FTA with India could have been finalised in 2015—Tony Abbott


Former Australian PM meets with Victorian Indian community in Cranbourne 

Cranbourne: Former Australian Prime Minister Hon. Tony Abbott believes that a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with India could have been finalised had he continued in the role of Australian PM, or if the new Australian PM Hon. Malcolm Turnbull had visited India sometime in late 2015 to finalise it.

Inability to schedule the visit of an Australian PM to India later in 2015 possibly led to the FTA with India not being finalised, said Mr Abbott, but added that he hopes to see something finalised soon.

Mr Abbott was replying to a question asked by Victorian Indian resident Mr Aravind Putta during a Liberal Party fundraising breakfast in the ultra-marginal seat of Cranbourne. The event was well attended by several members of the Victorian Indian community.

Former ministerial adviser Mr Nitin Gupta said: “Indian PM Narendra Modi and Mr Abbott enjoyed a cordial relationship. And it makes sense to me what Mr Abbott said, that a Prime Ministerial visit from Australia to India in late 2015 could have possibly have led to signing of FTA with India. I am hopeful that the FTA with India would be signed soon.”

After the fundraising breakfast, Mr Abbott visited the Hunt Club Shopping Centre in Cranbourne to meet with local shoppers. He also visited few local businesses owned by Victorian Indians such as The Tadka Club and Punjabi Bazaar.

Members of the Indian community in Cranbourne raised the issue of getting funding for the Little India Cultural Precinct allocated in City of Casey on the basis of Census figures. They also raised the issue of exclusion of South Indian actress Khushbu Sundar and talented local Victorian Indian artists from the Victorian government funded Indian Film Festival of Melbourne (IFFM). Various other local issues such as Clyde Railway line extension, duplication of Thompson Road, and others were also discussed.

Dosa Hut Cranbourne had hosted complimentary morning tea for community members who had gathered to interact with Mr Abbott. Prominent Victorian Indians such as Mr Ali Mohammed (Planet Finance); AFL Ambassadors—Mrs Anchal Agarwal, Miss Madhu Rangavanshi and Mrs Jeyashree Nishtala; Mrs Neha Soudagar and Mrs Shilpa Hegde (AIBC); Babu Akula and Rajesh Yadav (AIII); and various others were present.

Mr Abbott also visited the Royal Botanic Gardens in Cranbourne, and Fountain Gate Shopping Centre in the leafy suburb of Narre Warren.


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