Australian High Commissioner Barry O’Farrell emphasises Quad’s positive agenda for Indo-Pacific

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MAY 9, 2023

Australian High Commissioner to India, Barry O’Farrell, has emphasised the importance of the Quad in ensuring peace and security in the Indo-Pacific region.

In an interview with WION ahead of the Quad summit in Sydney on May 24, he said, “Quad is a practical formation of four countries determined to deliver peace, prosperity, and security to the Indo-Pacific. It has a practical and positive agenda which is open to all countries in the region who are prepared to abide by the rules.”

O’Farrell highlighted that initiatives in Quad are designed to deliver the security that any country in the Indo-Pacific needs to make its own decisions, free of coercion with full sovereignty. He also welcomed Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Australia, stating,

“It’s terrific that PM Modi is making his first visit to Australia since 2014. That was a remarkable last visit with large crowds which signifies how strong the relationship is.”

The Australian High Commissioner also praised the Indian diaspora in Australia, calling them “remarkably resilient, cohesive, and productive.” He added that they are fulfilling roles across society and are the fastest-growing overseas-born migrant group in Australia.

Regarding recent incidents of Khalistani violence in Australia, O’Farrell said that the security forces, along with the police, will do everything possible to track down those responsible and prosecute them. He also reiterated that Australia respects India’s sovereignty and that unofficial referendums in Australia have “no legal status.”

Responding to China’s criticism of the Quad as an “Asian NATO,” O’Farrell said, “Quad is a diplomatic alliance, not a military alliance. There is no intention on the part of Australia to turn the Quad into an Indo-Pacific NATO. Quad works constructively together to ensure that other countries in the region are able to make their own choices and are not subject to coercion.”

Regarding the expansion of the Quad, he said, “You don’t need to expand the Quad as whatever the Quad does is done transparently, is shared not just with Asian partners but with countries across the region, including the Pacific Islands. So, in a sense, the Quad is applicable to all of those countries in the Indo-Pacific region who are simply prepared to sign up and abide by the international rules and norms.”

When asked about China’s aggressive actions in the region, O’Farrell stressed the importance of dialogue and continuing to talk through issues.

“Just because we talk to them doesn’t mean that we will surrender our sovereignty. We will continue to agree where we can and disagree where we must, but all times we’ll protect our national interest,” he said.

On the upcoming G20 meeting in Srinagar, O’Farrell said that Australia is committed to providing the strongest possible representation at all working groups and meetings.

He praised India’s efforts in preparing for the meeting, stating, “I have seen the convention centre where the meeting will take place, and I’m sure that it will continue to prove successful as India seeks to deal with practical issues which the world is struggling with post-Covid.”

India is the chair of the G20 grouping and is hosting a number of meetings, with the summit slated for September.


Courtesy/Source: WION