Coinciding with the 40th anniversary of ASEAN-Australia relations, ASEAN parliamentarians have been given the opportunity to meet and share ideas with members of all three tiers of Australian Government.
The group completed a week-long visit to Melbourne, the Latrobe Valley and Canberra as guests of the Parliament of Australia. Delegates came from nine of the ten ASEAN Member States. In the group, eight of the nine delegates were in their first term as members of their respective parliaments. The visit was designed to strengthen Australia’s relationship with ASEAN Member Parliaments, to assist members of parliament in our region develop links and to allow parliamentarians in our region to gain a positive insight into modern Australia. It was a valuable opportunity for the young members of parliament who have had limited contact with Australia to foster ongoing professional relationships with Australians in government, business and education.
The delegates met with representatives from all three-tiers of government to discuss issues of direct interest to them. In Canberra, they met with federal parliamentarians including Speaker of the House of Representatives Bronwyn Bishop, President of the Senate Stephen Parry, Minister for Foreign Affairs Julie Bishop, Shadow Minister for Immigration and Border Protection Richard Marles, representatives of the Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade, and members of the Australia-ASEAN Parliamentary Group. They also learnt about federal parliamentary practice and procedure with Serjeant-at-Arms Bronwyn Notzon and Usher of the Black Rod Rachel Callinan, and discussed social media strategies with Terri Butler MP, Cathy McGowan MP and Matt Thistlethwaite MP.
In Melbourne, the delegation met with the Australian Electoral Commission, President of the Victorian Legislative Council Bruce Atkinson and Clerk of the Legislative Assembly Ray Purdey for a briefing on the three-tiers of Australian Government.
Delegates then gained insight into issues on a local level in the Latrobe Valley where they met the Federal Member for McMillan Russell Broadbent and representatives of the Baw Baw Shire Council. After spending two days with the delegates as they travelled through Gippsland, Mr Broadbent said he hoped the interactions would assist the relationships in the region. “The ASEAN members have gained an understanding of Australia and its political system and the relationships built will help accelerate economic growth, and enhance our regional peace and stability”
Site visits that exposed participants to life in Australia from a trade, education and cultural perspective were also part of the program. These included visits to Asialink, Radford’s Abattoir, Loy Yang Power Station, Warragul North Primary School, a dairy farm at Korumburra, Inverloch Surf Life Saving Club and Gippsland’s emergency services, as well as roundtable discussions with the Australian National University and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.