New Zealand’s interests promoted on the world stage
Office of the Speaker of the House of Representatives
For release 13 October 2017
New Zealand’s interests promoted on the world stage from Kuwait to Sweden
The Speaker, Rt Hon David Carter, is leading a delegation, including Sarah Dowie MP (National) and Peeni Henare MP (Labour), to the 137th Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) Assembly in St Petersburg Russia from 13 to 19 October 2017.
Twice a year the IPU brings together over 160 countries, from around the globe, with diverse systems of government, diverse cultures, and equally diverse histories, but all with a joint commitment to peace and cooperation among peoples. Established in 1889, the IPU remains the world-wide focal point for parliamentary dialogue and a global champion of representative democracy.
The agenda includes a debate on, promoting cultural pluralism and peace through inter-faith and inter-ethnic dialogue, in which the New Zealand delegation will be given an opportunity to speak. Other important topics which will be discussed include sustainable development and renewable energy, a nuclear weapons-ban treaty, cyber warfare, ending AIDs, and Parliament’s role in a number of other topical issues. Meetings of women and young parliamentarians will also be held, to discuss and develop mechanisms for ensuring diversity and representativeness in parliaments.
Mr Speaker commented that, “As a global organisation of national parliaments, the IPU is an important forum for political dialogue and positive democratic change. This Assembly is particularly significant as a new President will be elected. Our participation will ensure that New Zealand’s and the wider Pacific region’s perspectives on the many issues facing the international parliamentary community are represented and heard”.
Mr Speaker will be making the most of his time abroad by taking up an invitation to briefly visit the Kuwait National Assembly on his way to St Petersburg. Following on from a successful Kuwait Parliamentarian visit to New Zealand in September last year, the visit provides an opportunity to discuss recent developments in the Middle East and the potential for expanding our economic links.
The 24-hour visit will see Mr Speaker meet with the Amir of Kuwait, the Crown Prince, Prime Minister, Minister of Foreign Affairs, and of course his counter-part Marzouq Al Ghanim, Speaker of the National Assembly.
Before returning to New Zealand, the delegation will stop over in Sweden to reconnect with Mr Urban Ahlin, Speaker of the Swedish Parliament, following his productive visit to New Zealand in August of this year. The delegation will enjoy a fast-paced program of meetings over two days with Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, the Minister for EU Affairs and Trade, the Minister for Enterprise and Innovation, and the President of the Sami Parliament in the Swedish laplands.
Although separated by vast lands and seas, New Zealand and Sweden enjoy a familial connection, with aligned views on key global issues, such as sustainable development, disarmament, human rights, and agricultural reform. Both countries are constitutional monarchies with strong parliamentary traditions providing an ideal platform to share developments in parliamentary procedure and adapting century-old institutions to the modern world.
Mr Speaker explained that, “Bilateral visits of this kind provide a valuable opportunity to engage directly with legislators and those in positions of influence. Allowing for New Zealand’s perspectives and policies to be better understood and our goods and services promoted to the world. It is a great privilege to showcase New Zealand’s strong, multicultural society, robust parliamentary scrutiny systems, and our approaches to indigenous issues and political representation to the world, while strengthening the capability of our own Parliament and the professional development of our parliamentarians”.