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Monday, 6 June 1994
Page: 1321

Senator BURNS —I present the report of the Australian Parliamentary Delegation to the 14th ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Organisation, AIPO, held at Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, in September 1993, incorporating bilateral visits to the Republic of the Philippines and Brunei Darussalam. I seek leave to make some comments about that report.

  Leave granted.

Senator BURNS —I was very interested to visit the Philippines for the first time and to be instrumental, along with other parliamentarians, in further developing the friendly ties between our two nations. The assistance we were given in each of the three countries by our embassies and their staff was excellent and enabled us to be more constructive and effective as a visiting delegation. Indeed, on 19 September, along with a number of parliamentarians, including the Speaker of the Congress, we signed an agreement in principle to initiate the formation of the Philippines-Australia Parliamentary Friendship Association.

  One of the things that I noticed was a continuation of the good work that AIDAB is doing in the Asian area. It is very much targeting particular projects and seeking the advice and views of the people for whom the projects are being undertaken. We attended a public meeting in a certain area where there was a project that provided water and sewerage. The people at that meeting indicated their pleasure at being consulted about and involved in the construction of the project. I believe that our role in the Philippines and the development of our friendship is continuing apace.

  At the AIPO conference, even though we were only observers, we played an important role. We listened very intently to what was said by those nations which are part of the AIPO organisation. We had discussions with representatives of all those nations, known as a dialogue. It was agreed that we would recommend to the Australian government that it pursue agreements with the governments of the ASEAN countries for: the protection of intellectual property rights and the enforcement of such agreements; the development of tourism links in the region, including better air links; and the promotion of preventative health measures, including a common approach by the nations of the region in dealing with AIDS.

  One aspect of that dialogue which I regarded as very important and very comforting was the discussion about a dispute over the potential of petroleum products in the Spratly Island area of the South China Sea. We were assured by those countries in South-East Asia that, even though there was some disputation about ownership, they felt it could all be discussed and worked out in an amicable way without having any real conflict.

  I might say that the same indication was given to a delegation of which I was a part when we visited China some weeks ago. In the present case we had an excellent conference and it was pleasing to find that those sorts of developments were occurring and that those attitudes were held by the south-east Asian nations including China and Japan.

  Our trip to Brunei was interesting from the point of view that the country was not known to any of the delegation and everything was new to us. It became fairly obvious that it was necessary to expand our friendly ties with that country and we certainly proceeded to do that. We saw that there was an opportunity to develop trade, particularly in the area of food. We must take into account their requirements for the way in which animals are killed in our abattoirs so that the meat is acceptable to their religious beliefs.

  All in all, it was an excellent delegation which I believe will be of value to this country. We should have further delegations to those countries to develop further ties and friendship.