Visiting Australian Foreign Minister Stephen Smith on Tuesday assured Union Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma that his country was taking all necessary security measures to protect the thousands of Indian students and community members in Australia.
Mr. Smith is learnt to have told Mr. Sharma that the security of Indian students was of concern at the highest level and even Prime Minister Kevin Rudd was seized of the matter. The Australian government was taking all steps to ensure that all the students who were displaced due to closure of certain fraudulent institutions were relocated to new places through an alternative arrangement.
The two Ministers also discussed the economic relations between the two nations and the need to further consolidate trade, especially investments relating to mining and other areas of interest. Both discussed the progress on the feasibility study undertaken to explore the possibility of a Free Trade Agreement (FTA).
It was informed that the feasibility study would be completed by this month-end and further talks on its progress would be taken up during the visit of Australia’s Trade Minister that is likely to take place sometime in May.
Both Ministers also agreed that major trade issues and FTA would be taken up by the Joint Ministerial Commission (JMC), whose meeting will be held in May.
Some of the major Indian investments in Australia include Sterlite Industries’ gold mine in Queensland and two copper mines in Tasmania. The Oswal group is constructing an ammonia plant at Karratha, which is close to the North-West Shelf project in Western Australia. The Aditya Birla Group has acquired copper mines at Mt. Gordon (Queensland) and at Nifty (Western Australia).
Mr. Smith is scheduled to meet External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna on Wednesday.