Citizenship Audit for All Members of the Parliament should be done 

Sydney, 4 Nov, 2017 

Initially, it was “Citizenship Seven”, about which the High Court of Australia gave its verdict on Friday, 27 October, 2917. 


Section 44 of Australian Constitution debars  dual-citizens from becoming members of Australian Parliament (The Senate and the House of Representatives).

Barnaby Joyce (The National Party member and Deputy Prime Minister), Fiona Nash (The National), Malcolm Roberts (One Nation), Larissa Waters (The Greens) and Scott Ludlam (The Greens) were declared ineligible to sit in the Parliament. Matt Canavan (the Liberal National Party) and Nick Xenophon (The Nick Xenophon Team) were declared eligible to be in the Parliament. Even before the judgment, The Green senators had already resigned and Nick Xenophon had declared his intention to quit the Senate to focus in South Australian politics. 

http://mobile.abc.net.au/news/2017-10-27/how-did-the-high-court-rule-on-each-of-the-citizenship-cases/9094676

Subsequently, Stephen Parry (President of the Senate) declared himself to be a dual-citizen and resigned from the Senate. 

http://mobile.abc.net.au/news/2017-11-01/stephen-parry-confirms-he-is-a-british-citizen/9106558?pfmredir=sm

Now, there is a controversy about Josh Frydenberg (a senior Ministet in the Coalition Government) whether he is a dual-citizen too.

http://www.news.com.au/national/politics/government-minister-josh-frydenberg-may-be-dual-citizen-of-australia-and-hungary/news-story/99ac66dd1269dcf91e8cb60db2361ab5

There is some confusion and speculation whether there are more dual citizens, hence ineligible members, in the Parliament. 

This uncertainty needs to be dealt with. The Government and the Parliament must be freed from the uncertainty about what decision involving ineligible members might later be challenged. The focus must be in the respective jobs, not on dual citizenship. The distraction must end. 

People must have the confidence that laws passed by the Parliament are indeed passed by only those who are legally entitled to be in the Parliament. 

The best strategy here will be to do an audit of citizenship status of every member of the Parliament. A committee of reputed jurists, chaired by a retired Justice of the High Court of Australia, should be tasked to do the job in 2 months. 

With many members of the Parliament demanding it and with Leader of the Opposition, Bill Shorten coming around with his support for this audit, it’s time that Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, agreed with the citizenship Audit for all MPs and Senators. 

Dr Yadu Singh

http://www.facebook.com/DoctorYaduSingh

http://www.twitter.com/dryadusingh 

457 Visa class terminated

Sydney, April 18, 2017

457 class Visa

Malcolm Turnbull TwitterAustralian Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull and Immigration and Border Protection Minister, Peter Dutton, announced today that they have abolished Temporary Worker (Skilled) Visa (subclass 457),  effective immediately.

457 Visa will be replaced by two new temporary Visa classes, which will allow employers and businesses to hire a skilled person from overseas provided they can’t find a suitably skilled local person.

People who will get these visas must have relevant work experience of at least 2 years, have better English proficiency and pass criminal check. This is to ensure that only the best people get this visa.

One of these new classes will be for a shorter period of 2 years. After the conclusion of 2 years, the employees will not be able to apply for PR visa.

Another of the new visa will be able for 4 years, if they have a minimum relevant work experience of 2 years, fulfil tougher English proficiency test and clear the criminal and background check, the criteria which are not applicable for current 457 visa presently.

Fees for both these new visa ($1,150  for 2 years Visa and $2,400 for 4 years Visa) will be higher than what is the case presently. Special concessions in a variety of ways and manners will continue to be available for regional Australia.

Out of about 600 categories of occupations in the list for 457 visa, about 200 categories will be removed.

A minimum wage will be fixed to stop unfair advantage to overseas employees when it comes to wages.

Employers will have to do a mandatory labour testing of the job market and offer the job to a suitably skilled Australian (or a PR visa holder), before such job can go to an overseas person.

Employers and businesses, who employ overseas workers would be required to contribute some funds for training of local people.

As of September, 2016, there are about 95,000 primary 457 visa holders and about 76,000 secondary 457 visa holders (family members of primary 457 visa holders).

Indians constitute about 25% of the total 457 visas, followed by the British at 20% and people from People’s Republic of China (PRC) at about 5%.

Total 457 visa holders are less than 1% of total workers in Australia.

Peter Dutton TwitterMinister for Immigration and Border Protection, Peter Dutton, confirmed that these changes will not affect those who are already holding 457 visa, and current 457 visa holders will be able to apply for the PR visa at the end of their 4 years employment.

The new visa category will be finalised in March 2018, and will be implemented immediately.

It is expected that the Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP) will release more details in days to weeks from now.

More details: http://www.news.com.au/national/politics/prime-minister-malcolm-turnbull-has-banned-457-visas/news-story/7064434e051073a0882a3e11dd8bc87f

http://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/457-visas-to-be-scrapped-new-visa-rules-explained/news-story/0c83d69f94d61c7d81c4dbcccbb56050

http://www.news.com.au/finance/work/what-you-need-to-know-about-the-457-visa-changes/news-story/3894724396a5c7f99491c961ae9b8088

Rob Harris, journalist from the Herald Sun newspaper has posted following information about which categories are excluded from sponsored visa categories.

List of removed occupations: https://www.border.gov.au/Trav/Work/Work/Skills-assessment-and-assessing-authorities/skilled-occupations-lists/removed-skilled-occupations

It is well-known that 457 Visa system was scammed by many employers and businesses. Many times, employers were not testing the market for the availability of suitably skilled local people. Even worse, many employers and businesses were taking money for sponsoring people on 457 visa. Market rates for such bribe ranged from $40,000 to 70,000. I personally know an example of a so-called businessman, who also masquerades as community leader, who took $150,000 from 3 people to sponsor them for 457 visa. Despite this, he didn’t do the proper job, before selling his business to someone else. The new owner demanded money again. Victims contacted a few of us (4 people), seeking assistance. You should not be surprised to know that this particular “businessman” has been given an “Excellence in community service” award by an association. Another example is that of a “businessman” who is known as a “Go to” man in the community for arranging the “match making” for this type of visa. Obviously, he makes his money from not only the “sponsoted” employee, but also from the one who “sponsors” the “employee”. Many of this type of “businesspeople” are often awarded “role model of the community” titles and are listed in Who is Who columns in the communities, because of variety of reasons, none of which can be called genuine or clean. Some foolish Government ministers include them in their delegations and these people are often seen around political leaders to create an impression of their high connections to scare the victims and stop them from complaining to authorities.

There is no doubt that quite a lot of employers, likely to be the majority, sponsor right type of people on 457 visa for the right reasons and act ethically, but it’s undeniable that corruption and rorting are rampant. Exploitation for some of these visa holders is not uncommon. There  is always a sword of the threat of cancelling the sponsorship hanging over 457 visa holders, if they did not do and pay what employers wanted. Once this sponsorship gets cancelled, the employee must find a new  sponsor within 60 days, which is very difficult, if not impossible in many cases.

This behavior not only harms the Australian job seekers, because they miss out on a job, but it also promotes corruption and creates exploitation-based employment industry. This also contributes to cash economy, because the money exchange involved in this, by necessity, is in cash form.

There are already comments from the opposition and Unions that these changes are not enough and are just window dressing.  Looking at the changes, one thing becomes obvious that the shorter term visa  (2 years variety) is likely to be used only for genuine employees.  Nobody is going to pay for a sponsorship which doesn’t lead to PR visa at the end of the sponsored job. Let us see what outcome these changes deliver. Their efficacy in tackling 457 visa rorts will become clear in due course.

I am of the firm opinion that Labour market testing to see if an Australian worker is available before hiring someone from overseas should be done independently, as recommended by the John Azarius inquiry. It is hard to rely on such testing by the employers themselves.

In my view any action to control and eradicate the corruption is welcome. In fact, I believe that Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP) should do everything including strengthening the resources for surveillance, investigation and prosecution against those who are involved in the rorting of sponsored visa programmes, They will have a better chance to catch the scammers if DIBP gives protection, including offering Justice visa, to the victims, to encourage them to testify and provide the necessary evidence against the visa scammers.

I hope that these changes make the sponsored jobs programme good and fair for Australia and Australians, as well as those who apply for this visa. Anything which cleans this visa programme is certainly going to be better than what we have today.

The programme for the obvious reasons will need regular reviewing and fine tuning to make it effective and to be meeting the needs of Australia

Dr Yadu Singh

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http://www.twitter.com/dryadusingh

Privileged to be invited for the welcome event for PM of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu in Sydney

Sydney, 22 Feb, 2017

It was a great pleasure & privilege to be invited to the welcome event for Prime Minister of Israel, His Excellency Benjamin Netanyahu, at the iconic Central Synagogue, Bondi Junction, Sydney. Central Synagogue is the biggest Synagogue in the Southern Hemisphere.

This was the first official visit of an Israeli PM to Australia in 70 years.

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull described Israel as a beacon of democracy in the Middle East and praised Israelis for their innovative attitude. He described Australia as a great friend of Israel. PM Netanyahu (Nicknamed Bibi) spoke well and outlined Jewish people’s “can do” and “must succeed” instincts. He mentioned his belief, and the fact, of the Jewish people, the Indians & the Chinese being the people belonging to the ancient civilizations, which have survived despite the odds and adversities.

The high profile nature of the event can be gauzed by the presence of Australian PM Malcolm Turnbull, former Prime Ministers (John Howard and Tony Abbott), NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian and many Ministers and MPs from both sides of politics.

There were a few representatives from Australian multicultural community, which included Indian (myself), Greek, Chinese, Armenian and South Korean. The crowd of approximately 2000 people gave standing ovation and a round of prolonged applause to Australian PM, Israeli PM, and Former Prime Ministers, Abbott and Howard.

 

Dr Yadu Singh

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Highlights of Federal Budget 2016 and my comments

Sydney, NSW

4th May, 2016

Scott Morrison

Federal treasurer, Scott Morrison, presented his maiden budget in the House of Representatives on Tuesday, 3rd May, 2016.

Here are the key points of this budget.

Superannuation:

  • Lifetime cap of $500,000 for non-concessional contributions (NCC) made on/after 1/7/2007
  • Lifetime Cap will not be affected if there was already more than 500,000 NCC prior to 7.30 PM, 3/5/16.
  • This new NCC cap will replace previous contributions cap of up to $180,000/year (or $540,000 every three years for those who are less than 65 years age.
  • Catch up concessional contributions allowed if total superannuation balance is less than $500,000, and if they did not reach concessional contributions cap in previous years.
  • From 1/7/17, no tax exemption on earnings od assets supporting Transfer to Retirement Income Streams (TRIS). Such earnings will be taxed at 15%.
  • Currently, Superannuation account balance of any amount is tax free when it is in Pension phase. This will change. Only $1.6 million of this money into Pension phase will be tax free and money in excess of $1.6 million will be deemed to be in accumulation phase of superannuation and their earnings will be taxed at 15%.
  • Concessional contributions cap will be $25000 from 1/7/207. Until then, it will remain unchanged at $30000 for aged less than 50 years and $35000 for those who are older than 50 years.
  • Some restrictions to be removed for voluntary or NCC contributions for people aged 65-74 years.
  • Threshold for high Income earners who are required to pay 15% tax on contributions  will be reduced to $250,000 from $300,000 from 1/7/17.
  • Lump sum payments (up to $195,000 currently) during pension phase will be removed.
  • Low Income Superannuation Tax Offset for those with taxable income of up to 37,000, with a cap of $500.

Medicare Levy low Income thresholds for 2015-16 increased slightly for indivisuals and families.

Personal Income Tax rates:

  • 32.5% income tax threshold increased from $80,000 to $87,000. This will benefit about 500,000 taxpayers.

Increased Small Business Income Tax Offset (SBITO):

  • It will be increased to 8% from current 5%. This is available to individuals in receipt of income from an unincorporated small business of less than $2 million turnover.
  • 8% will be applicable for 8 years.

Company Tax rate:

  • By 1/7/26, it will be 25%.
  • It will be reduced to 27.5% from 1/7/16 for companies with less than $10 million turnover/year.
  • Turnover threshold for 27.5% company tax will increase every year. It will be $25 million for year 2017-18 and $50 million for 2018-19.
  • Turnover threshold keeps increasing as years pass by.

Small Business Entity (SBE) threshold increased:

  • Threshold turnover increased to $10 million from current $2 million.
  • Immediate deduction for assets purchased for less than $20,000 per item until 30/6/17.

Tax Avoidance Taskforce:

  • $678.9 millions provided to ATO to ensure compliance activities targeting multinationals, large public and private groups and high wealth individuals.
  • 40% Diverted Tax penalty for multinational corporations that attempt to shift their Australian profits offshore.

Investment on Science, innovation and research:

  • investing $9.7 billion in innovation, science and research to support Australia’s transition to a modern 21st century economy

Youth employment package:

  • $840 million in an innovative Youth Employment Package to help up to 120,000 young people over four years secure jobs.

GST on imported goods:

  • GST will be imposed to low value imported goods from 1/7/17.
  • Overseas suppliers with Australian sales of $75,000 or more will need to register for, collect and remit the GST.

Better protection of Tax whistle-blowers from 1/7/18.

No change in Negative gearing and Capital Gain Tax (CGT)

No change in work related expenses provisions

Cigarettes to become more expensive with higher excise duty (12.5% increase/year for 4 years).

Freeze on indexation on Medicare benefits for next 2 years:

  • it does not make any sense because everything which is required for medical/health servicing is becoming more expensive, but fees for such services are frozen. It is unfair.

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My comments:

  1. Considering the circumstances and proximity to election on 2/7/16, it is overall a safe and non-controversial, and overall a GOOD budget.
  2. Changes made in superannuation have impacted severely for some people, who are in the high wealth individuals category. This is the outcome of populism and with the purpose to counter scare campaign by the Opposition. These individuals (top 4% of Australians) are significant contributors to the economy, investment and businesses which create employment. These changes are quite drastic, and it would have been better to not bring such drastic changes (at least the magnitude and extent) affecting these individuals.
  3.  With substantial changes in superannuation and no changes in negative gearing and CGT, there is a risk that such high wealth individuals will divert their investment into real estate, with the potential outcome of higher prices. This may create obstacles for the entry of new home owners into the residential market.
  4. Reduction of concessional contributions to $25,000 is a wrong idea because our aim is to encourage Australians to save money for retirement. It should have instead been increased to  $50,000, which was the case a few years ago before Wayne Swan reduced it.
  5. Life time cap on NCC of $500,000 is not enough. It should have been at least $1 million.
  6. Companies are business and investment entities, used by most of the participants in the economic activities. This includes small business entities. They need to be supported more vigorously. Small businesses are a significant contributor of employment and business activities in Australia. Company tax reduction to 25% should have been done at a faster rate to accelerate business activities and job creation, and to make Australia an attractive place for investment from everywhere including overseas.
  7. My view is that the small business entities should be only those which have turnover of less than $2 million (Max $5 million), not $500 million or $1 billion.
  8. It appears that some people consider high earners as a punching bag. They forget that these are the very people who contribute in the economic activities of the nation significantly, creating jobs and paying taxes to be used for welfare, roads, education and hospitals. High earners need to be encouraged and supported, not used as a punching bag and disincentivized. Labor and Greens tend to do this all the times, but it appears that the Coalition is also now inclined that way to avoid the scare campaign by the opposition.
  9. Recognising that elections are happening on 2/7/16 and Government had to tread carefully for the sake of its own election, I can see why this budget is the way it is. It is a minimalist budget, except for superannuation changes, and reduces the chance of scare campaign against it like what happened after 2014 Budget.
  10. With mining boom truly over, Australia obviously needs to adapt to new realities and Australians will need to live within their means. Entitlement mentality will need to go. We have to accept that money does not grow on trees. Australia will need to face up the challenges to raise money for the funding of schools, hospitals and education. I support the commentary and proposal by Mike Baird, NSW Premier, in regards to hiking GST to raise money for the funding of essential services and to reduce budget deficits. The Government and the Opposition will need to discuss and come to a bipartisan agreement about our economy so that funding for services can be assured and quality of life of Australians can be guaranteed for years to come.

I have taken many points from a report published by NTAA (National Tax & Accountants’ Association newsletter sent out to their members, dated 3/5/16. I received a copy of this report from my accountant. NTAA is gratefully thanked and acknowledged.


We will hear the Budget reply and economic policies from the Leader of Opposition, Bill Shorten, on Thursday,  5th May, 2016.

*I am not a financial professional. This Post should not be taken as an advice. Please consult your accountant for any matter which might have relevance to you and your circumstances.

Dr Yadu Singh

http://www.twitter.com/dryadusingh

http://www.facebook.com/dryadusingh

Indian Australian community in western Sydney and its importance in electoral politics

Sydney/18th March, 2016

Next federal election for Australian Commonwealth Parliament will be held later this year. If the Turnbull Government goes for the double dissolution of the Parliament, then this election may happen as early as July. If not, then they will happen in September-October. Opinion polls are indicating a tough contest between Bill Shorten-led Australian Labor Party (ALP) and Malcolm Turnbull-led Coalition of Liberal Party & National Party. Significant lift in the numbers for the Coalition in the opinion polls after Malcolm Turnbull became the Prime Minister has largely drifted away from the Coalition. There are multiple reasons for it and these reasons are well known. Honeymoon period for the new Prime Minister is well and truly over. Lack of policy clarifications and policy direction are also relevant. Western suburbs of Melbourne and Sydney have many seats which are classed as marginal, where a small change of voting can deliver these seats to either party. If ALP wins many of these seats, Bill Shorten will become the Prime Minister. The Coalition will need to hold on to many of these seats if they want to form the next Government. They definitely have a tight contest.

People in the Western suburbs of Sydney and Melbourne, like similar areas in other cities, are doing tough, with higher unemployment, cost of living pressure and poverty. These factors often lead to higher level of dissatisfaction and willingness to change the voting pattern. Their votes are up for the grab.

Newer migrants and people who can’t afford to buy expensive houses in Northern and Eastern Sydney, find Western Sydney as a place where they can find houses within their reach. In regards to Indian Australians in NSW, it is well known that this community has a significant presence in Western Sydney. Suburbs like Parramatta and Blacktown have a large number of Indian Australian families. “Singh” was the most common surname in Blacktown a few years ago. Strathfield and some area in South West Sydney in/around Liverpool also have a significant Indian Australian presence.

No party can ignore this community anymore. This fact is now well known and is evident from the efforts by both major parties to work with our community over the last 5 years. ALP had formed a group from our community in 2010, calling it Subcontinent Friends of Labor (SCFOL) and Liberals networked with this community, forming Liberal friends of India (LFI) around 2011-12. Both parties, when in government, have worked to develop better relations with India. While Prime Minister, John Howard (the Coalition) was the one who decided to sell Uranium to India in 2007, it was Prime Minister Julia Gillard (ALP) who managed to reverse ALP’s opposition to Uranium sale to India in 2012, despite India’s refusal to sign Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT). Both parties have made active efforts to network with Indian Australians too. It is an undeniable fact that none of the major parties can ignore Indian Australians in Western Sydney  if they want to win these seats.

With my interactions with Indian Australians, it is clear to me that reaching out by political parties plays a significant role during elections, even though the issues in NSW are not different for us when compared with those for the general community. Our voting behaviour should generally be similar to the general community, but networking by political parties and outreach by their apparatus and operatives can play an important role.  Having said that, I think it would be prudent to make a comment or two here about the efforts by political parties to develop better relations with our community.

ALP started the process of active networking with our community by forming SCFOL Unfortunately, the group was led, and continues to be led, poorly. They controlled and continue to control, some of the community associations, which, unsurprisingly, damaged these associations. Nobody listens to these community associations today and these associations are irrelevant for our community. SCFOL was not inclusive and left out many prominent ALP members from our community, as a manifestation of Right Vs Left factional politics. Its first president did not appear to have a good understanding of Indian community. He came from a Union background and ran a smear campaign against many people just because he did not like them, had disagreement with them or those people did not agree with his style and brand of politics. Division, not inclusion, was his “Mantra” to serve his factional interests. It is beyond me why a group of Indian ALP members will run a vicious campaign against one of the Indian sub-continental persons (Susai Benjamin) from the same party. Obviously, it was an outcome of Right Vs Left ALP factional politics. Treachery and disloyalty are generally a part and parcel of political parties. I was not surprised therefore to know that the founder president was removed recently, and quite acrimoniously, leading to hostility and animosity between key members of the group. The new president of SCFOL, in my view, does not have the necessary ability or capacity to lead effectively. He is a light weight figure, when compared to former SCFOL president, as far as ALP connections are concerned. No surprise to see that the new president and few other equally ineffective leaders of SCFOL did not get any importance during Bill Shorten’s recent visit to Revesby Gurdwara, while the ex-president had the ears and eyes of the federal leader. Whether you like him or not, he (ex-president) was, in my view, more networked and effective as the SCFOL leader. SCFOL needs to be reviewed and revamped.

Liberals had shown their interests in developing good networking with Indian Australians a few years ago, but, later, appeared to have lost interest in such networking. During the O’Farrell Government time, only one person was taken as the Indian community, solely because he was a personal friend of the Premier. Everybody else was ignored. Sadly, this particular person never had any networking with Indian community. Currently, Liberal ministers seems to think that a marketing woman from Indian community, who has charmed her way into the Liberal network, is the key person for the networking with Indian community.  Liberals are either naïve or they don’t care, if they believe this to be the case. Little do they understand that her key focus is her business interests, just like she did with ALP ministers. Federal and state Liberal leaders used to be seen in Indian community events, but this seems to have become less frequent. One pleasant thing however is that some from amongst our community with high-sounding but false positions after their names, and without matching credentials, are not in the inner network of Liberals anymore. It’s a big relief. These people are only for themselves and with their ugly antics, causing shame to themselves and our community. They were using photographs with high profile Liberal politicians to promote their business interests in fleecing money from gullible people. What is needed is the revamping and strengthening of LFI. Like SCFOL, it must be supported by key government ministers and Party officials, if it were ever to get traction in the community. Its key members from our community should be those who have good networking and are decent people, not those who are into exploitation and fleecing of the vulnerable people of our community. Those who sold work experience certificates, arranged fake marriages or arrange or sell 457 visa in return for cash should be kept away from LFI. In contrast to SCFOL, I haven’t heard much about LFI for some considerable time. I am not sure if it is still active. Obviously, LFI should become more active, and visible, if Liberals are keen for the votes and support from our community. It is in their interest to do so if they want to change the current 60:40 voting pattern against Liberal party, and in favour of ALP, as far as our votes are concerned. Improving the networking with our community is a no-brainer.

If I have an advice for ALP and the Coalition, and they listen to it, I will advise them to revamp these groups and go beyond SCFOL and LFI to network with our community. SCFOL and LFI represent a minuscule part of the community. After all, both of them need to have a large and productive network in the community to influence voting behaviour in their favour.

We, as a community, need to do a lot more to be a significant player in politics and political processes of Australia. We must work together in getting some, albeit only good ones, from our community in the local Councils and Parliaments. They must not be those who are into unethical, and illegal, activities like underpaying employees, taking or arranging 457 visa in return for cash or selling work experience for visa purposes. Such people are obviously so keen to be photographed with politicians, simply because it helps their business models and scares the victims from putting complaints. Political leaders must stay away from them and push them away into garbage bins, where they justifiably belong. It’s undeniable that we need to join political parties. Our numbers in Western Sydney are our strength and similarly our numbers in political parties will be our strength as well. One thing more. We must ensure that only good people from amongst us are supported for these roles in politics. Nobody with sub-standard qualities and ethics is encouraged. We don’t need Indian style politics in Australia. We will need to be careful, proactive and determined to not allow undesirable people with poor value system to succeed in their pursuit of selfish interests.

Finally, our support and votes for any party or candidate must be based on policies, principles and quality of the leadership. We must not allow anyone to fool us. Our votes should never be for someone who is not deserving of our votes.

Yadu Singh/Sydney/18 March, 2016
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Congratulations to new assistant minister for multicultural affairs, Craig Laundy

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Press release
Sydney, NSW
15th February, 2016

The Federation of Indian Associations of NSW (FIAN) congratulates Craig Laundy MP for his appointment as new Assistant Minister for Multicultural Affairs in the Turnbull ministry.

Craig Laundy
Craig has been a member of the House of Representatives for the seat of Reid in West Sydney since 2013, representing a diverse community of various ethnicities and religions.

He is a popular MP.

FIAN also takes the opportunity to thank the outgoing minister Senator Concetta Fierravanti-Wells for her excellent work in this area. We are pleased that she has been given a well-deserved promotion in the ministry

Craig has contributed significantly and meaningfully in the area of multiculturalism with his principled stance and his part in the debate around race, refugee intake and multiculturalism in this country. His appointment is a further proof and recognition of his significant contributions.

We remember with appreciation Craig’s stand in March 2014, when he joined other Liberal backbenchers in opposing the proposed changes to the Racial Discrimination Act’s section 18c.

FIAN extends the Minister and the Turnbull government our full support and cooperation in the matters, relevant to multicultural communities, and looks forward to working with him to achieve our common objectives to make our society more just and harmonious and one that is based on human rights and mutual respect.

Like his predecessor, Senator Concetta Fierravanti-Wells, we hope that Craig will continue to consult and network with multicultural communities throughout the length and width of this great nation to help make Australia a better, fairer and more inclusive nation in all fields and manners.

Dr Yadu Singh

President, Federation of Indian Associations of NSW

http://www.fian.org.au, http://www.facebook.com/FianInc, http://www.twitter.com/FianInc

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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