Bill Shorten, Australia needs investment & jobs

Sydney, 10 February, 2018

We, Indian Australians, have been following various reports coming out of print and digital media, and various television and radio channels relating to the Adani’s projects in Australia. As you would be aware that this has been the largest investment by an Indian company in Australia and has become a signature project strengthening ties between Australia and India. Adani has invested a lot of resources and time on its projects in Australia and continued to progress in-spite of huge resistance coming from anti-coal groups.

The information that we gathered from the publicly available information, they have invested over $3.3 billion in Australia since 2010. We as a community have been closely watching and monitoring the progress of this project and of late are getting very concerned about how a project of this magnitude is being unfairly targeted.

The projects that are being undertaken by Adani is a private investment and we normally do not comment on the positions taken and decisions made by a private company. However, the reports coming out of the media have caused us serious concerns as a community who love the Australian way of life and believe in providing ‘fair-go’ to everyone irrespective of one’s affiliation to a particular community, race, or sexual orientation.

We strongly feel that we are not giving a ‘fair-go’ to Adani, and we have been creating one hurdle after another. Again, based on the publically available information, we understand that Adani’s projects have gone through onerous approvals processes (at federal, state and local levels). These approvals were challenged at various courts of law (including the matters relating to the impact on environment), and after due consideration of all the facts, and based purely on the merit of the projects, decisions were given in favour of the company. Once the company has followed the due process and has adhered to the law of the land in which the projects are being developed, we believe they have full right to proceed with the business. If we raise the same issues that have already been considered during the approval processes and the court processes then we are conveying the message that either we do not wish to follow the verdict of the law or we are ignorant about the process undertaken. In either situation, this impacts negatively the company that is trying hard to develop the project.

We were dismayed with the backflip from Qld Premier, Annastacia Palaszczuk, during last election after supporting Adani Group for years. Crash politics was at play in her decision.

Our dismay is compounded with recent statements from the leader of the Opposition, Mr Bill Shorten, who seems to put his party’s interest before Australia’s interests. Votes of anti-investment Extreme Left groups in Batman seat of Melbourne are more important.

It is becoming very clear that the activists disguised as the protectors of the environment are not only disregarding the law of the land but also, to some extent, undertaking unlawful activities. This is clearly demonstrated by the protests to stop the rail traffic or disturb the operation of the port and creating life threatening situations.

We are also disturbed by the fact that the politicians (especially those with far-left views) are using the project for their political benefit. This is evident from the recent election in Queensland and the upcoming by-election in Batman – governments who have made various comments in media supporting the project in the past are back-flipping at the time of election to capture green votes. The parties may be able to garner few additional seats by using these petty tactics, however, we strongly believe that it undermines the fabric of a “fair go” and the Australian way of life.

In a democratic society, everyone’ voice needs to be heard. It applies to both the sides- activists as well as that of the proponents of the projects. Also, the oppositions should be based on facts and not on some ill-informed views and opinion.

Some important facts are:

– India is one of the lowest emitters of carbon dioxide on a per capita basis

– There are over 300 million Indians that do not have access to power

– The project is intended to provide electricity to thousands of villages in India

– Will generate significant jobs in Australia

India has been one of the fastest growing economies of the world. India with its huge middle-class population, in need of improving the standard of living of its masses through provision of luxuries of life, which we as Australians take for granted, is on the cusp of becoming one of the largest economies of the world. Australia is very well placed to benefit from the growth of India. The success of Adani project will provide a very positive message to the Indian investors who are looking to invest in a stable and investor friendly country. The trade between India and Australia will suffer a massive blow if we let our petty politics to jeopardize investor sentiment.

Adani Fact Sheet:

Adani has been building a long-term future with Queensland and Australia

Adani’s presence in Australia

• Adani commenced its journey in Queensland, Australia more than 7 years ago when it acquired mining tenement in August 2010 and have its presence in following business:-

• Adani Australia is developing the “Carmichael Coal Mine” project which will be the first mine in the Galilee Basin, Central Queensland.

• Adani Australia is developing multi user, open access 388 km Rail linking the mine to Abbot Point Terminal

• Adani Australia owns and operates existing Abbot Point Port Terminal.

• Adani Australia is progressing 2 solar projects located at Rugby Run, Queensland and Whyalla in South Australia

• Over $3.3 billion has been spent to date on the projects. It is the largest Indian Investment to date

• Adani Australia currently employs more than 800 people across all our operations.

Environment & Approvals Journey

• The Carmichael Coal Project has been granted approvals under 7 different Commonwealth and Queensland Acts.

• Adani has obtained 112 approvals and permits from both State and Federal government

• There are over 1,800 strict conditions across these permits and approvals.

• Adani had ZERO land holder objection to the Carmichael Coal Mine under the Environmental Protection Act 1994 or Mineral Resources Act 1989.

• Their approvals have been tested in the courts and Adani has won ALL the court cases to reach this stage

• All the litigations were filed by anti-coal NGOs to delay and disrupt the development.

• Adani has all the agreements (ILUA) in place with all 4 Traditional Owners. Only a minority of one group (W&J) has challenged the agreement which has been funded by foreign NGOs through back channels.

• In Summary, Adani has been subject to rigorous and at times multiple approval processes over nearly 8 years at both State and Federal level that have been tested and upheld in the courts resulting in net delay of approximately 3 years

Benefits of Project

• Adani Australia will create more than 10000 direct and indirect jobs at full capacity of mine

• Over $22 Billion in the form of Royalties and taxes which shall be reinvested by government into community

• The Coal from Carmichael project will replace the poorer quality of domestic coal burn in India and will reduce the associated carbon emission

• This project is intended to provide energy security to those in the 18000 villages in India that have no access to electricity and thus lifting millions of Indians out of energy poverty

• Will build a strong economic relationship between Australia and India

Important links:

https://t.co/46a86ELGGY

https://t.co/kG4N3H4FMo

https://t.co/jG8Amy1uiy

https://t.co/v2kvEhzpPr

As concerned people, we appeal to both sides of politics to provide confidence to the investors in Australia by providing unequivocal support for the Adani project who have spent years to obtain approvals from the government and through the court processes.

We as Australians should certainly provide assurance to the investors that Australia is open for business and would assist anyone who follows the law of the land with full support and protection for it to grow and at the same time benefit all Australians.

Finally, ALP and Bill Shorten should listen to people, Mayors and Union leaders operating in regional Queensland, who are supporting this investment, instead of listening to anti-investment extreme Left activists and groups. Bill Shorten and ALP should give a “Fair Go” to Adani Australia, and not backflip this late in piece after saying YES for years.

There are formal processes to go through for any development. If Adani Australia complies with all those conditions they have any right to go ahead with the development. One should be challenging the process that gives the approval, not the applicant.

Dr Yadu Singh

http://www.twitter.com/dryadusingh

http://www.facebook.com/DoctorYaduSingh

Australia appoints Ms Harinder Sidhu as its high commissioner to India

Sydney, NSW

11th Feb, 2016

Australian Foreign Minister, Julie Bishop, announced the appointment of Ms Harinder Sidhu as Australia’s new High Commissioner to India on 11th February, 2016.

Mr Peter Varghese, who too has Indian heritage, held this position in 2009 to 2012, before taking up the position of Secretary, Department of Foreign Affairs in Canberra. There is a mini, and pleasant, trend in the Western world to appoint their nationals of Indian heritage in positions in, or related to, India. Ambassador Rich Rahul Verma is currently the United States of America’s Ambassador to India.

Ms Sidhu is of Indian heritage. In an interview, she disclosed that her family from both sides are of Indian background. Her father was born in Punjab, India. She was born in Singapore and migrated with her parents when she was a child. She has degrees in Commerce and Law from Sydney University.

Ms Sidhu was the head of Multilateral Policy division of Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) until recently, and had previously held senior positions in Climate Change Department, Office of National Assessment (ONA) and Department of Prime Minister & Cabinet. He has held diplomatic positions in Moscow and Damascus previously.

This appointment is significant in multiple ways.

  • With her Climate Change expertise, she will be of immense help in fostering deeper relations including trade between Australia & India in the field of renewable energy sector. India’s Minister for Energy and Renewable Energy was In Australia until 11th Feb looking at Australian Renewable Energy sector and exploring the possibilities for mutual co-operation,
  • With her background in Climate Change, her posting in New Delhi takes an additional significance because India is key to achieving Carbon reduction commitments, set in Paris Climate Change Conference last year
India-Australia bilateral trade is worth more than $20 million AUD and there are approx. 450,000 people of Indian heritage in Australia, with numbers to grow further due to the fact that Indians are number one component of Australia’s migration intake. Trade between Australia and India is likely to grow due to India’s energy needs and India’s “Make in India” policy. Only a few days ago, 6 Metro Coaches were shipped from India to Australia, with remaining coaches out of the total 450 coming in due course.
India is the 10th largest trading partner of Australia, with whom Australia has increasingly strong economic and defence relationships. India is an important nation in Indo-Pacific region and is the fastest growing economy in the world.
It would not be out of place to mention that Ms Harinder Kaur’s appojntment is 3rd high profile appointment of women under the leadership of Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull and Foreign Affairs Minister, Julie Bishop.  Jan Adams was appointed as Australia’s Ambassador to China and Frances Adamson was appointed as the Forign Affairs advisor to Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull recently.
India and Australia are working on a Free Trade Agreement (FTA). It is hoped that the process will be accelerated and FTA will be signed into a Treaty by the end of 2016.
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Dr Yadu Singh

Indian Australians as part of “Team Australia”!

Sydney, Thursday, 2014

Australian ParliamentPrime Minister, Tony Abbott, has rightly said recently that there is no point to migrate if people are not willing to put Australia, its interests, its values and its people first! Indian Parliament

He further said ‘You don’t migrate to this country unless you want to join our team, calling it “Team Australia”. He praised migrants for choosing to migrate to Australia, and exhorted them (migrants) to be proud of their heritage and culture.

I agree with him. I do not believe there would be many sensible people who will disagree with him.

Australia is a successful multicultural nation, just like The United States of America. Australia is our home, and we are very proud of Australia.

There is one little difference between Australia and USA, which has become quite important lately.

During 2009, when Indian students issues in Australia had saturation coverage in India, and India-Australia relations suffered, the then Federal Govt in Canberra did not deal with the issues in the most efficient way. Indian media calling Australia a racist country was not tackled properly and promptly. Australia depended solely on its diplomats to tackle it, instead of also utilising the Indian Australian community to help the Govt in dealing with it. It was well known that most of Indian Australian community did not share the views of Indian media. My friends and I made it very clear to Indian Govt and Indian media that we did not agree with their description of Australia as a racist nation. I took part in a debate “Ïs Australia a racist country?” with Daily Telegraph journalist, David Penberthy, televised in Sunrise programme of Channel 7, and wrote a Blog post “who is racist-Australia or Indian media?” https://yadusingh.wordpress.com/2010/01/10/who-is-racist-australia-or-indian-media/  Both were quite popular.

Many believe that The Rudd Govt officials should have utilized Indian Australian community prominently in dealing with exaggerated and imbalanced reporting against Australia in Indian media. They believe that things would have been easier to deal with if Indian Australians were also part of Australian Govt’s strategy to deal with it. After all, it would have been much more easier and effective if Indian media had dealt with Indian Australians here in Australia as well as in India, and heard that their description of Australia was not entirely correct.

Thankfully, things have moved on and relations between Australia and India are on the upswing. Australia and India have just concluded Uranium trade deal negotiations, and an agreement in this regard is likely to be signed when Prime Minister Tony Abbott visits New Delhi early next month.

Australia does have some people from Indian heritage in its diplomatic staff, but they are very small in numbers. Australia has not utilized the Indian Australian community in its outreach to India generally, even when this community is getting bigger by the day. Approx 500,000 people in Australia have Indian heritage. Former NSW Premier, Barry O’Farrell, used to rely on just one person of Indian heritage, who is his personal friend, but unfortunately did not have much to do with either India or Indian Australian community. Mr O’Farrell could have done better and taken a leaf from his counterparts from Victoria, who did, and do, include members of Victorian Indian Australian community whenever they go to India with Trade delegations. New NSW Premier, Mike Baird, has not been to India yet. Let us see, and in fact hope, whether he will be different from his predecessor in this regard.

If you compare all this with what USA is doing with similar visits to India currently, you will see that Indian Americans form prominent parts of such delegations.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/For-India-outreach-US-brings-into-play-Indian-Americans/articleshow/39785133.cms

Nisha Desai Biswal, Arun Kumar and Puneet Talwar, who are all Assistant Secretaries and are of Indian heritage, accompanied US Secretary of State, John Kerry, Commerce Secretary, Penny Pritzker and Defence Secretary, Chuck Hagel respectively during their recent visits to India. Their presence certainly created quite a good amount of goodwill  and conducive atmosphere.

United States’ Presidential delegations to India have always included prominent Indian American businessmen and community leaders. This has not been the case with Australian delegations of similar nature.

It’s about time that Australian Govt leaders follow the examples set by their American counterparts, because not only it is a smart policy, but  it is lalso likely to accelerate the growth of Australia-India relations.

In addition, and as a bonus, it is also going to create a feeling that Indian Australian community is a vital part of “Team Australia”, with many potential electoral benefits to the ruling party in the area like Western suburbs of Sydney and elsewhere! 

Dr Yadu Singh

dryadusingh@gmail.com

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WESTPAC Bicentennial Foundation with a $100 million fund is a great initiative!

 

ImageI was very pleased, and felt privileged, to be a part of the launch of a great initiative, Westpac Bicentennial Foundation recently.

I was invited as the one representing Indian Australian community.

Mr Lindsay Maxsted (Westpac Group Chairman), Mrs Gail Kelly (Chief Executive Officer), and the Hon. Julie Bishop MP (Minister for Foreign Affairs) launched WESTPAC Bicentennial Foundation on 2nd April, 2014.

 

ImageThe announcement was made during a high profile Luncheon at Hyde Park Barracks, in which close to 400 people from Sydney’s “who is who”, including Malcolm Turnbull (Federal Telecommunication Minister) and Barry O’Farrell (Premier of NSW) were present.

 

This Foundation is a part of Westpac’s upcoming 200th anniversary year in 2017, and is the single largest private education scholarship program in Australia’s history, and will have an exclusive focus on the education and advancement of Australians.

                                                                                                  

I was not surprised to hear about Westpac’s already very impressive list of benevolent and charity activities, and contributions to our communities.  In 2013, their community contributions totalled $131 million.  This is in addition to The Family of Giving, which encompasses their four existing charitable funds of Westpac Foundation, St George Foundation, Bank of Melbourne Neighbourhood Fund and BankSA & Staff Charitable Fund, which last year distributed more than $4.1 million in grants to support charities and social enterprises. Today’s announcement further builds on their community outreach and support, and will help build Australia’s future leadership capabilities.

 

 

Details of the Scholarships

 

Scholarships and awards will be granted by the Foundation in partnership with Australian universities.  Currently planned scholarships and awards programs are:

 

  • Future Leaders scholarships will be awarded to new or recent graduates for post-graduate study at a prestigious global institution, with preference given to Australia’s relationship with Asia and Technology & Innovation.

              

  • Best and Brightest program will provide awards to post-doctoral researchers in Australia’s leading research universities, with focus of helping strengthen Australia’s ties with Asian economies

 

  • The Young Technologists program will offer 30 to 40 three-year undergraduate scholarships each year, awarded for merit, to encourage diversity.

     

  • Asian Exchange scholarships will provide the opportunity for Australian undergraduate students to spend a semester at a leading Asian University, with a focus on increasing the number of Asia-literate graduates in Australia.

     

  • The Community Leaders program will provide 10 awards annually to community leaders to undertake a personal educational opportunity that will have a direct value to their community.

 

The programs will be developed progressively and are expected to be fully operational by 2017.

Image

I was particularly happy to see that scholarships will be available to Australian students to do a semester in one of the leading Universities of Asia, which will increase the numbers of Asia-literate students in Australia. This is very important because we’re in an Asian Century, and many of our major trading partners are from Asia.

The new Foundation will ensure Private Sector continues to play an important part in shaping Australia’s future and economic prosperity.

 

With this great initiative from Westpac, I am hopeful that other major Private Institutions in Australia will come forward with their initiatives in this arena.

Dr Yadu Singh/Sydney/7th April, 2014

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Australian Uranium to India:Why Australia should sell it to India?

Last year, the then PM, Kevin Rudd and several ministers including the then Deputy Prime Minister, Julia Gillard visited India. India is an important country for Australia on multiple counts. It is a rising global power which is also an important trading partner of Australia. Indian students’ issues aside, both countries enjoy friendly relations with one another. 

We, Indian Australians, have a keen interest in seeing good relations between these two countries.

Both countries must consider the interests of one another while doing business with one another. There are too many things which bind us together. These are our democracies, rule of law, multi-cultural societies, love of Cricket and memberships of the Commonwealth to name a few.

Previous Australian Gov led by PM John Howard did many things to move Australia and India closer. He declared that he would sell Uranium to India as India had impeccable records of nuclear non-proliferation. Other important step in this direction was a decision to initiate a quadrilateral strategic dialogue involving USA, Australia, India and Japan. Yet another was the naval exercises called Malabar exercises involving  Navies from India, USA, Australia, Japan and Singapore. After winning the Gov in 2007, Kevin Rudd led ALP Gov reversed the decision to sell Uranium to India and other steps too became non-operative from one or the other reason. Unhappy with Australia’s policies, India did not participate in Kakadu Naval exercises where even Pakistani Navy showed up.  Basically, Australia-India relations have moved backward since 2007. They moved back a few degrees more after the students’ issues last year. A serious work is required to rectify this situation.

Indian economy is growing and will keep growing for years to come. GFC [Global Financial Crisis] did not affect India as much as it did others. India is on a roll. The only thing which holds India down is the fact that it has a problem in regards to its energy supply. It needs more and more energy for its growth. It  needs as much energy as it can get its hands on. Indian economy’s growth is essential not only for India but it is also essential for the health of the world economy.

India has been exploring all sources of energy supply as its local supply is far shorter than what it needs. India has to import petroleum from the Arab countries and is debating about the gas supply from Iran. Iranian Gas is however problematic as it has to transit via Pakistani territory which is a problem in itself. Pakistani Govt authorities will never be able to guarantee a secure transit due to its weakness and the presence of the “non-state actors” there who are anti-India. In addition, India cannot rule out a war between India and Pakistan which will create problems in the transit of the gas.

India is therefore forced to explore the option of atomic energy. It has no choice. Thanks to the leadership of The Prime Minister, Mr ManMohan Singh and the then US President, Mr George Bush, India has an India-specific NSG [Nuclear Suppliers’ Group] exemption in 2009 which enabled it  to have bilateral nuclear energy deals with USA, Russia, France, Canada and some more countries. India needs a similar deal with Australia which will allow the Uranium sale to India. Australia has about 40% of world Uranium and sells it to China. NPT should not be an obstacle for Australia to sell Uranium to India after the NSG’s India specific exemption and with India’s impeccable record in nuclear non-proliferation. NSG exemption was a testimony to the fact that India has been a responsible country and has never been involved in nuclear proliferation, unlike others in our neighbourhood. Australia supported this exemption. NSG exemption permits nuclear trade by India without signing NPT.

We should remind ourselves about what the former Australian PM, Mr John Howard had said about such sale. He said that it would not be fair to sell Uranium to China and deny that to India. PM Howard was dead right.

When Kevin Rudd’s ALP Gov reversed Mr Howard’s decision, India was upset and disappointed. Indian Australians were upset too. People felt that it was an unfair decision. India had a difficulty to understand the logic behind this decision once India was given NSG exemption with an active support from Australia.  NPT issue is not relevant at all in regards to India as India has impeccable records in these matters. ALP’s policy, insisting on NPT signature by India, is wrong and ill-considered. Australian Foreign Minister Mr Stephen Smith’s press conference in New Delhi is worth going through. It is available through DFAT website. India has never been involved in nuclear proliferation unlike Pakistan and China. China is a NPT signatory but its record in these matters is not that great. Everybody knows the nexus between China and Pakistan. We should not forget how North Korea got its atomic bombs. Pakistan would not have supplied anything to North Korea without the consent of China. Manuals in Chinese language were found even in Lybia which tried to buy things from disgraced proliferators like AQ Khan of Pakistan.

Simply put, it makes no sense for Australian Uranium going to China but not to India. In fact, there is more justification for Uranium sale to India. It will be pragmatic and a smart move if ALP drops its objection to selling Uranium to a non-NPT signatory country like India because India has fault-free records in proliferation matters and this fact has been recognised by the world with the India specific NSG waiver.  ALP decision to not sell Uranium to India has been considered unfriendly by many quarters in India and Indian Australian community. It is a big stumbling block in good Australia-India relations.

I have urged the Australian PM and ALP to give India a “fair go” through emails and my Blog. I argued that it was what was expected from a friendly country. It is not fair to bind Australia with the NPT dogma and not see the whole issue in a realistic way. A friend has to see the problems of  his/her friends properly. Australia is a friend of India. It showed it by supporting the NSG exemption for India in Vienna last year. It shows it by supporting a permanent position for India in UNSC. It is about time that we see it once again by seeing Uranium trade between Australia and India. As we understand, it [ALP] would not have any political fallout from its decision to sell Uranium to India because the Coalition is already in favour of doing so. It should not be a problem to amend Atomic energy Act either, giving an India-specific exemption for Australian Uranium sale to India. I remain doubtful though whether ALP and specifically ALP Left will change its objection in this regard.

I urge my Australian Indian friends to lobby with their local MPs on this matter. We need to pool our energies in persuading the Australian Gov to sell Uranium to India.

Like Lowy Institute’s Rory Medcalf [Ex Australian High Commissioner to New delhi], I and thousands of my friends in Australia do believe strongly that Australia should sell Uranium to India. We find this refusal to sell Uranium to India  unfair and illogical. India needs new and cleaner sources of energy  and nuclear energy is at the top of its list. Nuclear energy will not only help India but it will help the whole world as it will reduce pollution and carbon emission.

A time has come when Australia sees the issues properly and does the right thing. That right thing is to sell Uranium to India.

PM Julia Gillard, if elected on 21st Aug, will get an opportunity to change this illogical policy and sell Uranium to India but will she do it is yet to be seen.

Tony Abbott, if he gets the mandate on 21st Aug, and his team including Julie Bishop, Joe Hockey and Andrew Robb have already reconfirmed their resolve to sell Uranium to India.

We want some significant movement for more meaningful and better Australia- India relations.

The question in our minds is whether ALP will do the right thing or whether it would be the coalition which will do it!

Dr Yadu Singh/Sydney/09-11-09 

singhyadu@gmail.com

www.twitter.com/dryadusingh