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Monday, 22 May 2006
Page: 1

Mr CADMAN (12:31 PM) —I present the report of the Australian parliamentary delegation to the 14th annual meeting of the Asia Pacific Parliamentary Forum, held in Jakarta from 15 to 20 January 2006 and Papua New Guinea from 21 to 25 January 2006. As the leader of the delegation, I am pleased to present this report and note the presence in the chamber and gallery of my colleagues who were on that delegation—Senators Sterle and McEwen and the member for Kingston.

The APPF has great significance for Australia. It is an assembly of members of 27 national parliaments in the Asia-Pacific region which has met each January since 1993 to discuss matters of mutual concern. Its member countries include the United States, China, Russia and Japan. Australia has traditionally played a substantial role in these meetings, which provide a valuable opportunity for us, as members of parliament, to have discussions on matters of common interest with colleagues from the wider region.

The formal objectives of the forum ensure that annual meetings provide opportunities for us, as parliamentarians, to:

  • deepen our understanding of the interests and policy concerns of countries in the region;
  • examine the major political, social and cultural developments resulting from economic growth and integration; and
  • foster the roles we have as national parliamentarians to promote regional cohesion and cooperation.

As is customary at APPF annual meetings, the agenda had a regional focus. It was framed around three main subjects: political and security issues, economic and trade issues, and regional cooperation. The delegation’s report discusses the resolutions proposed by Australia and the delegation’s contributions to debate and negotiation. The three resolutions we proposed addressed:

  • international terrorism, which was debated by Senator Sterle;
  • poverty alleviation and the Millennium Development Goals, covered by Senator McEwen; and
  • pandemic disease, on which I spoke.

The member for Kingston spoke on cooperation on empowering the economies of the developing and least developed countries.

As well as participating in debate in the plenary, the delegation took a very active role in all formal meetings of the drafting committee and in a number of its informal meetings, where we negotiated the text of draft resolutions. The delegation also participated in a number of very successful meetings, including ones with President Yudhoyono and the Speaker of the Indonesian House of Representatives, Mr Laksono.

Apart from the APPF activities, the delegation was delighted to be able to visit a World Food Program project that operates at a primary school in East Jakarta and is supported by AusAID. We were also pleased to meet participants in an Australian-Muslim exchange delegation.

Following the APPF meeting, the delegation travelled to Papua New Guinea, where it participated in meetings and visits in Port Moresby, Goroka, Kundiawa and Mount Hagen between 21 and 25 January. Although our time was brief, we met a range of people and gained an understanding of the issues that are important to them. We also learned something of their perspective on Australia and its relationship with their country.

We were grateful for the preparations by the APPF organising committee and staff of the Indonesian House of Representatives. Their hospitality was exceptional. On behalf of the delegation, I wish to express our gratitude to the Australian Ambassador to Indonesia, Mr Bill Farmer, and to Steven Barraclough from the Australian Embassy in Jakarta.

In Papua New Guinea we also received impressive support, and for this I particularly wish to thank the Australian High Commissioner, Mr Michael Potts, and Tim Paterson. I also wish to mention Dame Carol Kidu, who was kind enough to arrange some informal discussions and to accompany us in Port Moresby when we visited the parliament and local settlements.

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade helped to prepare us, with excellent advice and briefing material, as did the Parliamentary Library. I also wish to thank the Parliamentary Relations Office, which assisted with these arrangements. The delegation is grateful for the support we received from Mr Philip McDonald of the Australian Federal Police, who accompanied us in both countries. In conclusion, I wish to thank my fellow members of parliament for their support as delegation members. We were Australians through and through and worked as a great team. I want to thank them for their involvement. (Time expired)

Mr Cadman —Mr Speaker, I have here a letter from you relating to the report. I wonder whether it would be possible to have your letter, which would be helpful to future delegations of this type, incorporated in Hansard.

The SPEAKER —I thank the member for Mitchell. That is outside the normal guidelines but, given the relevance of the letter, I would be happy to allow that to proceed.

The letter read as follows—

22 MAY 2606

Speaker of the House of Representatives

The Hon David Hawker MP

The Hon Alan Cadman MP

Member for Mitchell

Parliament House


Dear Mr Cadman

Thank you for your letter of 10 March 2006 regarding the parliamentary delegation that attended the Asia-Pacific Parliamentary Forum and conducted a bilateral visit to Papua New Guinea in January this year.

I am grateful for the feedback that you have provided on the delegation, as it will be useful in the planning of future delegation visits. I would like to respond to a few of the points you have raised.

You will be pleased to note that a bilateral visit to Indonesia has been included in the outgoing delegations programme for 2006. The bilateral visit is currently scheduled for September. Those responsible for arranging the visit program have been advised about the importance of including visits to AusAID projects.

I have also noted your suggestion about a possible visit to Australia by the Indonesian Speaker. The Parliamentary Relations Office has been in contact with the Australian Embassy in Indonesia and the advice that we have received is that Indonesia would not be in a position to send a delegation this year but is looking at a visit to Australia in the first half of 2007.

On the issue of continuity raised in your letter, I note that the practice in recent times has been for the delegation secretary to the APPF delegation to be the same for the life of the Parliament. As to continuity of delegation membership, the selection of delegates is a matter for the whips, and you may wish to raise the issue with your whip.

On the timing of the bilateral visit to Papua New Guinea, the outgoing delegations programme is developed with advice from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. The Parliament is reliant on that advice in relation to suitable timing for visits, taking into consideration other visits that need to be accommodated in the year’s programme. One factor that made the visit to Papua New Guinea shorter than usual for a bilateral visit was the proximity of Australia Day and the general desire of delegates to be in their electorates on that day.

I have noted your views on the timing of visits and have informed relevant officers of your concerns. The timing of the APPF in January always makes it more difficult to conduct a bilateral visit in conjunction with attendance at the APPF. Nevertheless it has been the usual practice of the Presiding officers to provide the opportunity for a bilateral visit with this delegation, to maximise the benefits for this delegation and for the Parliament.

I share your view on the significance of Papua New Guinea to Australia’s future. I believe regular contact between parliamentarians of both countries is important. As such, I will be looking to include another bilateral visit to Papua New Guinea in the outgoing delegations programme in the near future.

Once again thank you for your letter and your valuable comments.

Yours sincerely

David Hawker,