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Monday, 19 March 2018
Page: 1425

Senator WILLIAMS (New South WalesNationals Whip in the Senate) (16:01): by leave—I present the report of the Australian parliamentary delegation to the 26th annual meeting of the Asia Pacific Parliamentary Forum, held in Hanoi, Vietnam, which took place from 18 to 21 January 2018. I seek leave to move a motion in relation to the report.

Leave granted.

Senator WILLIAMS: I move:

That the Senate take note of the document.

It gives me great pleasure to present the report of the Australian parliamentary delegation to the 26th annual meeting of the Asia Pacific Parliamentary Forum, held in Vietnam from 18 to 21 January this year. I had the honour of leading the delegation, which included the members for Perth, Whitlam and Wright from the House.

The Asia Pacific Parliamentary Forum is an assembly of members of national parliaments in the Asia-Pacific region which has met each year since 1993 to discuss matters of mutual concern. Issues the APPF deals with are mainly strategic, economic, social and cultural in nature. The APPF is important to the Australian parliament as the parliamentary association of members who share Australia's region. Key regional countries with which Australia has strong links send delegations to the APPF annual meetings. Such countries include Canada, China, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, South Korea, Thailand, a number of Pacific island countries and our host, Vietnam. Each conference is structured around a number of plenary sessions, working groups and a drafting committee that considers a range of resolutions arising from the discussions. Participating countries submit draft resolutions that form the basis of the discussion of sessions and subsequent conference resolutions finalised through consensus. The sessions are under the themes of political and security matters, economic and trade matters and regional cooperation.

The four draft resolutions forwarded by the Australian delegation reflect the interests of the delegation members. I took carriage of a resolution on food security in the Asia-Pacific region. I met a number of officials from the Vietnamese department of agriculture. The member for Wright spoke on combatting international terrorism and transporter crime and also chaired a working group debating regional security matters. The member for Whitlam spoke on the importance of fostering regional tourism cooperation and also chaired a working group on economic cooperation in the region. The member for Perth continued the long tradition of advocacy by Australian delegations to the APPF for giving female parliamentarians a greater say in APPF deliberations and in the region generally. I'm pleased to report that the APPF unanimously passed a resolution establishing a meeting of female parliamentarians as a standing item of future APPF meetings. The Australian delegation was small in comparison to the numbers in some national delegations. This meant we had a busy schedule, contributing to as many of the sessions as possible. The forum provided an excellent opportunity for us to forge links with our parliamentary colleagues in the region and to discuss issues of common concern.

On behalf of the delegation, I would like to thank the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade for assistance with briefing papers for the forum meetings and for the support provided in Vietnam by the Australian ambassador and his colleagues. The Parliamentary Library also provided briefing material which the delegation found very useful. Of course, we must also thank our very hospitable hosts, the National Assembly of Vietnam. Our thanks go, in particular, to the President of the National Assembly, Mrs Nguyen Ngan, and her staff. Our hosts were exceptionally generous in their welcome and hospitality. It was obvious that a tremendous effort had been made to ensure the event was a success. Special mention should also be made of the support staff and student volunteers, who were unfailingly helpful and enthusiastic and who helped make the forum successful. A special thankyou to Mr James Catchpole, the Serjeant-at-Arms in the other place. Mr Catchpole was brilliant with his communication and his organisation, and his friendship was enjoyed by all who attended. I commend the report to the Senate.

Question agreed to.