Australia remains 'engaged' after India concerns raised


Australia is keeping a close diplomatic eye on developments around Canada linking the Indian government to the murder of a Sikh separatist leader.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said his government had expelled a senior Indian intelligence official after linking Indian agents to the shooting of Hardeep Singh Nijjar in Canada in June.

New Delhi has denied the claims.

Senator Wong told reporters on the sidelines of the United Nations conference in New York that Australia has been "monitoring these developments with partners closely we will continue to do so".

"I'm not going to go into any further detail on that," she said, after confirming concerns had been raised with the Indian government.

"What I'd note is that these allegations are still being investigated, so I would recognise that but more broadly, I would say this - we take the view, as a government, that Australian democracy is precious."

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese didn't confirm whether he had spoken to his Canadian counterpart directly, only saying: "I do have discussions with Prime Minister Trudeau."

He also refused to speculate on intelligence received by partners including Canada about the credibility of the allegations and links.

"We don't talk about security briefings from Five Eyes," he told reporters in Newcastle.

The Five Eyes security grouping includes Australia, New Zealand, the US, the UK and Canada.

Asked about whether Australia was concerned about foreign interference on its own soil, Senator Wong said the nation was a "robust democracy" and that the Indian diaspora had a range of views.

"We have made clear in relation to democratic debate in Australia that the norm, the peaceful expression of different views, is a key part of Australia's democracy," she said.

Her comments came after Mr Albanese earlier told a reporter to "chill out a bit" when asked whether he regretted calling Indian prime minister a "boss" when he visited Australia.

The prime minister's remarks were made when he and his counterpart were at Sydney's Qudos Bank Arena in May, where musician Bruce Springsteen - nicknamed "the boss" - had previously played.

Mr Albanese said the remark came after Australia's broad-based Indian diaspora "welcomed him very strongly" and he welcomed Mr Modi as he would other guests to Australia.