Photo courtesy of the Australian War Memorial
Environment and defence were two key issues for the official September visit to Australia by the Speaker of the Riksdagen (Parliament of Sweden), Mr Urban Ahlin.
Speaker Ahlin was joined by Ms Åsa Lindestam, Member of Parliament for the Social Democratic Party and Mr Sven-Olof Sällström, Member of Parliament for the Sweden Democrats, together with senior parliamentary officials, including Ms Kathrin Flossing, Secretary General of the Parliament of Sweden. Also accompanying the Delegation was H E Mr Pär Ahlberger, Ambassador of Sweden to Australia and Mr Mika Ihalainen, Defence Attaché.
During the eight-day visit, the Speaker and his Delegation visited Cairns, Sydney and Canberra.
In Cairns, the Delegation met with senior academics at James Cook University to discuss sustainable urban futures, the work of the Cairns Institute, tropical biodiversity and climate change, and tropical health and medicine. Sweden plays a lead role with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals 2030 (SDG2030).
In Sydney, the Delegation met with representatives of the Lowy Institute and in Canberra, they met with representatives of the Australian Strategic Policy Institute to discuss regional and global defence and security issues, especially the Pacific.
In Canberra, the Delegation officially met with with the Speaker of the House of Representatives, the Hon Tony Smith MP and the former President of the Senate, Senator the Hon Stephen Parry.
As part of a visit to the Australian War Memorial, the Delegation toured the Holocaust display which honoured Swedish diplomat Mr Raoul Wallenberg, who is widely celebrated for saving thousands of Jewish civilians from German occupied Hungary. In 2013, Mr Wallenberg was named Australia’s first honorary citizen as recognition for his heroic deeds. Speaker Ahlin also laid a wreath at Last Post Ceremony which honoured Australian RAAF Corporal Donald Nelson, who is buried in Sweden.
Speaker Ahlin also officiated at the opening of the Solander Garden at the Embassy of Sweden in Canberra, named after Daniel Solander, a Swedish naturalist and the first university educated scientist to set foot on Australian soil.