Thursday, 14 February 2013
Asia-Pacific Parliamentary Forum
I present the report of the Australian Parliamentary Delegation to the twenty-first annual meeting of the Asia-Pacific Parliamentary Forum held in Vladivostok from 27 to 30 January 2013, and I ask leave of the House to make a short statement in connection with the report.
For the information of members, I present the report of the Australian Parliamentary Delegation to the twenty-first Annual Meeting of the Asia Pacific Parliamentary Forum, the APPF, held in Vladivostok from 27 to 30 January this year.
As leader of that delegation I am pleased to present this report. The delegation members comprised the Deputy Speaker, the Hon. Bruce Scott as deputy leader, the member for Leichhardt, the Hon. Warren Entsch and the member for La Trobe, Ms Laura Smyth. The delegation secretary was the Serjeant-at-Arms, Miss Robin McClelland.
A delegation from the Australian parliament has participated in every annual meeting of the APPF, as well as the meetings that prepared for the establishment of the forum. The APPF is an organisation that is relevant to Australia. The countries that participate are significant to our strategic and economic interests, and the APPF meeting agenda addresses important issues. I should mention that representatives from 27 parliaments participated from North-East Asia, South-East Asia, Oceania and the Americas. All delegates have an opportunity to develop their understanding of these issues and the perspectives of neighbouring parliaments, and to reach agreement on the resolutions of the meeting.
The meeting in Vladivostok was the second annual meeting hosted by the Russian Federation. Russia had previously hosted the 15th annual meeting in Moscow in January 2007. The hosts this year indicated that the meeting in Vladivostok was undertaken in the framework of Russia's recent presidency of APEC. Vladivostok is Russia's gateway to the Asia-Pacific and is located in the Far East region, a strategic sector of development. The venue for the meeting—the new campus of the Far Eastern Federal University on Russkiy Island—was the venue for the APEC Leaders' Summit last year. That region of the Russian Federation is about 25 per cent larger than the geographical area of Australia, and yet the population is only six million.
The 21st annual meeting of the APPF was most successful. Three hundred and twenty-eight delegates from 23 member states and one observer state attended. The management of the forum and the organisational arrangements were of a high standard, and the outcomes were positive and substantive. At the conclusion of each APPF meeting the leaders of all participating states sign a joint communique which includes a list of all resolutions adopted by the meeting.
I turn now more specifically to the subject matter of the meeting. There were three broad subject areas on the agenda: politics and security and economic matters and regional security, as well as future work of the APPF. Before the meeting in December 2012 the Australian delegation proposed five resolutions on the following subjects: peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific; combatting terrorism, drug trafficking and organised crime; food security; energy security; and cooperation in disaster risk reduction, disaster management and environmental protection.
Each delegation member spoke in the plenary on one of these topics, and delegation members negotiated resolutions through working groups on these and other topics. The delegation participated in all sessions of the drafting committee, where the draft resolutions from the working groups were finalised before they were returned to the plenary and adopted at the final session. My colleague delegation members, Mr Scott and Ms Smyth, represented the delegation on the drafting committee.
In the event, the final joint communique of the forum included 14 resolutions, five of which were on the subjects sponsored by Australia. In addition, delegation members held a bilateral meeting with representatives of the Russian delegation, observed the roundtable discussion on new horizons for cooperation between the Asia-Pacific and Europe and visited information displays and presentation by the Russian regions of Siberia and the Far East. Ms Smyth represented the delegation at a meeting of young parliamentarians, and contributed to the message from participants to the plenary.
In preparation for the APPF21 meeting, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in Canberra assisted us, as usual, with comprehensive briefing materials. The Parliamentary Library also provided helpful briefing material. The International and Community Relations Office provided logistical support, and the delegation appreciates their assistance very much.
In Vladivostok, the delegation was accompanied by Mr Peter Nagy from our embassy in Moscow, and received a briefing from Australia's Honorary Consul in Vladivostok, Mr Vladimir Gorokhov, on the Russian Far East region.
The delegation has greater knowledge of the Russian Federation and the Far East region in particular, and potential opportunities for Australia, as a result of its visit.
The delegation's preparations for the meeting were assisted by the early nomination of delegation members and by the helpful briefing we received in November from members of last year's APPF delegation. We suggest in the report that similar arrangements apply for next year's APPF meeting.
In conclusion, I thank my fellow delegation members for their cooperation, good humour and highly professional representation of the parliament. I particularly, personally and on behalf of the delegation, wish to sincerely thank our delegation secretary, the indefatigable Serjeant-at-Arms, Ms Robyn McClelland, who has put together our report within 15 days of our return. I have been in this place coming up 15 years and I cannot ever recall a delegation report being tabled so early in parliament. I note the Clerk is here this morning: I think Ms McClelland is entitled to some performance pay for her efforts! Finally, I believe the delegation represented the parliament most effectively and with distinction. I commend the report to the House and I take this opportunity to wish everyone a very happy Valentine's Day.