Tuesday, 21 August 2018
Inter-Parliamentary Union: 138th Assembly
by leave—I table and present the report of the Australian parliamentary delegation to the 138th Assembly of the Inter-Parliamentary Union, which was held in Geneva, Switzerland, from 24 to 28 March this year. I seek leave to move a motion in relation to the report.
That the Senate take note of the document.
The delegation to this session of the IPU Assembly included Senator Catryna Bilyk, who has asked to be associated with the brief words I will make on this report, and also the member for Fremantle, Mr Josh Wilson. The assembly is sort of a parliament of parliamentarians from around the world and it's always very informative. Australia is a regular participant who is well regarded. We are seen as one of the more serious and reliable nations around the world and one of the serious contributors to debate in the assembly.
There was a general debate on issues, which both Senator Bilyk and I spoke to. Mr Wilson spoke on the Standing Committee on Sustainable Development, Finance and Trade, representing Mrs Nola Marino, who is the official leader of the delegation but who couldn't make it to that conference. Mr Wilson also proposed a topic on fair trade to be debated at the next session of the conference, to be held in October this year.
It's a fairly full program. It's almost a week of continual meetings with the various sections of the Inter-Parliamentary Union, including the Twelve Plus group, which is a group that Australia is part of, as well as the Asia-Pacific Group. In addition to that, there's always opportunity to speak to other parliamentary delegations from various countries. In this particular assembly, we took the opportunity of speaking with the delegates from Ukraine.
As always we attended a meeting of delegates from the Pacific Islands nations. Australia and New Zealand have a certain obligation to try and help the Pacific Islands nations, and we do that. We meet at every conference of the IPU to try and build solidarity amongst the Asia-Pacific nations in the broader sense, and also with our Pacific Islander neighbours, and that was convened by New Zealand.
We had discussions with nations involved in the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the free trade agreement, and that was convened by Mexico. We were able to meet with most of the nations involved in the TPP and had some very useful discussions.
I will again thank the work of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, who assisted us with information. I emphasise that this is a meeting of parliamentarians, not of governments, but we do seek the assistance of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in getting information for some of the matters that are debated at this conference. The Parliamentary Library also helped in that work, and I particularly want to acknowledge the work of Ms Cat Barker on that and Raymond Knight from the IPRO, who always assists with sometimes somewhat complicated travel arrangements—getting to and from the various locations of the IPU conferences.
We don't mention her in our written report, but I specifically want to mention Toni Matulick, our secretary, who does a wonderful job in mothering us and helping us in everything that we do. It's only not mentioned in the report because Ms Matulick refuses to allow us to put it in writing. But I do, on behalf of this delegation and other delegations that I have been involved in to the IPU, particularly want to acknowledge her very considerable help and assistance in all aspects of Australia's contributions to the Inter-Parliamentary Union Assembly, as they're held. I commend the report to the Senate.
Question agreed to.