Tuesday, 23 May 2023
Australian Parliamentary Delegation to the 146th Assembly of the Inter-Parliamentary Union, Manama, Bahrain
I'm pleased to present the report of the Australian Parliamentary Delegation to the 146th Inter-Parliamentary Union Assembly held in Manama, Bahrain from 11 to 15 March 2023. It was a great honour and privilege to lead this delegation. Travelling alongside me as part of the Australian delegation was Senator the Hon. Linda Reynolds CSC; the member for Leichhardt, the Hon. Warren Entsch MP; Senator Fatima Payman; and the member for Robertson, Dr Gordon Reid MP.
The theme of the assembly was promoting peaceful coexistence and inclusive societies: fighting intolerance. This theme is a high priority here in Australia. All members of the delegation played an active and vital role at various proceedings of the assembly. The delegation attended formal sessions and participated in the governing council. This year Australia became the chair of the Asia-Pacific group. The delegation also participated in meetings of the 12-plus geopolitical group, as well as the Forum of Women Parliamentarians and various standing committees. As chair of the Asia-Pacific group I spoke about my intention to work closely with all members of the group to ensure they have an equal opportunity to engage, particularly the Pacific member states.
During the assembly I contributed to general debate on the topic of promoting peaceful coexistence and inclusive societies and fighting intolerance. I drew attention to the high-level support for ethnic diversity and multiculturalism in Australia. This gives our society a significant advantage in responding to the pressures placed on social cohesion, particularly intolerance and exclusion, which can be flamed by misinformation and disinformation. I also noted over the last few years that ideologically motivated violent extremism, mostly nationalist and racist violent extremism, accounted for approximately 50 per cent of the Australian intelligence organisation's domestic counterterrorism case load. Senator Payman contributed as a young parliamentarian on behalf of the Australian delegation, emphasising the importance for the Australian parliament to listen to the views of the more than three million young people in Australia, who make up 15 per cent of the population.
Australia also put forward a proposal regarding measures to combat orphan trafficking and tourism to the standing committee on democracy and human rights, which will be debated and endorsed at the next assembly in Luanda, Angola in October 2023. I thank Senator Reynolds for all of her hard work on this matter.
The Inter-Parliamentary Union is a unique opportunity for delegations and individual parliamentarians to meet and discuss issues of mutual interest. The Australian delegation had 12 bilateral meetings—with Ukraine and other Pacific group member delegations, including Bangladesh, Cambodia, India, Japan, Malaysia, Maldives, Nepal, Laos, Singapore and Thailand.
On behalf of the Australian delegation I'd like to acknowledge the Australian Ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Mr Mark Donovan; Mr Jason Moore, Second Secretary and Vice Consul at the Australian Embassy in Saudi Arabia; the Australian Ambassador to the United Arab Emirates, Ms Heidi Venamore PSM; and Ms Petra Aitken from Visits and Public Diplomacy. The delegation also acknowledges the staff of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in Canberra who provided background briefing materials, including Ms Jennifer Grosch.
I extend our thanks to the Parliamentary Library, in particular Mr Nigel Brew and his colleagues, who provided important briefing materials to the delegations, who were extremely helpful and informative. The delegation deeply appreciated the assistance and support of the International and Parliamentary Relations Office, with Ms Aleshia Westgate and Ms Kim Bulman deserving special mention for their tireless efforts to arrange travel and accommodation.
Finally, the delegation would also like to acknowledge and thank Ms Elise Williamson and the delegation secretary, Dr Jane Thomson, from the Department of the Senate. I commend the report to the House.