the Howard Government. It was rescinded by the Rudd Government. To her credit, Prime Minister Gillard renewed the agreement, and it’s now coming to fruition under this Government. But, as I say, it will all be done in the usual way. There will be nothing secret about it and, again, I stress, India has an absolutely impeccable record when it comes to nuclear non-proliferation and it is a sign of the trust that exists between Australia and India.

QUESTION:

Prime Minister, how realistic are the chances of a free trade agreement with India?

PRIME MINISTER:

That’s a good question, Jason. Look, negotiations have been spluttering on for a couple of years. Not a great deal of progress has been made, but this was true of just about all the free trade negotiations under the former government. The former government was in favour of free trade agreements in principle, but in practice it always had too many other competing agendas to get cracking with them. So, we are serious about free trade. At the moment, our priority is the free trade agreement with China, but there is an abundance of potential in the economic relationship between Australia and India, and once the China agreement is finalised – should that be finalised – obviously, we’ll be turning our attention to this one.

QUESTION:

On uranium just again, once this treaty is signed is there still a long way to go and how soon would we actually see sales and, I suppose, economic value being kicked back into the Australian economy?

PRIME MINISTER:

That’s a very fair point. This agreement is an agreement to agree, as it were. It’s an agreement that we can then go ahead and negotiate actual sales. Whether it takes a year, two years, that’s really a matter for the market to determine. India has a strong nuclear energy programme. Australia has very large reserves on uranium. I do want Australia to be an energy superpower in the years ahead. We have large reserves of uranium. We have massive reserves of coal. We have extensive reserves of gas. We are the world’s second largest thermal coal exporter. We will soon be the world’s largest LNG exporter and every time we export our energy to the world, we boost our standard of living and we boost the world’s standard of living. So, this is doing good for us and doing good for the countries that we export to. If you take the Adani mine – which is going to be the largest coal mine ever in Australia should it go ahead next year, as we all hope – that will power the lives of 100 million Indians. It’s one of the minor miracles of our time: that Australian coal could improve the lives of 100 million Indians, and it just goes to show what good that freer trade can do for the whole world.

QUESTION:

Mr Abbott, just on China. You’ve been very careful in your language today on China. If Australia gets closer to India and Japan, as you say, can you get new friends without getting further away from your old friends?

PRIME MINISTER:

Look, it’s possible to have more than one friend or more than two friends, and the great thing about Australia is that around the world we have many friends and few critics, because we are a country that is full of goodwill to others. We stand by our friends, we uphold our values, we protect our citizens, we advance our interests, but we advance our interests in ways which acknowledge that we have got to look after the other person, too.

I like to think that our foreign policy, our economic diplomacy as well, operates in accordance with that golden rule: do unto others as you would have them do unto you. If you do deals which are good for you but good for the other person as well, then you’ll have a lot of friends and that’s how we try to act.

QUESTION:

Prime Minister, you say that India has a good track record when it comes to nuclear non-proliferation, which it does, but it doesn’t have a good track record when it comes to managing its civilian nuclear power industry. How can you be sure that Australian uranium will be going to well-regulated and properly-run, safe power stations?

PRIME MINISTER:

It’s not our job to try to tell India how to conduct its internal affairs. Our job is to try to ensure that we act in accordance with our own standards of decency, and that’s what we intend to do. But, one of the things that everyone who’s dealt with India knows, is that their standards are improving all the time. Their standards are improving all the time. I am here in a country transformed over three decades, talking to Brett Lee and Adam Gilchrist; people who have been coming to India very regularly over the last two decades. They say every year they come here, the place is a little bit better. All of India’s standards are going up all the time and that’s good for them and it will be good for us as well.

QUESTION:

Prime Minister, just on the civil and military capacity building that you’ve committed to assist in the Ukraine, can you just detail what exactly that means and requires? Does that mean ADF personnel will be on the ground there and is it a little too much to get involved in that conflict there as well?

PRIME MINISTER:

No one’s talking about that. What we’re doing is opening an embassy in Kiev as a sign of our friendship and support for Ukraine at a difficult time, but about the most pacific way to show friendship is to open an embassy and that’s exactly what we’re doing. Now, a large number of countries on both sides of the Atlantic are providing civil and non-lethal military support to Ukraine – blankets, warm clothing, boots, that kind of thing – that’s the sort of thing that Australia is talking to our partners and allies about participating in.

Short URL: https://indiandownunder.com.au/?p=3835

Posted by on Sep 5 2014. Filed under Australian News, Community, Featured. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

Comments are closed

Search Archive

Search by Date
Search by Category
Search with Google