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Australian MPs engage with NATO

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THE HON JOEL FITZGIBBON MP MEMBER FOR HUNTER CHIEF GOVERNMENT WHIP ___________________________________________________________

30 March 2012


A group of six Australian Members of Parliament have just completed a series of meetings and briefings with the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) in Brussels and Mons, Belgium.

MPs, Joel Fitzgibbon, Michael Danby, Nola Marino, Alex Hawke and Senators Anne McEwen and Gary Humphries were guests of NATO. They spent three days at NATO Headquarters and at the Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers in Europe (SHAPE).

Delegation leader, the Hon Joel Fitzgibbon MP, said the visit reflected Australia’s deepening relationship with NATO.

“While not a formal member of NATO, Australia’s partnership with NATO is an increasingly important one that provides mutual benefits” said Mr Fitzgibbon.

“Our current key mutual interest is Afghanistan and it is important that, as a NATO partner, Australia has a seat at the table where decisions are made and planning is undertaken”.

“It is also important for Australia to work with NATO on our shared security interests in emerging areas such as cyber security, terrorism and piracy”.

“Our meetings with NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen and other high level leaders left us in no doubt NATO appreciates Australia’s vital contribution to Afghanistan and to discourse about broader global security issues” said Mr Fitzgibbon.

“We also witnessed the high level of engagement and access that Australia’s Ambassador to NATO, HE Dr Brendan Nelson, has in Europe. Ambassador Nelson is an influential advocate for Australia”.

The Australian MPs challenged NATO officials on a range of issues in Afghanistan and Central Asia more generally.

“We now look forward to the outcomes of the 2012 NATO Summit in Chicago in May” said Mr Fitzgibbon.

As a result of the visit the delegation plans to set up an Australia - NATO Parliamentary Friendship group.

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Joel Fitzgibbon “Fitzhunter”

Contact: Christine Boyd 0488 654 527