Australian High Commission
New Delhi
India, Bhutan

Deputy High Commissioner Sarah Storey's remarks at the 18th Anniversary of National Maritime Foundation

                                   Deputy High Commissioner Sarah Storey's remarks at the 18th Anniversary of National Maritime Foundation

(Check against delivery)                                                                                                                                                                                                           15 February 2023

Good afternoon

Thank you Vice Admiral Chauhan for the introduction, and thank you Admiral Singh for those opening remarks.

It is an honour to be here celebrating the National Maritime Foundation (NMF).

Congratulations to the NMF team for what it has achieved in the past 18 years.

Australia welcomes the vital role the foundation plays in aiding Delhi’s strategic thinkers and policy makers find their ‘sea-legs’.

We see the NMF as India’s premier maritime security think tank, and indeed standing proudly amongst the most credible across the Indo-Pacific. 

Through its strong partnerships with Australian institutions, I’m proud to say NMF has helped drive our bilateral relationship forward.

This is why I am pleased to see today’s theme centres on the Indian Ocean.

The Australia-India relationship is one of the most consequential in this region.

It may surprise you that Australia boasts the region’s longest Indian Ocean coastline, as well as its largest Search and Rescue Zone.

Nearly half Australia’s exports leave ports from our Indian Ocean coastline.

But as two of the largest Indian Ocean littoral states, Australia and India are placed squarely in the middle of a region that has felt the sharp edge of strategic competition.

For Australia and India, we share a responsibility in ensuring our vision for the Indo-Pacific.

We want to live in a region that is peaceful and predictable.

Where our countries and peoples can trade and prosper.

Where partners work to uphold the agreed international rules that underwrite our stability, prosperity and sovereignty.

As Australia’s Foreign Minister Wong says, “We desire a region where no country dominates, and no country is dominated.”

But no country can achieve this vision alone.  Partnership is imperative.

It is up to all countries to deploy their power, influence, networks, and capabilities, to bring an agreeable strategic equilibrium in the Indo-Pacific.

That is why in 2020, we elevated our ties to a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership.

We have since seen an unprecedented growth in our cooperation.

Together we support a rules-based maritime order, based on respect for sovereignty and the Law of the Sea.

We have advanced activities through the Indo-Pacific Oceans Initiative to promote better cooperation on maritime ecology.

We are deepening and broadening naval cooperation by enhancing the scope and complexity of our exercises.

In 2022, for example, the Indian Navy joined the Royal Australian Navy Exercise KAKADU.

We also participated in Exercise MALABAR with the US and Japan.

And we work together to support regional architecture, whether it be ASEAN, Pacific Islands Forum, or the Indian Ocean Rim Association.

Australia and India are also cooperating and coordinating more in the Pacific, in partnership with our Pacific Island neighbours.

Just as India is doing more in the Pacific, Australia has enhanced our maritime engagement in the Indian Ocean Region.

Through our Indian Ocean Maritime Partnerships Program we are increasing our support for the Information Fusion Centre – Indian Ocean Region (IFC-IOR) in Gurgaon. 

Across the region we are providing capacity building on maritime domain awareness, maritime safety and disaster response.

It is this focus on the tangible and the meaningful that makes Australia a pragmatic partner on maritime issues.

Crucially, we look to work with India – the region’s natural leader – as a key partner in delivering these initiatives.

And we look to think tanks – such as the NMF – to continue offering maritime perspectives to policy makers and the public.

Thank you for your time, congratulations again to NMF on this occasion, and I wish you all the best in your discussions today.