Australia's High Commissioner to India Harinder Sidhu
Australia's High Commissioner to India Harinder Sidhu

`India, Australia are natural partners`

ANI | Updated: Nov 02, 2018 17:54 IST

New Delhi [India], Nov 1 (ANI): Australia's High Commissioner to India Harinder Sidhu on Thursday said the two countries are natural partners and that India should consider doing more with Australia in the military and strategic relations.
Speaking at seminar on 'Evolving Geo-Politics of the Indo-Pacific Region-Challenges and Prospects', Sidhu asserted that there is a lack of confidence in India about Australia's strategic value despite the rapid expansion of the strategic partnership between Australia and India. "Perhaps, this is because there is low or outdated understanding of what Australia can bring to this strategic equation," she said.
"The capabilities and projection of Hard Power by Indo-Pacific states are rapidly increasing so that Asia is now the second largest region in terms of Military Expenditure at 447 Billion US Dollars in 2017. This rose from approximately 17 per cent of global expenditure to 27 per cent of global expenditure on military material in just 10 years. Of the top 10 states with the highest military expenditure, six are in the Indo-Pacific and India, as we all know, has been one of the largest arms importers in recent years," Sidhu added.
Commenting on China's influence in the international system, Sidhu said that Australia is concerned by the pace and scale of Beijing's activities including the use of disputed features and artificial structures for lots of purposes.
Talking about the military, Sidhu revealed that Australia would increase defence spending to 2 per cent of GDP from 2020 to 2021.
"The Australian government is investing 200 billion dollars over the next decade to build all of our future submarines, major surface combatants and minor war vessels in Australia. We are increasing our submarine force from 6 to 12, and bringing on nine new frigates optimised for anti-submarine warfare from the late 2020s," she said.
Sidhu further explained that Australia's defence cooperation is at the "highest tempo".
Australia has gone from 11 defence exercises, activities and meetings in 2014 to 29 in 2017 and 38 in 2018.
Sidhu also talked about Quad's progress and said, "In my view, it (Quad) is doing exactly what it was intended to do. The purpose of any dialogue is to build understanding and deepen shared interest. The Quad is intended to do no more or no less than that."