Myanmar Speaker seeks closer ties with Australia

Parliamentary, business, tertiary and cultural links encouraged

Speaker of the Myanmar parliament’s upper house (the Pyidangsu Hluttaw or House of Nationalities) has called for closer cooperation between the Australian and Myanmar parliaments during his first ever visit to Australia.

U Khin Aung Myint led a delegation of Myanmar parliamentarians on a visit to Sydney, Wollongong, Canberra and Melbourne in early October that included meetings with a range of Australian parliamentarians and representatives of the business, tertiary and media sectors.

Discussions with Senate President John Hogg and House of Representatives Speaker Anna Burke focused on opportunities for increased engagement between the Australian and Myanmar parliaments, including ways in which Australian parliamentarians and parliamentary staff can assist with the development of Myanmar’s fledgling parliamentary democracy. Khin Aung Myint was particularly interested in the support that can be provided by Australia’s Parliamentary Library in developing a modern library and research service for the Myanmar parliament. The need for such a service was identified as a priority during a recent Inter-Parliamentary Union assessment mission to the Myanmar Parliament.

In Sydney the Speaker and his delegation attended the launch of the Australia Myanmar Business Taskforce coordinated by Asialink and also visited the University of Sydney, where discussions at the university’s Southeast Asia Centre focused on opportunities for Myanmar students to study in Australia.

Sustainability and resource tax issues were the focus of a meeting at BHP Billiton in Melbourne and the delegation also took the opportunity to visit the ABC’s Southbank Centre where they expressed a strong interest in having Australian radio and television programs available in Myanmar to help build cultural connections between our two countries.