ASEAN delegation experiences regional challenges

Members of the delegation with Castlemaine SES and Lisa Chesters MP 
Members of the delegation with Castlemaine SES and Lisa Chesters MP

The Australian Parliament has once again welcomed representatives from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations – better known as ASEAN – as part of a program to develop links between member states in our region.

The eight-day November visit saw Delegates arrive in Melbourne before travelling to Bendigo where they were hosted by Lisa Chesters MP, followed by a visit to Canberra and then Sydney.

In Bendigo, Ms Chesters arranged a visit program in order for the Delegation to better understand the challenges faced by a regional centre. The program included visits to Thales, who locally manufacture defence transport; Camp Hill Primary School to discuss education services to Victorian school children; a roundtable briefing and discussion with the Mayor and Councillors of the City of Greater Bendigo; meetings with local service providers regarding health, childcare, legal and community services; dinner with local food and wine producers, as well as visiting with volunteers at Castlemaine SES and Maldon CFA.

In Canberra, the Delegation attended a dinner hosted by the Presiding Officers of the Parliament of Australia, the Hon Tony Smith MP, Speaker of the House of Representatives and Senator the Hon Scott Ryan, President of the Senate. The Delegation met with Foreign Minister, the Hon Julie Bishop MP and representatives of the Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade, chaired by Senator David Fawcett. The Delegation also attended a roundtable discussion and luncheon hosted by senior officials of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

The program has been running since 2012 and aims to strengthen Australia’s relationship with our ASEAN partners by inviting newly elected or appointed members of parliament who have had limited contact with Australia to experience our political system at ground level by travelling with members of Australia’s parliament to their electorates. Previous delegations have visited Wagga Wagga, Launceston, East Gippsland, Newcastle and the Bunbury - Margaret River region.

For the first time, the 2017 Delegation also included the Secretary-General of the ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Secretary, Mr Isra Sunthornvut.