India has inspired Australia to act on black money, may demonetise: Australian envoy

"We are watching India closely to see if we can learn something from this process."

Written by Srijana Mitra Das | Updated: January 3, 2017 1:30 pm
demonetisation, demonetisation effects, demonetisation crisis, international view demonetisation, demonetisation news, australian envoy, india news Harinder Sidhu

Harinder Sidhu, Australia’s High Commissioner to India, tells The Indian Express that following India’s demonetisation decision, there is talk in Australia about “demonetising our highest denomination note”. Excerpts:

How do you view demonetisation?

I am watching with great fascination how it unfolds — if it works, it will be a profound change for the Indian system. It’s certainly the most radical policy I’ve ever seen put into effect. I’m very impressed with how the government has been grappling with it. They have responded to so much public feedback and constantly tried to incorporate responses along the way. I appreciate the effort along with all the complexities involved.

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Interestingly, this seems to have inspired a move on tackling black money — possibly even demonetisation — in Australia. We’ve just announced a black money task force in Australia; there’s been some conversation about demonetising our highest denomination note.

We are watching India closely to see if we can learn something from this process.

Are there stand-out features of India-Australia ties?

The trade relationship has grown quite dramatically in the last few years. In 2004, our bilateral trade relationship was only about 500-600 million dollars two-way. Now, we’re at 20 billion dollars. There’s great interest in India economically. Arun Jaitley visited in March with a business delegation. Next year, we hope to bring a very large Australian business delegation to India.

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The defence relationship is one of our great success stories.

We have common interests; we both share the Indian Ocean space, we’re both maritime nations, we’re both democracies and we both want stability and rule of law in our region. That has driven a much closer relationship — the numbers of defence exchanges in 2016 alone equals the numbers of defence exchanges we’ve had in the last three years combined.

In the last three months, we’ve seen our first bilateral naval exercise. We’ve had four Navy ships visit India this year. We’ve had reciprocal visits by chiefs of Army and Navy. We’ve had high-level strategic talks.

It’s a very good, trusting, solid relationship.

Will this become more solid with China becoming regionally dominant and the US, under Donald Trump, withdrawing?

India and Australia share common interests in stability. I don’t see that changing.

It’s too early to say what a presidency under Mr Trump will or won’t do. I wouldn’t speculate — we’d rather work with the Trump administration. We have a very old alliance; our Prime Minister has reached out to Mr Trump. We will engage with the Trump administration.

What would you say to Indians who fear racist attacks in Australia, the latest being the killing of bus driver Manmeet Alisher.

Indians shouldn’t fear. Australia is one of the safest countries in the world. It is also a very tolerant, multicultural society and Indians are the largest migrants to Australia — 20 per cent of migrants last year came from India. Indian-born Australians have tripled in the last 10 years. It’s a very welcoming place for Indians.

Sometimes, random criminal acts are overread as racist atacks. The attacks on students in 2008 were not all racially motivated — but our government dealt with that squarely. We need to ensure people don’t put themselves in vulnerable situations, don’t walk late at night in certain parts of town — that applies as much in Delhi as in Australia.

I do want to express the deep sadness of the Australian people and government at the death of Manmeet Alisher. As far as we’ve been able to ascertain, there was no racial motivation. He just happened to be in the wrong situation.

Reports of migrants to Australia landing on Nauru Island indicate they’ve been incarcerated in inhuman conditions.

We bring in roughly one per cent of our new population in migrants each year — our established migration policy is extraordinarily generous by international standards. India is now the largest source of migrants for Australia. I am a migrant myself. I came to Australia as a child. I’ve seen aspirations realised both ways.

We also have a strong refugee programme. We bring in about 17,000 refugees each year. Last year, we announced we’d bring in another 12,000 Syrian refugees. There’s enormous support — but for that to continue, we have to be very clear what paths we will and won’t accept people on.

The government has made a tough, but necessary, decision not to allow people arriving illegally on shore. So, we’ve built centres in Nauru.

Amnesty is concerned about these.

I’m not going to comment on some people’s perceptions of conditions there. The Australian government understands it has an obligation to these people’s welfare. We discharge that as best as we can.

But we are concerned about people staying in Nauru for extended periods. This is why our government has just reached an agreement with the US, to resettle those people in the US. We have a very clear policy that says you will not be allowed into Australia if you arrive by boat. That’s aimed against people-smuggling outfits. Until we put these very strong policies in place, people were losing lives, drowning at sea. There is a humanitarian element.

Is there humanitarian concern for Australia’s aboriginal community?

That problem isn’t unique to us, it’s what indigenous communities face around the world. Entrenched disadvantage goes from one generation to another. It’s not easy to fix. And many aboriginal communities live thousands of miles from cities. Reaching them, delivering services, is very difficult. We’re working on this but there’s no silver bullet.

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First Published on: January 3, 2017 4:39 am
  1. A
    Anony
    Jan 3, 2017 at 5:20 am
    Ask Australia to take Modi and Jaitley and implement this stupid decision there as well. lt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;In return, they can give a few kangaroos to our Zoo. Useless Modi and Jaitley is not worth more than that
    Reply
    1. A
      Anony
      Jan 3, 2017 at 5:23 am
      So, Australia also has a solid plan to kill 100 people
      Reply
      1. H
        Honiara
        Jan 3, 2017 at 6:29 am
        Modi had made the dream of Make in India-lt;br/gt;Made a Thuglak out of himself and has exported it to Australia. Wah....wha...
        Reply
        1. K
          Kalidas
          Jan 3, 2017 at 12:19 am
          Australia and New Zealand (because they tend to go together) governments should consider not appointing the foreigners as High Commissioners and Ambadors to overseas countries, and instead appoint their original nationals. Otherwise, they will get wrong feedback and eventually destroy their countries. lt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;This is why I like USA , UK, Germany and France. They preserve their own ideny, and decide their policies on merit.lt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;Non Australians always have allegiance to their root country, and will be swa by them. I am sure this lady will clap when India wins, and flutter Indian flag instead of Australian.
          Reply
          1. V
            Vihari Naidu
            Jan 3, 2017 at 3:33 am
            Hope you don't end up 100 people like in India.
            Reply
            1. J
              Jake
              Jan 3, 2017 at 11:52 am
              It has already been made compulsory in many Australian schools.. dont worry they are not ashamed like you are!
              Reply
              1. Y
                Yogita
                Jan 3, 2017 at 6:10 am
                Demonetisation has been a success considering India being a huge complex country - 90% of hidden wealth under Tax Net now plus $25 Billion dividend
                Reply
                1. R
                  r
                  Jan 3, 2017 at 5:18 am
                  "I am watching with great fascination how it unfolds — if it works, it will be a profound change for the Indian system."lt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;As if though Indians are guinea pigs to experiment before applying to themselves.lt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;But our Feku PM as allowed us to be guinea pigs.
                  Reply
                  1. A
                    abhinav
                    Jan 3, 2017 at 3:58 am
                    wait 4 it.....she will be dubbed a sanghi or a bhakt very soon....
                    Reply
                    1. J
                      Jai hind
                      Jan 3, 2017 at 5:56 am
                      We.don't need nothing in return ..mufth Mai lelo
                      Reply
                      1. A
                        avi
                        Jan 3, 2017 at 12:53 am
                        Your impression is wrong ! When some one takes an oath for Australian citizenship he/she becomes one of them ! The "roots" are only for nostalgialt;br/gt;i.e. that is where your forefathers came from. By the way the present USA ambador in Delhi is also of Indian origin. Would now start disliking USA ?
                        Reply
                        1. A
                          avi
                          Jan 3, 2017 at 12:47 am
                          Your impression is wrong ! When some one takes an oath of allegiance for Australia he/she becomes one of them! The 'roots' is only nostalgia, connected with where your forefathers came from. By the way the present U.S. Ambador in Delhi is of Indian origin! Would you now start disliking U.S.???
                          Reply
                          1. A
                            Anon
                            Jan 3, 2017 at 3:26 pm
                            Sanghi puppets talking
                            Reply
                            1. A
                              A villager
                              Jan 3, 2017 at 5:14 am
                              Now our "intellectuals"will start bashing Australia.
                              Reply
                              1. D
                                dskushwaha
                                Jan 3, 2017 at 5:17 pm
                                Indian government did it secretly and Australian envoy has leaked the plan of demonetisation.
                                Reply
                                1. S
                                  Sreenivasan
                                  Jan 3, 2017 at 10:19 am
                                  In the beginning RBI was giving figures on a regular basis. Then alarmed by the rush and eventuality of receiving almost all of it coming to bank, they stopped giving figures to the Press. Now like the RSS, they will try to spread untruths and lies to draw a glossy picture about the failed demonetization. You chew it and swallow if you like. But Indians are not all fools.
                                  Reply
                                  1. S
                                    Sreenivasan
                                    Jan 3, 2017 at 10:07 am
                                    Please do it, after printing adequate number of notes for replacement. Otherwise, you will be called a fool by your people.
                                    Reply
                                    1. E
                                      Ekta
                                      Jan 3, 2017 at 3:03 pm
                                      Yes ..lt;br/gt;very good steps .lt;br/gt;best wishes
                                      Reply
                                      1. E
                                        emittrap
                                        Jan 3, 2017 at 6:43 am
                                        Either u r ignorant of happenings around u or u have a bias against Modilt;br/gt;-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=--=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-lt;br/gt;At least 1 Trillion hasn't returned to banking syst which is a gain for Govtlt;br/gt;-lt;br/gt;Of the 13.4 Tr which has returned, Govt expects to gain 3 Tr thro tax penaltylt;br/gt;-lt;br/gt;'Fake currency eco' is totally paralyzed and will remain so for another 5 yearslt;br/gt;-lt;br/gt;Kashmir violence and Maoist activities have all been brought to near 0 levelslt;br/gt;-lt;br/gt;Did U notice the snouts of the secular opposition pigs after demonetizationlt;br/gt;-lt;br/gt;If u call such a multi beneficial action 'thughlaki', u really need to check your brains
                                        Reply
                                        1. G
                                          gopal
                                          Jan 3, 2017 at 2:56 am
                                          Good.dia is becoming an example worth emulating in few areas including Yoga, Demonetization, Cultural values, space technology etc.
                                          Reply
                                          1. I
                                            Indian
                                            Jan 3, 2017 at 1:14 am
                                            Nonsense. Indian origin citizens are doing great in other countries. Be it doctors, engineers, Politicians, soldiers. So just think what you could do for your country India rather than level baseless allegations against others.
                                            Reply
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