Friday, 24 February 2017

Address to the BOAO Forum for Asia - 8 December 2016

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Since 2001 The BOAO Forum has been at the forefront of initiating key regional economic goals in Asia and promoting them throughout the world.

Building the country to country ties through this forum allows us to share and develop solutions to the increasingly complex issues facing the international community. It is often the diversity of the responses to such challenges that we identify through these fora's that helps to make such dialogue so beneficial.


As the Speaker of the House of Representatives I place great importance on connecting with the parliaments of the world.


Creating, maintaining and encouraging the international links with other parliaments are of the upmost importance to the Australian Parliament. These parliamentary links help to promote understanding, allow the sharing of knowledge and build relationships between representatives.


I, along with the President of the Senate, am responsible for the Australian Parliament's engagement with the international community through our incoming and outgoing parliamentary visits.


The main objectives of our Parliament's international program are:

Firstly, to strengthen bilateral relations through interaction with other parliaments, with a particular emphasis on relationships in our region.

Second, to cooperate with the international community on common issues, for example through our membership of the Asia-Pacific Parliamentary Forum and the international organisation of Parliaments, the Inter-Parliamentary Union (or IPU).

And, thirdly, using our knowledge, skills and experience within the Australian parliament to support the development of parliamentary democracy in visiting countries.

At the commencement of each Parliament we prepare an indicative three-year program. In addition to our outgoing delegation visits, the Parliament hosts between 10 and 12 incoming delegations each year, based on a reciprocal program with a focus on our region.


Our Parliament has hosted 3 visits from China over the last two Parliaments where delegates experienced not only our capital cities, but also our vibrant regional centers such as Cairns in 2013.


A biennial visit to the People's Republic of China has been included as part of the Australian Parliament's delegations' out-going program for a number of years now to undertake the annual dialogue that forms part of our Parliament's Memorandum of Understanding with the National People's Congress.


While our program of outgoing delegations for 201 7 is still being finalised it is my intention, to lead the delegation to China next year.


The Memorandum of Understanding with the People's National Congress, first signed in 2011 by the then Presiding Officers, aims to provide a framework for further developing our already close ties through close parliamentary relations.


These ties are also developed through an annual parliamentary committee visit with arrangements for next year's visit currently underway.


By encouraging such contact we aim to increase mutual understanding and strengthen our communications. An additional benefit of developing closer relationships is that this in turn helps all countries to more quickly overcome the difficulties that beset any relationship from time to time.


In October I led our Parliament's delegation to the General Assembly of the Inter Parliamentary Union. Since joining the IPU in 1984 the Chinese Parliament, along with the Australian Parliament has worked together to have a strengthening influence on the global agenda.


I was particularly pleased that Australia was able to take the lead in a discussion we had proposed at an earlier IPU Conference, which was the freedom of women around the world to participate in political processes safely and without
interference.


As Speaker I will continue to encourage meaningful country to country dialogue, whether it be through our Parliaments or though forum such as this. I believe that such dialogue is vital to increase our understanding of each other and, where
opportunities exist, strengthen the ties between all countries.

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