Report on the Asia Pacific Parliamentary Forum

mexico_cohort.jpgMr STEPHEN JONES (Throsby) (09:06): I would like to place on record my appreciation for the work that we were able to jointly engage in during this important delegation and associate myself with the comments that you have made from the chair, Madam Speaker. Forums such as this are important in enabling members of this place to engage in parliamentary diplomacy, an important factor in ensuring that we make our contribution to peace and stability within our region and economic cooperation between the countries that we represent. You have outlined in your report, Madam Speaker, the six areas that we as delegates from this country contributed to in the debate. I myself spoke on the issue of climate change and the need for Australia to engage with other countries through multilateral fora to ensure that we do everything we can to address this generational challenge. Whilst in this place we have different views on the best means by which we address this important issue, when in international fora we speak with a single voice, and we were able to do that. It was my experience that the Australian delegation acquitted themselves admirably as vigorous participants in all of the debates and in all of the meetings that went on behind the scenes. I say that without exception for all of the members who participated in the delegation.

I want to make special mention, if I may, of the visit to CYMMIT, the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center. If you had told me at the beginning of the delegation that one of the highlights of the trip would be to visit this particular facility I would have been very surprised indeed, but it was, so I want to place on the record my gratitude to the member for Parkes, as I believe it was his suggestion that we visit this facility. I make two important points: oftentimes Australia's foreign aid contribution is a matter of controversy within this place and within the country at large. But when you visit the wheat and maize improvement institute in Mexico you see the work that is being done with a $48 million contribution over the period of 2012-13 to science, research in genetics in particular, ensuring that we can, for example, produce drought resistant wheat and maize, or corn. These important crops are at the very base of most of the protein that is produced throughout the world and they help to ensure starvation eradication and enable us to deal with climate change. From the fact that 98 per cent of the wheat that is grown in Australia has its genetic origin in the work that is performed by the Wheat and Maize Improvement Center, you can see that the aid we provide is put to a very good use that has direct relevance and direct benefit to things we are doing back here in Australia.

Finally, I will place on the record—and I associate myself with your comments, Madam Speaker—my thanks to the Serjeant-at-Arms, Ms Robyn McClelland, for the excellent work she did in providing secretarial support to the delegation, and to our ambassadorial team in Mexico City, who did an absolutely outstanding job in ensuring that all our needs were met while we were in Mexico City and in Puerto Vallarta. I commend the report to the House.