On Monday, 10 February 2020, the President of the Republic of Indonesia, His Excellency Mr Joko Widodo, delivered an address in the House of Representatives.
President Widodo began his address with a ‘G’day, mate!’ before speaking in Indonesian about the close relationship between Australia and Indonesia, the assistance our countries have provided to one another following major disasters such as the 2004 tsunami that struck Aceh, and the newly-ratified free trade agreement.
President Widodo is the 15th world leader to address the House of Representatives – the first such address, from United States of America President George H.W. Bush, occurred in 2002. In 2010, President Widodo’s immediate predecessor, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, also made an address to the House of Representatives.
When world leaders speak to the Parliament, both Members and Senators gather in the House of Representatives. The only exception to this rule is the Queen – due to a long-standing tradition dating back to the English Civil War, the sovereign is not invited to enter the House of Representatives in an official capacity. Addresses from our own head of state are instead heard by Members and Senators in the Senate Chamber.
Despite appearances, such meetings are not Joint Sittings of Parliament. While the initial practice for addresses from world leaders was to have the House and Senate formally meet in the House of Representatives Chamber, since 2003 the practice of both Houses has been to have the visiting leader address a sitting of the House, with Senators invited as guests.
You can read President Widodo’s full address in Hansard, or watch the speech in full on the House of Representatives YouTube channel.