Sydney, May 23 (PTI) Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said on Tuesday that his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi gets a “rock star reception” wherever he goes, as he welcomed his “dear friend” at an event here and compared him to American singer Bruce Springsteen.
Albanese pitched for greater cooperation between India and Australia as he welcomed Modi to a roaring 21,000-strong crowd at the Qudos Bank Arena here, one of the city’s biggest indoor stadiums.
He gave Modi a bear hug when the Indian prime minister arrived at the venue to address the audience before introducing him as someone who “gets a rock star reception wherever he goes”.
“The last time I saw someone on this stage was Bruce Springsteen and he did not get the welcome that Prime Minister Modi has got. Prime Minister Modi is the boss,” Albanese said at the event.
He thanked his “dear friend” Modi for “bringing the spirit of the world’s biggest democracy to Australia”, saying he had helped “make our democracy stronger and more inclusive.”
He described the cheering audience, made up mainly of members of the Australian-Indian community, as friends and said he was proud they had made Australia their home.
“You make our nation and our shared communities better. You make Australia stronger,” he said.
Playing up India and Australia’s connections, Albanese said he wanted to see the relationship between the two countries continue to grow, including in the business and education sectors.
“We want to see more connections. More Australian and Indian students living and studying in each other’s countries, and bringing those experiences home,” he said.
“More business leaders and artists and families sharing your experiences and your knowledge and your ideas,” he added.
Albanese said he was reminded of his earlier visits to India as a 28-year-old when he returned to the country earlier this year as prime minister.
“It was a trip full of unforgettable moments: celebrating Holi in Gujarat, laying a wreath for the great Mahatma Gandhi in New Delhi, and doing a lap of the incredible stadium at Ahmedabad on Day 1 of the fourth test,” he said.
“Everywhere I went, I felt that deep sense of connection between the people of Australia and the people of India. It’s a warmth I felt when I backpacked around India for 5 weeks in 1991 if you want to understand India, travel by train and video bus,” he said.
Albanese and Modi on Tuesday night announced the inaugural advisory board for the Centre for Australia-India Relations, which the federal government announced its plans to establish earlier this year.
Headquartered in Parramatta, the centre’s mission is to work across government, industry, academia and the community to further foster ties between the two countries and encourage businesses to “seize the opportunities” of their economic partnership, news.com.au reported.
Albanese said the centre’s location in western Sydney was a “testament to the vitality of the Indian-Australian experience”, giving a shout-out to the new Parramatta Lord Mayor Sameer Pandey.
Pandey was elected to the position just a day earlier, becoming the first Lord Mayor in Australia to be born in India.
Modi’s trip to Australia comes after he met with Albanese, US President Joe Biden and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida on the sidelines of the G7 summit in Hiroshima on the weekend.