Pacific parliaments set priorities for community engagement

19 priority actions identified at Samoa workshop

Eleven parliaments from the Pacific region have agreed on priority actions to better engage with their communities and constituents in a bid to strengthen democracy in their countries. At a workshop organised in Apia by the Samoan and Australian parliaments and the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU), with funding from AusAID, representatives from the 11 parliaments, many of them Speakers, agreed on a set of 19 priority actions such as improving community consultation on parliamentary bills; becoming financially independent; establishing constituency offices, examining parliamentary sitting times to allow adequate time for MPs to return to their communities, and  targeting outreach to less represented sections of the community.

Examining the findings of the IPU-UNDP’s Global Parliamentary Report on the changing face of political representation, participants also reflected on the challenges of having to combine their role as an MP with that of a traditional leader. The huge distances and remoteness of parliamentary constituencies in Pacific island nations represent particular problems in fulfilling MPs’ responsibilities.

The 11 parliaments also agreed to seek on-going engagement of the IPU in the region through membership and regional IPU-supported activities. Distance and the lack of resources have usually hampered the involvement of Pacific parliaments in the IPU.   

Deputy President of the Senate, Senator Stephen Parry, and Member for  Bruce (Vic), Alan Griffin, represented the Australian parliament at the Samoa workshop.

The statement from the workshop outlining the 19 priority actions is available here.