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Jaitley’s Australia visit amidst continued controversy around $16 billion Adani mining project


By Neeraj Nanda*
India’s Finance Minister Arun Jaitley is visiting Australia on a four-day official when he lands in Sydney on March 29. The visit also takes him to Canberra and Melbourne. He will meet the Daniel Andrews, Premier of Victoria, among others during his visit.
The visit comes at a time when the biggest ever proposed Indian investment in Australia, the Queensland Carmichael coalmine project, is facing determined opposition from environmentalists and the Wangan and Jagalingou (W&J) people, traditional owners of the proposed mine site in QLD’s Galilee Basin. The Queensland Parliament had recently unanimously passed a resolution to support the mega-mine with the Indian mining giant Adani.
A Tweet by the Indian Finance Ministry says he is on a mission “mainly to attract investment and hold bilaterals”. His engagements include addresses at the CEOs Forum and the ‘Make in India’ conference in Sydney.
A Press Information Bureau, New Delhi, media release says “one of the main objectives of the Finance Minister’s visit to Australia is to attract foreign investment in India especially in Infrastructure sector among others.”
An expert on the subject, who does not want to be named, says, “The fact is that Australia is a capital importing country and so is India. How can two capital importing countries export capital to each other?”
But media reports indicate Jaitley aims to entice cash-rich Australian super funds to invest in India.
The Indian Finance Minister will in Sydney address and have an interactive session at the Sydney Campus of the SP Jain School of Global Management. He will also have a meeting with Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop. Later, Jaitley will inaugurate the Sydney branch of the Union Bank of India.
Next day, on March 30, the Finance Minister will deliver the Key Note Address at the ‘Make in India’ Conference in Sydney. He will also have a meeting with prominent CEOs of Australia. Thereafter, he will have a bilateral meeting with The Hon. Scott Morrison, MP, and Treasurer. In the afternoon, Jaitley will have an interaction with the local Indian community.
During his stay in Canberra (March 31), the Finance Minister will have bilateral meetings with Senator Mathias Cormann, Minister for Finance and Peter Vergese, Foreign Secretary. In the afternoon, the Indian Finance Minister will have a meeting with the Vice Chancellor of the Australian National University (ANU) followed by an interaction with ANU Economists and participation in the KR Narayanan Oration at the University.
In the evening, Arun Jaitley will address the Indian community at a reception hosted by the High Commissioner of India in Australia in which leading members of Indian community from all major cities of Australia have been invited.
On the last leg of his Australia visit, the Indian Finance Minister will be in Melbourne (April 1) where he will meet Peter Coastello, Chairman, Future Fund and will participate in the ‘Invest in India Round Table Conference’.
He will also attend a signing ceremony of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between FICCI and Australia-India Business Council and have one to one meeting with CEOs of various companies.

And in the evening Jaitley will visit the University of Melbourne for participating in a town hall lecture with Professor Craig Jeffrey, CEO and Director of the Australia India Institute and Greg Sheridan, Foreign Editor of ‘The Australian’ newspaper. The public lecture will include a lively discussion between the three panel members, with time for questions from the audience.

*Editor, South Asia Times, Melbourne. SAT News Service

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