House debates

Monday, 18 March 2024

Delegation Reports

Australian Parliamentary Delegation to the 66th Commonwealth Parliamentary Association Conference

12:50 pm

Photo of Sharon ClaydonSharon Claydon (Newcastle, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I present the report of the Australian Parliamentary Delegation to the 66th Commonwealth Parliamentary Association Conference, held in Accra in Ghana on 5 October 2023, and I ask leave of the House to make a short statement in connection with the report.

Leave granted.

I'm delighted to present the report of the Australian Parliamentary Delegation to the 66th Commonwealth Parliamentary Association Conference held in Accra, Ghana from 1 to 5 October 2023. The delegation was led by the President of the Senate, accompanied by the member for McPherson and me. The delegation worked effectively, alongside other Australian delegates to the CPA conference from the states and territories, to advance our region's interests during the conference. In addition to the annual general assembly of the CPA, the conference included meetings of regional groups of the CPA, the Commonwealth Women Parliamentarians and the Commonwealth Parliamentarians with Disabilities network. Also held were the 39th CPA Small Branches Conference, with members from small legislators, as well as meetings of the CPA executive committee.

The theme of the 2023 conference was: The Commonwealth Charter 10 Years On: Values and Principles for Parliaments to Uphold. There were eight workshops conducted that explored this theme from all different perspectives. The President of the Senate was a panellist on the workshop considering the Latimer House principles on the separation of powers, while I was the speaker and a panel member on a youth roundtable workshop on the role of the Commonwealth in international security, peacekeeping and peace-building arrangements.

The conference's concluding statement, which is an appendix to the report, acknowledged that young people are often ignored in the decision-making and policy information and yet they really bear the brunt of the effects of big policy issues for the world, like climate change and global security. The Ghanaian youth present at the roundtable were passionate contributors to the debate and expressed their frustration about the very limited influence that they had on these matters, both in a domestic sense but also internationally. The delegation supports efforts by the CPA for more engagement with young people, and notes the next opportunity for this engagement is the next conference—that's going to be held in Sydney later this year, so Australia has a good opportunity to help lead the way here in terms of hosting a more inclusive CPA conference for young people.

With other delegates I attended the business meeting of the Commonwealth Women Parliamentarians which underlined the need to improve on reporting processes, and raised an issue around woefully inadequate time being allocated to the CWP members to not just conduct their business but also to get an agreement around the priorities that we would take before the CPA annual conference. Again, there were some good suggestions about ways that we would improve that in future CPA conferences.

On behalf of the delegation, I would like to extend our thanks to the members of the CPA Ghana branch and the parliament of Ghana, who were terrific hosts for the 66th Commonwealth Parliamentary Conference. The delegation was also very grateful to Her Excellency Berenice Owen-Jones, the Australian high commissioner in Ghana and to her staff, her amazing team, who provided very valuable briefing and support to the delegation. This included showcasing some local projects that have links to Australia and providing opportunities to better understand Ghana, its people and culture.

Finally, I'd like to thank the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade for their assistance, including the delegation secretary Jason Sherd for his sound advice and for keeping us always on track—no easy feat. I'd like to say a special thanks to the director of IPRO, Alex Cullum, who provided enormous support in the lead-up to our visit and throughout our time in Ghana, and to her staff—her terrific staff, it has to be said—for coordinating all of the arrangements.

As with previous Commonwealth Parliamentary Conferences, the 66th conference provided a valuable opportunity to reinforce ties with other Commonwealth parliaments, and we were pleased to be able to make useful contributions to debates and discussions, and to promote matters of importance to Australia. We look forward to the New South Wales parliament hosting the 67th CPA conference in Sydney. That will take place in November.

I commend the report to the House.