As members of the Commonwealth, India and Australia have a shared history and language, common democratic traditions, similar legal, financial and Governmental structures and common interests as Indian Ocean littoral States. With the increasing importance of the Asia-Pacific region, there are concerted efforts on both sides to expand and diversify bilateral relations. However, Australian reaction to our nuclear tests in 1998 caused a setback to our political relations. The relations are now back on track and have acquired a new momentum and vigour.


Foreign Minister Alexander Downer paid an official visit to India from March 21-24, 2000 and paved the way for Prime Minister John Howard's visit to India in July 2000 after a gap of eleven years. Other recent visits were that of Mr. Tim Fisher, Deputy Prime Minister in February 1999, Shadow Foreign Minister Laurie Brereton in February 2000, Opposition Leader Kim Beazley in April 2000, Immigration and Multicultural Affairs Minister Philip Ruddock in July 2000, Trade Minister Mark Vaile in October 2000, Minister for Communications, Information Technology and the Arts Senator Richard Alston in December 2000, an Australian Parliamentary delegation led by Hon. Andrew Southcott, MP in November 2000. Important visits from State Governments included that of Deputy Premier Hendy Cowan of Western Australia in February 2000 and Deputy Premier Jim Elder of Queensland in May 2000.

From the Indian side the first important visit post Pokhran II was that of Minister of Commerce Shri Murasoli Maran in April 2000 to lead the Joint Commion Talks followed by that of Minister of Textiles Shri Kashi Ram Rana in November 2000. In 2001 important bilateral visits were that of EAM and Raksha Mantri Shri Jaswant Singh in June 2001, Minister of Information Technology and Parliamentary Affairs Shri Pramod Mahajan in April 2001 and later as leader of a goodwill Parliamentary delegation of whips of different political parties in May 2001. The goodwill delegation included Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs and Petroleum & Natural Gas, Shri Santosh Kumar Gangwar and Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs and Railways, Shri O. Rajagopal. A large delegation of Members of Parliament and Assembly Speakers from different states led by Speaker of the Lok Sabha Shri G. M. Balayogi and Deputy Speaker of the Lok Sabha Shri P. M. Sayeed attended the 47th Commonwealth Parliamentary Association Conference in September 2001. Minister of Health and Family Welfare Dr. C.P.Thakur led a 62 member delegation to the 6th International Conference on AIDS in Asia and Pacific held in Melbourne in October 2001. Other important visits included that of Governor of Andhra Pradesh Dr. C. Rangarajan in October 2001 to render the Narayanan Oration at the ANU and Minister of Rural Development Shri M. Venkayya Naidu in November, 2001 to attend the Commonwealth Local Government Forum in Brisbane.

Due to the last minute cancellation of the visit of PM in the wake of communal riots in Godhra, Gujarat, the Indian delegation to CHOGM 2002 (March 2-5) was led by External Affairs Minister Shri Jaswant Singh. Bilateral consultations at Secretary-level between the two countries were revived in New Delhi in February 2000 and were subsequently held in Canberra in April 2001. There were extensive discussions and exchange of views on bilateral relations and on important international and regional issues.

Economic Cooperation

On the economic front, India Australia relations are expanding rapidly. Efforts to promote bilateral trade have been institutionalised by the establishment of the Joint Ministerial Commission (JMC) and the Joint Business Council (JBC). The last meeting of the JMC and JBC and the first Joint Working Group (JWG) on Energy and Minerals, were held in Australia in April 2000.

India and Australia have also signed the following Agreements:
(a) Special Agreement on Cooperation in Science and Technology
(b) Agreement for Avoidance of Double Taxation and Prevention of Fiscal Evasion
(c) Bilateral Investment Protection Agreement

Defence Relations

Two Indian Defence Officers are currently undergoing training in Australian Command Staff Course (ASCS) and Centre for Defence and Security Studies Course (CDSS). Similarly, two Australian Defence officers are attending the training courses at Defence Service Staff College (Command and Staff Course), Wellington and National Defence College, New Delhi.

© 2003 Consulate General of India ,Sydney