When India’s External Affairs Minister Dr Jaishankar addressed the Lowy Institute in Sydney last month, it was significant for two reasons. It was his second trip to Australia this year – he described his personal pride in the bilateral relationship “picking up steam very, very rapidly”. And his visit, coincidently, came on the eve of Australia’s Indo-Pacific Endeavour defence task group – the largest yet – departing for the Indian east coast city of Visakhapatnam.
One might reasonably ask: if Australia wanted to send a reciprocal diplomatic message of friendship to India, would it not be logical to send Foreign Minister Penny Wong? To wit: by plane? Why send HMAS Adelaide and ANZAC on the two-and-a-half-week journey via Sri Lanka, with an impressive embarked amphibious force of Australian Army, helicopters and vehicles, plus defence civilians, Border Force representatives and academic guests? (As one of the latter, it was a question this writer had ample time to ponder.)