Gordon Campbell | Parliament TV | Parliament Today | Video | Questions Of the Day | Search


Asia-Pacific Parliamentary Forum meeting in Auck

Asia-Pacific Parliamentary Forum meeting in Auckland 20 – 24 Jan 2008

Oped from the Speaker of the House, Hon Margaret Wilson MP

Parliamentarians from more than 20 countries gathering in Auckland at the end of [next] week [20 Jan] will be pressing for action on some of the Asia-Pacific region’s thorniest problems, writes Speaker of the House Margaret Wilson.

On Sunday, while many New Zealanders are thinking about barbecues and the beach, around 400 parliamentarians and support staff from around the Asia-Pacific region will be settling down to five days’ work.

The occasion is the 16th annual meeting of the Asia-Pacific Parliamentary Forum (APPF), a process set up in the early 1990s to make sure legislators from the world’s fastest-growing and most dynamic region had an opportunity to work together on the major issues of the day.

It’s true that the APPF is not one of the best-known or showiest groupings around. It does not involve heads of government and the focus is more on poring over resolutions than on public events.

However, this meeting is an important one for New Zealand and we are proud to be taking our turn to host.

The Asia-Pacific region is one of the major hubs of world affairs and we are very much ‘part of the neighbourhood’. This is not just a matter of geography. New Zealand is increasingly linked to the region by demography (around nine percent of us claim Asian ethnicity and around seven percent Pacific ethnicity) and the bonds created by fast-growing person-to-person links, cultural connections and trade.

What goes on in the huge area to our north and immediate west really does matter to us, and we cannot afford to simply be passive spectators.

For that reason we are already involved with a number of groupings in the region – APEC is the best-known but there are others, including the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN), with which we are a dialogue partner, and now the East Asia Summit process.

These are vitally important connections but they are not substitutes for involvement with the APPF. The Forum is unique because it operates not between governments, but between individual parliamentarians of every political hue and level.

Many of those involved in the Forum are senior in their own parliamentary systems and have considerable input into the policy-making of their own parties. Others are up-and-comers who, in years to come, will play leading roles in the development of their countries.

The value for our own MPs in forming good working relationships and friendships with their equivalents in other nations cannot be overstated. Participation in the APPF is an investment in our future.

Another key benefit to New Zealand from membership of the APPF is the range of issues it considers. The benefit is not necessarily a matter of legal authority – the Forum works according to consensus, and, because it does not represent governments, its communiqués do not have binding status.

The value comes from the fact that resolutions put forward by member governments for deliberation and eventual incorporation in the final joint communiqué are closely considered by decision-makers from a large number of significant countries.

The APPF helps New Zealand and other active participants float some of their major concerns within the Asia-Pacific and global communities.

Let’s consider a couple of the resolutions that New Zealand is putting forward.

One of the most significant relates to cluster munitions – that is, small ‘bomblets’ delivered within larger bombs – that remain scattered, live and lethal long after conflicts have ended.

As it did with land-mines, New Zealand has taken a strong international stand to rid the world of these obnoxious weapons. In fact, in February we are hosting a major international conference as part of a global process to have their development, production and use banned.

It’s a major boost to this initiative to have on the APPF schedule a resolution that encourages members to support a binding international agreement on cluster munitions by the end of this year [subs: 2008].

Another important resolution we are sponsoring looks to encourage a five-year moratorium on switching land currently used for growing food to growing energy crops, and discourage the clearing of indigenous or ecologically important land for growing energy crops. The resolution also calls for APPF members to investigate the development of biofuels made from non-food sources such as waste and cellulose.

Increasing awareness of the need to move away from fossil fuel use has encouraged international interest in growing biofuel crops. This is a positive development – as long as enough land is still used for producing food, and conservation areas are protected. Our resolution ensures this important issue is placed squarely on the Asia-Pacific agenda.

New Zealand is sponsoring other APPF resolutions that reflect our national perspective on issues of importance to the region and the world.

These cover the search for lasting peace on the Korean Peninsula, mutual skills recognition between countries as a mechanism for strengthening economies, preventing the spread of bird ‘flu, improving access to sanitation and clean drinking water, bringing free elections and an end to human rights abuses in Myanmar, and protecting free speech and eliminating poverty.

These are goals that, I believe, all New Zealanders will be pleased to have pursued in their name.

The Auckland meeting of the Asia-Pacific Parliamentary Forum is one of many ways in which New Zealand can seek, despite its small size, to influence the international agenda.

I am proud that New Zealand has the opportunity to host a gathering that will allow us to make our voice heard in the Asia-Pacific and beyond, and build much-needed bridges between the legislators of the region.


© Scoop Media

Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines

Gordon Campbell: On The Life And Times Of Peter Dunne

In the end, Mr Pragmatic calmly read the signs of impending defeat and went out on his own terms. You could use any number of clichés to describe Peter Dunne’s exit from Parliament.

The unkind might talk of sinking ships, others could be more reminded of a loaded revolver left on the desk by his Cabinet colleagues as they closed the door behind them, now that the polls in Ohariu had confirmed he was no longer of much use to National. More>>


Gordon Campbell: On Labour’s Campaign Launch

One of the key motifs of Ardern’s speech was her repeated use of the phrase – “Now, what?” Cleverly, that looks like being Labour’s response to National’s ‘steady as it goes’ warning against not putting the economic ‘gains’ at risk. More>>


Lyndon Hood: Social Welfare, Explained

Speaking as someone who has seen better times and nowadays mostly operates by being really annoying and humiliating to deal with, I have some fellow feeling with the current system, so I’ll take this chance to set a few things straight.. More>>


Deregistered: Independent Board Decision On Family First

The Board considers that Family First has a purpose to promote its own particular views about marriage and the traditional family that cannot be determined to be for the public benefit in a way previously accepted as charitable... More>>


Transport Policies: Nats' New $10.5bn Roads Of National Significance

National is committing to the next generation of Roads of National Significance, National Party Transport Spokesperson Simon Bridges says. More>>


Gordon Campbell: On Why Labour Isn’t Responsible For Barnaby Joyce

As a desperate Turnbull government tries to treat the Barnaby Joyce affair as a Pauline Hanson fever dream – blame it on the foreigners! We’re the victims of the dastardly New Zealand Labour Party! – our own government has chosen to further that narrative, and make itself an accomplice. More>>


Rail: Greens Back Tauranga – Hamilton – Auckland Service

The Green Party today announced that it will trial a passenger rail service between Auckland, Hamilton and Tauranga starting in 2019, when it is in government. More>>


Housing: Voluntary Rental Warrant Of Fitness For Wellington

Wellington City Council is partnering with the University of Otago, Wellington, to launch a voluntary Rental Warrant of Fitness for minimum housing standards in Wellington, Mayor Justin Lester has announced. More>>





Featured InfoPages

Opening the Election