Tuesday, 27 November 2012
Australian Parliamentary Delegation to the 33rd ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Assembly
I present the report of the Australian Parliamentary Delegation to the 33rd AIPA general assembly from 16 to 22 September 2012, and I ask leave of the House to make a short statement in connection with the report.
I am pleased to address the report and to make comments on the Parliamentary Delegation to the 33rd general assembly of the ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Assembly, which was held in Lombok, Indonesia, from 16 to 22 September 2012. I would like to thank at the outset the head of the delegation, Senator Singh, and the delegation secretary, Peggy Danaee. Ms Danaee did a great job of looking after the two of us, and I would say that the in-country administration is very smooth and made the delegation's work very much easier. I also thank her for this outstanding report.
I will not continue on the administrative detail but will concentrate purely on the work of the assembly. Australia is one of a number of observer nations that have regularly participated in these ASEAN interparliamentary assemblies. In many ways, the regular and consistent participation by Australia acknowledges and provides respect to our ASEAN neighbours. Clearly, when we look at the trade, agricultural and financial interactions we have with ASEAN countries, the region is of such importance that we must engage with them at every level possible. At the diplomatic level and at the executive level we are already represented, but the parliamentary level needs to have the one-on-one collaboration that such assemblies provide.
Apart from such interactions, it was also useful to closely watch the interactions between the ASEAN members. Even in the introductory speeches from delegations there was an opportunity to identify more pointed language and commentary about other members and about internal matters in other nations. It was notable that concerns about money laundering and the pursuit of a drug-free ASEAN region were also confirmed in the committee reports at the end of the conference, and Australia should take heart from this recognition. Also, it is clear that Australia should never engage in any legalisation of illicit drugs, as we do not want to distance ourselves from our near neighbours and be seen as weak in resolve in the region.
The other specific agenda item of note was the dialogue between the Australian delegation and the ASEAN representatives. It was unfortunate that control of the meeting was suboptimal, resulting in not all agenda items being covered. It was clear from the formal nature of the meeting that the need to have formal opening remarks was not made clear in our preparations in Canberra.
Madam Deputy Speaker, can I just ask a question of you. I was led to believe that I would get five minutes for this. Would it be possible for me, given that the time is expended, to have my speech adopted rather than delay the House any further? There is nothing of a political nature in it.
I do not think that that has been the custom of the House. I have to say that that is not usually what happens, so I am not able to agree to that. That is not customary. Unfortunately, your time has expired. You have sought leave. Is leave granted?