When Change Brings Continuity

10 September 2013

By Alexandra Hansen

Australia's change of government will be good for Australia-India relations, says leading policy analyst and A.I.I Associate Director Rory Medcalf.

In an article in the Indian Express newspaper, Medcalf writes that the new Liberal-National Party coalition government led by Prime Minister-elect Tony Abbott is likely to affirm the Indo-Pacific nature of Australia's outlook.

"The good news for India is that Saturday's election of a conservative government under Tony Abbott marks the best kind of continuity when it comes to strengthening ties between the Indian Ocean democracies," Medcalf says. "This matters, given that Australia is becoming increasingly important as a trade and investment partner as well as a strategic friend for India in the shared maritime region of Indo-Pacific Asia."

Medcalf, who is also program director at the Sydney-based Lowy Institute for International Policy points out that India is Australia's fourth-largest export destination, and Australia supplies significant amounts of coal to energy-hungry India.

Regarding the outgoing Labor government in Canberra, Medcalf says Labor can claim credit for improving relations with India.

"During the six years of Labor rule, successive prime ministers Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard took several important steps to bring the relationship to a level of strategic trust," he writes.

"Most significantly, in December 2011, Gillard took the courageous step of driving a policy change in her own party on uranium exports to India, consigning to history books Labor's outdated ban on nuclear commerce with New Delhi. Negotiations on safeguards are under way."

"Indians, including the business community and the policy establishment, should feel comfortable knowing that Canberra's new government will continue to improve on bilateral ties"