Tiffin Talk: Beyond the Lost Decade; A Review of the Aus/India Relationship by Maxine McKew

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02 May 2013 12:45 pm

The Report of the Perceptions Taskforce published in 2012 by the Australia India Institute considered both the opportunities and continuing barriers to better bi-lateral relations between Australia and India, following a period of significant misunderstanding. With renewed interest and a very energetic focus by both government and non-government players, Maxine McKew looks at the success of recent initiatives -  the people-to-people contacts, the change in policy on energy security, and the additional ways in which soft power can be deployed. What’s ahead for Australia-India relations? With political volatility in both countries, how do we ensure that our policy makers remain focussed on securing long term progress for our two nations? The recent success of the Australia India Youth Dialogue points the way to engagement by a new generation through educational exchanges and other opportunities for vibrant discourse. The challenge is how we ensure there is no backsliding in the decade ahead.

About Maxine McKew:

One of the most widely recognised identities in Australia, Maxine McKew’s career spans both politics and journalism. In the 2007 federal election Maxine McKew won a spectacular victory against John Howard and wrote herself into Australian political history by defeating a sitting Prime Minister in a seat that had only ever been held by the Liberal Party.

As the member for Bennelong Maxine McKew secured over $200 million in funding for her electorate, principally in the areas of health, education and disability care. She was also active with the local business community and championed the cause of the many research and technology companies in the expanding Macquarie Park complex. This work has been recognised with her recent appointment in September 2010 to the Dean’s Advisory Council for Macquarie University’s School of Advanced Medicine.

On coming to political office Maxine McKew was immediately elevated to the executive and was sworn in as Parliamentary Secretary for Early Childhood Education in December of 2007. In this capacity, she led Labor’s reform agenda and through COAG secured agreement with the states for the first national standards on a quality framework for childcare and preschools. She was also responsible for delivering $970m to the states and territories, which has helped secure access for all Australian children to quality preschool.

In government Maxine McKew also developed a particular interest in the work of the Major Cities unit within Infrastructure Australia. She is a strong advocate for federal government investment in our metropolitan centres and has consistently argued that our cities can accommodate larger populations if we improve our planning systems and bring together the best in modern design and technology.

Over the years this diverse background attracted the interest of the corporate world and Maxine was a sought after speaker and facilitator at numerous corporate and industry events. Maxine has always been a strong advocate of opportunities for women, both in her own industry and in the wider workforce. Her voluntary activities have included the chairmanship of the Advisory Council to the National Breast Cancer Centre and membership of the University of Sydney’s Research Institute for Asia Pacific. She has also served as patron for Osteoporosis Australia and as a member of the Sydney Symphony Council. Maxine is an Ambassador for Alzheimer’s Australia and has recently taken on a role with the not for profit group Social Ventures Australia.