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Thursday, 17 June 2010
Page: 5695

The SPEAKER (9:01 AM) —As leader of the delegation, I present the report of the Australian Parliamentary Delegation to the 18th Annual Meeting of the Asia Pacific Parliamentary Forum, held in Singapore from 17 to 23 January 2010. The delegation comprised the father of the House, the member for Berowra, as deputy leader; the member for Deakin; and Senators Ian Macdonald and Glenn Sterle.

I first attended the APPF in 1998 and have witnessed its development over the years and understand its relevance to the Australian parliament. The countries that participate in the APPF matter to Australia because of our strategic and economic interests. So each January for the past 18 years members of the Australian parliament have joined with members of other national parliaments in the Asia-Pacific region to discuss matters of common interest. With such a broad membership, it is inevitable that there are varied perspectives on many issues raised at the annual meetings. But I think it is fair to say that participants endeavour to treat each others’ views with respect. Therefore, one of the principal outcomes of the meetings is that a measure of understanding is gained of the views and interests of regional neighbours. The matters addressed at the Singapore meeting were along the same lines as in the past. They can be grouped under three broad headings: economic and trade matters, political and security issues, and interparliamentary cooperation within the region.

I will turn now, briefly, to the substance of the meeting. The delegation proposed resolutions on terrorism, energy security, the global economic situation and trade liberalisation, and regional collaboration on social measures in the economic downturn. We were also involved in the discussions in the plenary on agenda items such as climate change and the APEC meeting in 2009. The delegation fully participated in all sessions of the drafting committee, where draft resolutions were settled before they were returned to the plenary for adoption at the final session. At that final session 14 resolutions were adopted.

As might be expected in an organisation that has been operating for so many years, there are issues that need to be reviewed from time to time. At the Singapore meeting some delegations raised issues relating to the APPF’s rules and their interpretation. I am pleased that steps have been taken by the APPF to consult member countries about possible reforms. The proposals that are received will be considered at the next annual meeting, which will be held in Mongolia in January next year.

In preparation for the meeting, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in Canberra assisted with comprehensive briefing materials and advice and with the drafting of resolutions. The Parliamentary Library assisted with valuable briefing material, and the Parliamentary Relations Office provided administrative support. The delegation appreciates all their assistance.

On behalf of the delegation, I would like to thank the Australian High Commission representatives in Singapore: the High Commissioner, Mr Doug Chester; the Deputy High Commissioner, Ms Penny Burtt; and the First Secretary, Dr Anton Alblas. Their briefings were very helpful. The hospitality offered by Mr Chester gave us an opportunity to build on our relationships with Singaporean members of parliament and others in Singapore who have ties to Australia. Dr Alblas provided additional assistance to us, including arranging meetings, at our request, with the Ministry of Finance, the waste management department and the Singapore Marina Barrage and accompanying us throughout those meetings.

I thank the delegation secretary, Catherine Cornish, for her diligence and support, and my senior adviser, Christopher Paterson, especially for his assistance in the workings of the drafting committee. I thank the deputy leader, the member for Berowra, and all members of the delegation and their accompanying spouses. I believe we represented the parliament effectively.