Australian High Commission
New Delhi
India, Bhutan

High Commissioner's Keynote Address at the Global Counter Terrorism Council (GCTC) Conference (30/01/2023)

                                                              Keynote Address: ‘Countering terrorism: unity, partnerships and teamwork’

                                   Re-Imaging India’s Security Architecture Conference hosted by Global Counter Terrorism Council (virtual)

(Check against delivery)                                                                                                                                                                                               Monday 30 January 2023

Thank you Cleo for the introduction.

Good afternoon. It is a pleasure to be speaking today at this conference.

Thank you to the team at the Global Counter Terrorism Council for hosting today.

Australia welcomes the vital role GCTC plays in deepening the public’s understanding of the importance of international cooperation to tackle shared national security risks.

I know the work of independent think tanks is highly valued among Australian and Indian policy makers.  I encourage the GCTC and other think tanks in the audience today to continue to connect and collaborate with organisations in Australia.  This only further deepens and improves our bilateral security cooperation.

Today I want to offer an Australian perspective on the global challenge of terrorism, outline Australia’s international approach to countering terrorism and violent extremism, and conclude with how we are working with India on this approach.

Australia-India Security Relationship

But first, I want to outline the broader security relationship between Australia and India.

We have never been closer.

We have seen an unprecedented convergence of our strategic interests in the Indo-Pacific region – as bilateral, trilateral, quadrilateral, and multilateral partners.

Our partnership is critical to shaping the region we want.

In 2020, we elevated our ties to a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership.  This cemented us as top tier partners across a range of domains.

Our Partnership translates our shared vision into practical cooperation.

We support a rules-based maritime order, based on respect for sovereignty and international law, particularly the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.

We have advanced several activities through the Indo-Pacific Oceans Initiative. This promotes better coordination and cooperation on maritime issues.

Our Cyber and Critical Technology Partnership promotes a stable and prosperous Indo-Pacific.

We’ve cooperated across the full gamut of cyber activities, with our Strategic National Security Cyber Dialogue supporting information exchange and timely cooperation on cyber threats.

I am delighted the head of Australia’s Home Affairs Department is in town this week for bilateral and Quad discussions in this area.

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

In 2022, for example, the Australian and Indian armies participated in bilateral Exercise AUSTRAHIND, the India Air Force participated in the Royal Australian Air Force Exercise PITCH BLACK, and the Indian Navy joined the Royal Australian Navy Exercise KAKADU.

Both countries also participated in Exercise MALABAR with the US and Japan.

And we work together to support regional architecture, including a commitment to ASEAN centrality.  Both Australian and India now have Comprehensive Strategic Partnerships with ASEAN.


Through the Quad, Australia and India work with other regional partners and groupings to help shape an Indo-Pacific we want to live in – where all of us have agency to determine our own future.

Quad partners are committed to upholding a peaceful, stable, and prosperous Indo-Pacific region, in which sovereignty is respected and countries are free to make their own choices.

Quad Foreign Ministers are leading work on core regional priorities.

Counter-terrorism is one such shared priority.

In October last year Australia hosted India at the Second Quad Counter-Terrorism Tabletop Exercise.

Over 60 counter-terrorism experts came together to develop a better understanding of our collective capabilities.

Experts shared best practices on preparing and responding to the threat of terrorism and violent extremism.

Exercises like this help us translate vision into reality.

The threat of terrorism

We conduct these exercises because both our countries know the awful harm that terrorism and violent extremism causes to our communities.

Events like the 2008 Mumbai attacks, 2002 Bali Bombings and the September 11, 2001, attacks changed our world forever.

Australia was deeply shocked by the horrific Mumbai attacks in 2008.  We remember the terrible loss of innocent lives, including Australians, and the bravery shown by India’s National Security Guards, anti-terrorism squads, and police forces.

I think of that bravery, sense of duty and sacrifice whenever I pass the memorial to Assistant Sub-Inspector Tukaram Omble in Mumbai.

On 12 October last year, Australia commemorated the 20th anniversary of the Bali Bombings, which took 202 lives.

The commemoration was a sombre opportunity to remember and acknowledge the human costs of terrorism, the lives that are lost and the loved ones who are left behind.

These terrible events sparked closer collaboration between communities and countries – to work towards preventing these sorts of attacks in future.

Terrorism today

Today, terrorism remains a diverse and dynamic threat in a complex, volatile and uncertain environment.

We face new and different threats: ideologically motivated violent extremists, and a complex mix of nationalist, ethnically motivated, anti-government and racist groups and individuals.

Technological change is accelerating, with chemical weapons and cyber and drone technologies all contributing to the complex, constantly shifting landscape.

Technology is also impacting the financial landscape.

The increasing use of virtual assets, encrypted messaging and untraceable cryptocurrency are just three emerging fields that require our attention.

Effectively countering terrorism online and in the digital world is arguably now our biggest future test.

Individuals are increasingly vulnerable to radicalisation.

Following the horrific livestreamed terrorist attacks in Christchurch in 2019, Australia became a founding supporter of the Christchurch Call and codified its principles into our online safety legislation and policy responses.

The Christchurch Call aims to eliminate terrorist and violent extremist content online.

All nations now must, more than ever, work together to counter such threats and continuously adapt.

Australia’s counter-terrorism narrative

In recent decades, Australia has learned three lessons which underpin our international approach to countering terrorism and violent extremism. 

First, unity of effort works.

Working together to set common objectives and share information and lessons helps to save lives and protect us all.

Second, partnerships matter.

A comprehensive, integrated approach – globally, regionally, and locally – works best to counter terrorism, prevent radicalisation, and safeguard our interests.

And finally, teamwork is key.

Working together – sharing our nations’ views, perspectives and approaches – puts us all in a better position to tackle terrorism and violent extremism.

Terrorism and violent extremism have no place in Australia, our region or our world.  There is no justification for acts of terror on any grounds.

We will continue to work with international partners to ensure it has no place in our future.

Australia-India cooperation

Australia supports the people and the government of India in the global fight against terrorism.

We are committed to working closely with India to respond to terrorism.

And we are united in condemning terrorism in all its form and manifestations.

Australia and India’s broad counter-terrorism cooperation includes countering radicalisation and violent extremism, combatting terrorism financing, proscribing terrorist individuals and entities, preventing the exploitation of the internet, law enforcement, information sharing and capacity building.

In November last year the Assistant Minister for Foreign Affairs, Tim Watts MP, attended the No Money for Terror Ministerial Conference here in New Delhi.

The conference strengthened cooperation and capacity to prevent terrorism financing.

In May last year, Australia welcomed the Joint Secretary for Counter-Terrorism at the MEA, Mr Mahaveer Singhvi, to the 13th India-Australia Counter-Terrorism Joint Working Group.

At the Working Group, Australia and India reaffirmed our commitment to work bilaterally and multilaterally to respond to terrorism, including by advancing interactions, practical cooperation, and information sharing.

Looking ahead

In the years ahead, our approach to countering terrorism will be shaped by the following factors.

Firstly, the threat is persistent and dynamic; it is never static. 

Secondly, as the world changes, the threats change with it. We need to anticipate, understand and effectively adapt to such changes as they arise.

Finally, the root causes of terrorism and violent extremism can be better understood, identified, and mitigated when we work together collaboratively

As I said at the start, Australia and India have never been closer.

This year India hosts the G20, and Australia will host the Quad Leaders’ Summit.  Through such fora, and many more, I am confident we will continue collaborating on countering terrorism and deepening our strong security partnership.

Thank you for your time, and I look forward to your questions.