Thursday, 13 February 2020
Statement by the Speaker
Asia Pacific Parliamentary Forum
on indulgence—It's a little bit like a self-congratulatory club! But thank you, member for Menzies, for the work you did in leading the delegation. It was an absolute honour to be part of a delegation hosting the Asia-Pacific Parliamentary Forum in its 28th year. I want to congratulate you, Mr Speaker, on taking on the role and on your election as president. And, while the 28th APPF covered a raft of topics, as you've both mentioned, I want to raise the important work the forum did for women in our region. For the second time, the APPF hosted a meeting of women parliamentarians. This meeting had many speeches, including from the first female Speaker of the Indonesian House of Representatives. The central meeting was chaired by our own Deputy President, Senator Sue Lines, who did a superb job across the conference reaching out to other women and reaching out to other countries to ensure that we were building relationships outside of the conference room through the working parties.
Among the other important things that happened there was that the delegates noted that, while member countries were making progress in this space for women, there is still more work to be done—in economic participation, in education and health, in political empowerment in particular and of course in eradicating violence against women. The APPF passed three resolutions particular to women: promoting gender equality for a sustainable development and shared prosperity; realising the 2030 agenda for sustainable development; improving access for women and girls to education, innovation and technology—and I know my colleagues here today are interested in that space—and also promoting gender equality and women's empowerment in decision-making at all levels in our countries.
These resolutions were drafted by the working group of the women parliamentarian meeting that was chaired proudly by the member for Calwell, a long-serving female parliamentarian here. This also calls on the APPF to consider its own rules to ensure gender equity in the executive committee. This was a pivotal moment in the history of the APPF, and the women's meeting, which has only been running for two years, worked collaboratively to have that agenda item progressed. I look forward, Mr Speaker, as do my colleagues, to working with you as president to progress this agenda at the 29th APPF in the republic of Korea in Seoul. I will also mention the importance of having our Pacific neighbours there with observer status at this conference. We also on this side look forward to working with you, Mr Speaker, as president to ensure that their participation is enhanced and that they're supported.
The wonderful achievements can be attributed to the fact that this APPF had over 40 women parliamentarian delegates, including an all-female delegation from Mexico that was an absolute delight. As someone who has been to previous conferences, particularly one conference where sadly I was the only female in the Australian delegation, it was an absolute pleasure to work with so many of our colleagues across the chamber at this conference. I was pleased to see the respect that the Australian female parliamentarians were given in our briefings and the support we were given by the member for Menzies and from you, Mr Speaker, in pushing our agenda forward. I look forward to perhaps participating in the next APPF conference. I'd join with both of you in thanking all of the staff from this parliament and all of the public servants in the department of foreign affairs who worked so hard to make what could have been a compromised conference so successful.