Thursday, 28 June 2012
Parliamentary Delegation to Vietnam, Thailand and Singapore
As a member of the parliamentary delegation to Vietnam, Thailand and Singapore in November 2011, I join with my friend and colleague the member for Gippsland and support his remarks in the chamber today. It was a great honour for all of us to have the privilege of representing our country on a delegation such as the one we experienced. As the member for Gippsland said, it certainly is a privilege and an honour to engage with people at a very senior level in other countries and get a better understanding in a bipartisan way with fellow parliamentary colleagues of the trade and investment opportunities, and bring closer links between our countries. I, too, thank our host nations for the very warm hospitality extended to us and our partners, and I support the comments in their entirety made by the member for Gippsland about the importance of improving our relations with these ASEAN countries.
On the subject of ASEAN it is important to record that Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam comprise three of the 10 countries, the others including Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Brunei, Dar es Salaam, Lao PDR and Myanmar. When we think about that it comprises a total population in excess of 600 million people—little wonder it is a very important market for Australia. In fact, the ASEAN region is around the ninth largest export market for our country and the sixth largest source of Australian imports. ASEAN nations are very important, hence this important delegation.
I thank Sid Sidebottom, who led our delegation with very good humour and who was a great credit to our parliament, as I am sure the member for Gippsland will agree. It was not very long after he returned that the Prime Minister promoted the member for Braddon, and he is now the Parliamentary Secretary for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry. This was well deserved because he has been a very hardworking local member. To see him on the international stage leading his parliamentary colleagues was something that we will long remember.