DELEGATION REPORTS;Australian Parliamentary Delegation to New Zealand – 15 Sep 2016

By leave—I present the report of the Australian parliamentary delegation to New Zealand, which took place from 5 to 8 April 2016. I seek leave to move a motion in relation to the report.

Leave granted.

 Senator BILYK: I move:

That the Senate take note of the document.

 Senator BILYK: I seek leave to make a statement on the delegation.

Leave granted.

 Senator BILYK: The Australian parliamentary delegation to New Zealand, led by the Speaker of the House of Representatives, the honourable Tony Smith, visited the New Zealand Parliament in Wellington in April 2016. This visit was hosted by the Right Honourable David Carter, Speaker of the House of Representatives of New Zealand. Australia and New Zealand, as we know, are natural allies with strong trans-Tasman connections with migration, trade and defence ties. Keen competition on the sporting field and strong people-to-people links have helped shape a close, cooperative relationship.

Over three days the delegation met with many different MPs from across New Zealand’s political spectrum including the Prime Minister, the Right Honourable John Key, who discussed a number of issues including the recent efforts to change New Zealand’s national flag—they had just been through that process. Through its meetings, the delegation gained a greater understanding of the economic and social challenges faced by New Zealand.

There were quite a number of highlights in this trip, which included: attending the New Zealand parliamentary question time; a meeting of the social services select committee, which operates very differently to our Senate committees here; a visit with the New Zealand Electoral Commission and a wreath-laying ceremony at the Pukeahu National War Memorial Park. That is of great significance to all Australians, particularly to the parliamentarians on the delegation. We acknowledge the importance of participating in such a moving program as to lay a wreath to commemorate the shared experience of our Anzacs and to symbolise the respect and close friendships between our countries.

The delegation was also afforded a number of cultural opportunities, which included a visit to the Te Papa Museum’s Gallipoli exhibition, an astounding exhibition. The museum houses a range of exhibits but the Gallipoli exhibition in particular is an absolutely stunning result of the collaboration between Te Papa and Weta workshop to create a world-class exhibit to tell the human stories behind Gallipoli. The exhibition captures the extraordinary human experiences of the Gallipoli campaign through the stories of eight New Zealanders. It consists of larger than life models, artefacts and information that combine to give a fully rounded idea of what the featured individuals experienced. I think all the delegation found the exhibition both impressive and very moving in its telling of these human stories. Of course it is of particular relevance because both Australia and New Zealand commemorated the Centenary of Gallipoli in 2015.

The delegation was also privileged to visit a Maori language immersion school, where a traditional Maori welcome ceremony was performed by students. The visit was an excellent opportunity for members of the Australian parliament to represent Australia internationally and contribute to the valuable, ongoing and positive relationship that exists between us and our closest neighbours. The delegation report was tabled in the House of Representatives earlier this morning, I understand.

In concluding, I thank very much the secretariat people that came with us and assisted us, particularly Julia. The Australian High Commission office and staffers did a fantastic job organising the extensive program of meetings and activities that took place throughout the visit. I would like to make a special mention also of the dedicated staff from the office of the Speaker of the House of Representatives in New Zealand, the Visits and Ceremonials Office in the Department of Internal Affairs in New Zealand and, as I said, the Australian High Commission staff in Wellington, who worked tirelessly to ensure that the program proceeded smoothly for us.

Question agreed to.