Speech by Queensland Speaker of Parliament Hon. Fiona Simpson Twinning Agreement Signing between the Queensland Parliamentand the PNG Parliament
24 - 26 Spetember 2013, Parliament House, Port Moresby
“It is with great pleasure, on behalf of the Queensland Parliament, that I sign this agreement today between the Parliament of Papua New Guinea, and the Parliament of Queensland.
Queensland is the nearest Australian State to Papua New Guinea and this gives rise to a special relationship of closeness and cooperation.
The signing of this memorandum of understanding is not merely a symbol of intention to work together, it is a statement of an existing relationship and how we seek to strengthen it further.
Already it has borne the fruit of practical outcomes with training opportunities and professional development, and we look forward to doing much more.
When I think about how our State and Nation are often described, it is often by talking about the significant natural resources of our countries such as minerals, timber and marine resources.
However, there is something far greater than any of these. The greatest resource of any nation and any State is her people.
And as we meet as two parliaments today, and sign this agreement to work together, we do so as representatives of the people of Queensland and the people of Papua New Guinea.
Our Parliaments are the very institutions that embody the right and freedom of every Papua New Guinean and every Queenslander to have a voice in the future of their democracy.
As servants and custodians of these parliaments, we should always be vigilant to ensure that as our Parliamentary democracies grow and evolve and they are not eroded. The important principles of representation, of freedom, of independence and of every Member speaking on behalf of those who elected them to serve with integrity and diligence are keys to see our institutions thrive in our nation and state.
Greater understanding of our Parliaments, of what they both represent and how they function, and why that is intrinsically important to freedom and democracy will strengthen each of our communities and our Parliaments.
After all, what we do not understand we do not value. What we do not value, we do not protect or defend.
That is why efforts to strengthen understanding and institutional integrity are essential to the prosperity of our countries. Education, professional development and training in our respective parliaments are key elements of this agreement and help achieve this.
Effective democracy is about shared leadership and active and informed citizenship. It also requires our democratic institutions to be supported by highly trained professional staff.
Our Parliaments, both unicameral Parliaments, are important and we must promote shared understanding – between all Members of Parliament, between our state and nation and amongst our respective communities as well.
This Parliamentary Partnership Agreement is the result of the cooperation and hard work of many people.
In September 2012, the new PNG Speaker, Hon Theo Zurenouc met with the Clerk of the Queensland Parliament for a workshop organised by the Centre for Democratic Institutions. The following month, Mr Michael Crandon MP, Member for Coomera and Mr Rob Hansen, Research Director, Committee Office participated in a training workshop for new PNG MPs and staff in Port Moresby. Assistance was again provided by the Centre for Democratic Institutions, and their help has been invaluable as we have progressed this relationship.
In November 2012, I was very pleased to host a four day visit to the Queensland Parliament from a delegation headed by Speaker Zurenuoc. The program included observation of proceedings of the Legislative Assembly and of its Committees and a meeting to progress the dialogue in relation to twinning arrangements. This was the first time I met Speaker Zurenuoc, who I hold in great esteem.
In February this year Mr Rob Hansen travelled to Port Moresby to participate in a review of Chamber procedures in the PNG Parliament and a report of the review being presented to Speaker Zurenouc in April.
I acknowledge the assistance of AusAID through the Government Partnerships for Development (GPFD) Program to complement and enhance the existing CPA twinning arrangement aimed at strengthening the PNG Parliament through capacity building.
In June, I and Michael Ries, the Deputy Clerk of Queensland Parliament participated in a workshop in Canberra with Speaker Zurenouc and the newly appointed Clerk of the PNG Parliament Mr Vela Konevaro.
I acknowledge the work of many people including those here today who have assisted the formation of the Parliamentary Partnership Agreement.
I note that this agreement will see us actively work together through such things as
- Exchanges of information regarding the work of the two parliaments and on matters of common interest;
- Regular exchanges and dialogue regarding the training needs of parliamentarians and parliamentary staff leading to training activities between the parliaments that promote parliamentary development;
- Exchanges of visits between the two parliaments as a means of fostering links between parliamentarians and parliamentary staff; and
- Meetings between representatives of the parliaments at conferences or seminars they may attend.
I like that we will be actively working together. Proactively building relationship – being intentional and deliberate about fostering increased understanding, greater cooperation and shared growth will benefit both the Queensland Parliament and the Papua New Guinea Parliament.
And if our Parliaments benefit, then our people benefit.
My hope is that this partnership agreement will continue to water the seeds of democracy – that each generation will grow stronger than those who go before, understanding their freedoms, taking up the responsibility to lead and learning to serve their communities with integrity, with diligence and with the strength that comes from shared knowledge and understanding.
I look forward to this partnership being a blessing to each of our Parliaments, and in turn to the people of both Papua New Guinea and Queensland.
May God bless Papua New Guinea and may God bless Queensland.”