All things Indian : Luke Foley shares his vision for greater engagement with India
Returning from a week-long visit to India, the Hon. Luke Foley, Leader of the Opposition in NSW was keen to share his experiences with the Indian media. In a short one-on-one chat with The Indian Telegraph’s special correspondent Vish Viswanathan, Mr Foley indicated that he was very impressed with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s vision for upskilling 500 million Indians by 2020, saying, “India is a land of great opportunities and I want New South Wales to be part of those opportunities”. Mr Foley visited India along with Daniel Mookhey, the first Indian origin Member of Legislative Council in the NSW Parliament. Mr Foley seems to have developed a genuine affection for India, its people, the culture and community, and has expressed bipartisan support for any India focussed initiatives by the NSW Government.
Here are excerpts from the interview
Vish Viswanathan: Why did you consider India as a destination for your first international visit as Leader of the Opposition in NSW?
Luke Foley: India was chosen because of its growing importance, and the growth of the Indian community particularly in Western Sydney, the Indian culture, friendly people, trade and business opportunities for NSW – in short, a combination of all these factors.
VV: What were your most significant outcomes?
LF: We visited New Delhi and Gujarat, holding a range of meetings in Ahmadabad and Gandhi Nagar with the Gujarat Chief Minister Smt. Anandiben Patel, the Finance Minister, the Education Minister and heads of key departments in the State of Gujarat. With its population of 60 million people, the state offers tremendous opportunities to New South Wales in terms of enhancing cooperation in sectors of education, skills, sports and smart cities, including the Gujarat International Financial Tec-city (GIFT). Such a collaboration will provide tremendous opportunities for the financial sector in NSW.
VV: Exactly how will engaging with India as a fast growing economy, benefit NSW?
LF: There are many opportunities such as upskilling Indians through our TAFE educational facilities, if set up in India. Instead of students travelling to Australia for education at a high cost, setting up TAFE in India at affordable costs will be a win-win situation for both NSW and India. Water security and conservation, also energy are other opportunities that can be pursued by NSW.
VV: With increasing friendliness in Australia-India relations and a rise in tourist/business traffic, would you support the ‘visa on arrival’ proposal for Indians?
LF: This is a matter for the consideration of the Federal Government. However in principle, I support the idea. The key point here is that the relations between our two countries are growing.
VV: In relation to the NSW Budget, would you have presented it differently?
LF: As stated in my budget response in the NSW Parliament, I wish to see more opportunities explored for our TAFE in India and exporting educational services. We also should not rely upon stamp duty to generate our revenues but diversify into other sources of revenue.