House debates

Monday, 26 March 2018

Delegation Reports

Australian Parliamentary Delegation to the 26th Asia-Pacific Parliamentary Forum

3:44 pm

Photo of Tim HammondTim Hammond (Perth, Australian Labor Party, Shadow Minister for Consumer Affairs) Share this | | Hansard source

I present the report of the Australian Parliamentary Delegation to the 26th annual meeting of the Asia-Pacific Parliamentary Forum, held in Hanoi, Vietnam from 18 to 21 January 2018. I ask leave of the House to make a short statement in connection with the report.

Leave granted.

It gives me tremendous pleasure to present the report of the Australian Parliamentary Delegation to the 26th annual meeting of the Asia-Pacific Parliamentary Forum, held in Vietnam from 18 to 21 January 2018. I had the great honour of participating in that delegation, which was led by Senator Williams from the other place and also included the hardworking members for Wright and Whitlam. I'm delighted to see the member for Wright here. His perseverance and tenacity in seeing this through to its end was only matched by his perseverance and tenacity in a number of the plenary sessions.

The APPF is an assembly of members of national parliaments in the Asia-Pacific region which has met each year since 1993 to discuss matters of mutual concern. The issues the APPF deal with are mainly strategic, economic, social and cultural in nature. The APPF is important to the Australian parliament as a parliamentary association of members who share Australia's region. Key regional countries with which Australia has strong links send delegations to APPF meetings. These countries include Canada, China, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, South Korea, Thailand, a number of Pacific island countries and, of course—not to be outdone—our wonderful hosts, Vietnam.

Each conference is structured around a number of plenary sessions, working groups, and a drafting committee that considers a range of resolutions arising from the discussions. Participating countries submit draft resolutions that form the basis of the discussion sessions, and subsequent conference resolutions are finalised through consensus. The sessions were under the themes of political and security matters, economic and trade matters, and regional cooperation.

Reflecting the commensurate levels of hard work done by all delegates, four draft resolutions forwarded by the Australian delegation reflected those interests of the delegation members. Senator Williams took carriage of a resolution on food security in the Asia-Pacific region. He met a number of officials from the Vietnamese department of agriculture and prosecuted the case most admirably, I must say. The member for Wright devoted much time, energy and tenacity, speaking on combating international terrorism and trans-border crime. He also chaired a working group debating regional security matters of some complexity, I must say. The member for Whitlam—again, not to be outdone—spoke very eloquently on the importance of fostering regional tourism cooperation, and also chaired a working group on economic cooperation in the region.

At the forum I was most privileged to be invited to attend the regular meeting of women parliamentarians as a representative of the Australian parliament. This reflected the long tradition of advocacy by Australian delegations to the APPF to give female parliamentarians a greater say in APPF deliberations and in the region generally. I am pleased to report that the APPF unanimously passed a resolution establishing a meeting of women parliamentarians as a standing item of future APPF meetings. I also attended working party meetings and represented the delegation on the drafting committee.

In comparison to the numbers in some national delegations, it's true the Australian delegation was comparatively small. But what we lacked in numbers we made up for in tenacity, dedication and attention to detail. It meant that we did have a busy schedule, contributing to as many of the sessions as humanly possible. The forum provided an excellent opportunity for us to forge links with our parliamentary colleagues in the region and to discuss the many issues we have of common concern.

On behalf of the delegation, I would like to thank the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade for assistance with briefing papers for the forum meetings, and for the support provided in Vietnam by the Australian ambassador and his colleagues. The Parliamentary Library also provided most useful briefing material, which all of the delegation found incredibly valuable.

Special mention at this point must go to our very own Mr Catchpole, the delegation secretary, who dedicated much time and attention to ensuring the delegation was kept on track, on time and on budget and turned up to where it needed to be. And, of course, we must also thank our very hospitable hosts, the National Assembly of Vietnam. Our thanks, in particular, go to the President of the National Assembly and her staff. Our hosts were exceptionally generous in their welcome and their hospitality. It was obvious that a tremendous effort had been made to ensure the event was a success. Special mention should also be made of support staff and student volunteers who were unfailingly helpful and enthusiastic and helped make the forum a most successful event indeed. I commend the report to the House.