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Monday, 22 March 2004
Page: 26738

Mr BRUCE SCOTT (12:52 PM) —On behalf of the delegation to the general conference of the Council for Security Cooperation in the Asia Pacific—CSCAP—held in Jakarta between 7 and 9 December 2003, I have pleasure in presenting this report to the House. The Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade has for some time noted CSCAP's work and achievements in promoting dialogue in the areas of security and international affairs in the Asia Pacific. In April 2003 the committee visited New Zealand as part of the New Zealand parliamentary committee exchange program. As part of that visit, the committee examined in detail the objectives and achievements of CSCAP. In addition, the committee received a briefing from Australia's representatives to CSCAP about their work and the future program. CSCAP is seen as an ideal track two organisation to develop ideas and policies.

The committee considered that there would be merit in seeking approval for two members to attend the general conference of CSCAP, which was held in Jakarta between 7 and 9 December 2003. The committee was fortunate and thankful to receive support from the Minister for Foreign Affairs and from the Minister for Defence, and the approval for the visit from the Prime Minister. In addition, I would like to note the support of the Presiding Officers. The Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade was represented by Mr Price, who is the Deputy Chair of the Defence Subcommittee, and me.

CSCAP was established in 1992-93 to provide `a more structured regional process of a nongovernmental nature to contribute to the efforts towards regional confidence building, and enhancing regional security through dialogues, consultation and cooperation.' Mr Des Ball, a co-chair of Australia CSCAP, commented that CSCAP:

... confronts immense difficulties in promoting multilateral security cooperation in a world in which national interests count for more than the common good and power politics ultimately. But it is an organisation with enormous potential, comprised of representatives from the leading academic centres and other research institutes specialising in Asia-Pacific security matters, as well as government officials (retired and current) with great practical experience in international affairs involving the Asia-Pacific region.

Membership of CSCAP includes almost all countries in the Asia Pacific region. CSCAP produces a series of newsletters which contain articles on a range of current issues. The working groups are the primary mechanism for CSCAP activity. The five working groups will address confidence and security building measures, concepts of cooperative and comprehensive security, maritime cooperation, the North Pacific and transnational crime. In addition to the efforts of the working groups, a general conference is held every two years. In 2001 the general conference was held in Australia.

The theme for the 2003 general conference was the strategic outlook for the Asia Pacific. The key sessions focused on the Indonesian defence white paper, the rise of China and its impact on the Asia Pacific, developments on the Korean Peninsula, security challenges for Timor Leste, the world after the Iraq war, comprehensive measures to counter terrorism, Islam in the region, and security challenges in South-East Asia and the South Pacific. The range of speakers was diverse and included people from academia, public servants and ministers. The keynote address was given by His Excellency Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, the Indonesian Coordinating Minister for Political and Security Affairs. As part of the session on developments in the Korean Peninsula, the former Vice-Minister of Defence for the Republic of Korea, General Park Yong-Ok, addressed the conference. In relation to the security challenges facing Timor Leste, His Excellency Jose Ramos Horta, Minister for Foreign Affairs for Timor Leste, addressed the conference. Australia's Minister for Foreign Affairs, Alexander Downer, gave a luncheon address on the world after the Iraq War, which was widely reported. The discussions dealt with a range of pressing issues which affect the security of all countries in the region and more widely.

Global security has been fundamentally changed since the events of 9-11 2001, and tragically the rise of terrorism has been experienced closer to home through the Bali bombings and other terrorist atrocities. The conference therefore focused on meeting and responding to terrorism through effective counterterrorism measures. A view was conveyed at the conference that, during the 1990s, governments and intelligence organisations did not understand the level of terrorist training or the threat that it posed. The challenge now exists to develop counterterrorism measures that are effective yet sensitive to cultural and religious needs and preferences. Australia's Minister for Foreign Affairs, during his address to the conference, discussed counterterrorism and the role of Islam in the region. I present a copy of my statement. (Time expired)