Monday, 10 September 2018
Australian Parliamentary Delegation to Brazil and Chile
I present a report on the Australian Parliamentary Delegation to Brazil and Chile from 7 to 15 April 2018 and I ask leave of the House to make a short statement in connection with the report.
In presenting this report on the delegation to Brazil and Chile, I want to thank the delegation members who accompanied me on that visit. I was deputy leader of the delegation. The delegation was led by Scott Ryan as President of the Senate. I want to thank Senator David Bushby, the member for Kingsford Smith, Senator Alex Gallacher, the member for Bowman and, of course, the delegation secretary, Dr Jane Thomson, who also went on the delegation with us.
This visit to Brazil and Chile was interesting in a range of areas, but we particularly looked at trade and investment, the fiscal challenges of Brazil and Chile in relation to their ageing population and their pension and superannuation systems. We also looked at people-to-people interests—education, including tertiary education, university students, health and cybersecurity. The other interesting thing around health, which I was particularly interested in, was Chile having the highest sugar tax in the world at 18 per cent. They introduced it in 2012, but it didn't become law until 2015 to allow time to adjust. They also introduced it with some food-labelling measures at the same time. The food labelling looks at whether or not a food is high in sugar, high in salt or high in calories. What it does is it puts a black star on the food label. There has been no proper evaluation of whether or not this food tax and the food labelling is working, but, anecdotally, what was interesting is that it's the younger generation who are being affected by the food labelling and telling their parents not to buy those products. It was fascinating to get an opportunity to quiz the health officials in the bureaucracy in Chile about this system and about whether or not it's working.
We also had discussions around the education systems and around tertiary education, and it was fascinating to hear the similarities and differences between the systems of Brazil, Chile and Australia. We had a great chance to meet with parliamentary officials in both countries, and I want to thank everybody involved in the visit. I particularly want to thank the embassy officials both in Brazil and Chile, who were fabulous to us and provided us with great guidance. Importantly, they put together a jam-packed, really interesting program for us.
As you know, as very busy politicians, when you do an overseas delegation—and I've only done two in 10 years—you want to make the most of it. Your time is short, so it's always important to ensure that the discussions and meetings that you attend whilst you're on an overseas delegation are in the best interests of our country and our relations with those other countries. I want to thank staff from the International and Parliamentary Relations Office, particularly Ms Fiona Way and Mr Raymond Knight, for their support, as well as the embassies for providing such a great program. It was a busy program, but it was a very exciting program. I think everybody on the delegation learnt a lot, and I look forward to hearing about the evaluations of the health changes, particularly in Chile, in coming years and months, to see what they produce in their country. Chile has a really serious obesity challenge, as do many western countries. I look forward to hearing about that, and thank all those involved in the visit.