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Monday, 22 March 2004
Page: 26740

Mr PRICE (12:57 PM) —I rise to support the remarks of the honourable member for Maranoa in relation to the CSCAP conference. CSCAP—the Council for Security Cooperation in the Asia Pacific—is a nongovernment organisation established to provide a dialogue on security issues in the Asia Pacific region. Basically, it was established to complement government discussions on security. As a nongovernment organisation it utilises the expertise of academics, private security experts and specialists.

The idea for CSCAP first emerged in November 1992 when representatives of two dozen strategic studies centres from 10 different countries, including Australia, decided it would be in their mutual interest to establish `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.' Just over eight months later, on 8 June 1993, CSCAP was formally established at a meeting in Kuala Lumpur. The CSCAP charter was endorsed at a meeting in Lombok in December of that year and subsequently amended in August 1995.

The 10 original countries with full membership status were Australia, Canada, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and the United States, and in the intervening years they have been joined by China, New Zealand, North Korea, Russia, Vietnam, Cambodia, Papua New Guinea and the European Union, while India has associate member status and the Pacific Islands Forum is an observer. CSCAP activities are guided by a steering committee which meets twice a year and is co-chaired by one ASEAN and one non-ASEAN member nation, currently Singapore and Canada. I would like to congratulate our Indonesian hosts on the success of the CSCAP conference in Jakarta. As the member for Maranoa has said, the opening address was given by Bambang Yudhoyono, the minister for security.

The working groups of CSCAP are the primary mechanism for its operation. Topics include confidence- and security-building measures, concepts of cooperation and comprehensive security, maritime cooperation, the North Pacific and transnational crime. The key sessions of the conference that the member for Maranoa and I were able to attend were those 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.

One of the great advantages of CSCAP is that it is a track two organisation, so ideas and solutions which are sometimes difficult for ministers and governments to embrace first off can be canvassed by the participants. It is a very successful organisation and one that is strongly supported by the Australian government. In that respect, I would like to thank the Minister for Defence and the Minister for Foreign Affairs for the opportunity to be in Jakarta.

The highlight for me was seeing our American friends and representatives from North Korea in one session at the front table arguing strongly about what was happening in the Korean peninsula and, in the next session, sitting alongside one another and chatting quite amiably. One would never have thought that that was possible, given the earlier session. I strongly support the concept that Australia, through members of parliament, should be represented at the next CSCAP conference. I thought it was of great benefit both to me and to the honourable member for Maranoa.