Australian Parliamentary Delegation – House of Representatives | Ross Vasta MP

I present the report of the Parliamentary Delegation to the 41st General Assembly of the ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Assembly, held virtually from 8 to 10 September 2020, and seek leave to make a short statement in connection with the report. Leave granted.

I am pleased to present the report of the delegation to the 41st ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Assembly, or AIPA, in September last year. Australia and ASEAN have a long history together, with Australia becoming the first of ASEAN’s 10 dialogue partners in 1974. For the first time in its history, the general assembly was held in hybrid format; while the event was hosted by Vietnam, many of the participants attended virtually.

Each member of our delegation—the member for Wills, the member for Dawson, Senator Walsh and I—attended from our own home states. I was pleased to make a statement on behalf of the Australian delegation by video link. The overarching theme of the assembly was parliamentary diplomacy for a cohesive and responsive ASEAN community. The impact of the pandemic and the need for member nations to work together was a natural focus throughout.

Senator Walsh attended the meeting of Women Parliamentarians of AIPA, which considered the role of women parliamentarians in securing jobs and income for women workers and heard of the significant and disproportionate impact that the COVID-19 pandemic was having on women’s employment and incomes and the actions many member countries are taking to address this. An inaugural unofficial meeting of young parliamentarians was also held during the assembly.

The delegation was interested to learn that there are almost 220 million young people across ASEAN countries—that is, a third of the population. The delegation had been looking forward to continuing the program of visits to other ASEAN countries in addition to the AIPA host nation. However, the pandemic meant that this was not possible.

The delegation considers these country visits to be an important part of the parliament’s international program and looks forward to them resuming. Meeting and sharing experiences with our colleagues and other parliaments in person is something that we all value. Finally, the delegation wishes to thank Vietnam for hosting and organising the event and ensuring the important work of the assembly continues, despite the challenges posed by the pandemic.