Foreign affairs, immigration, defence and issues of the environment were the topics of interest when a delegation from the European Parliament met with Australian Parliamentarians on their biennial visit.
The delegation, which visited Canberra and Perth, was led by Mr Axel Voss MEP (Acting Chairman for Relations with Australia and New Zealand) and provided representatives of both Parliaments the opportunity to discuss matters of mutual interest, such as counter-terrorism, data protection legislation and bilateral Free Trade Agreements.
These matters were discussed in-depth with Foreign Minister the Hon Julie Bishop MP and the Chair of the Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and Trade the Hon Teresa Gambaro MP.
Secretariat Administrator for the Inter-parliamentary Delegation Dr Ulrich Jochheim said he was surprised at how similar the challenges for Europe are to those in Australia.
“I think our challenges are quite similar in with the issues of migration, counter-terrorism and climate change – and that we need to get the balance right for each,” Dr Jochheim said.
While in Canberra, the delegation also met with Senator the Hon Stephen Parry President of the Senate, who said that with all the challenges of the current world environment, building cooperative relationships globally has never been more important.
“Our relationship with the EU is built on a shared commitment to freedom and democratic values and a like-minded approach to a vast range of international issues. In view of this, Australia and the EU have developed a treaty-level framework which is expected to be signed later this year,” Senator Parry said.
“This Framework Agreement will put the current bilateral partnership on a new footing, activating our commitment to cooperate across issues such as non-proliferation, counter-terrorism and human rights.
“This bilateral partnership will exist regardless of the government of the day and illustrates why it is important to create enduring relationships between the Parliaments through Parliament-to-Parliament visits such as this.” Senator Parry said.
Prior to leaving Canberra, the delegation also met with Speaker of the House of Representatives the Hon Tony Smith MP, Shadow Minister for Immigration and Border Protection the Hon Richard Marles MP, Minister for Trade and Investment the Hon Andrew Robb AO MP and Senator for Western Australia Linda Reynolds.
In Perth, talks shifted toward climate change challenges for Western Australia, law enforcement (particularly immigration), and commerce and industry. This included meetings with the Western Australia Chamber of Commerce and Industry CEO Ms Deidre Willmott, Dr Tom Hatton Chairman of the Environmental Protection Authority and Mrs Sue Murphy CEO Water Corporation.
The Perth visit was also capped off with a luncheon hosted by the Presiding Officers of the Parliament of the Western Australia, The Hon Barry House MLC President of the Legislative Council and The Hon Michael Sutherland MLA Speaker of the Legislative Assembly, as well as a visit to the European Space Agency facility in Landsdale.
The European Parliamentary Delegation with the Presiding Officers