Cook Islands Speaker visits Western Australia
Cook Islands Speaker Niki Rattle has visited Western Australia and New Zealand as part of a comprehensive study tour under the Pacific Parliamentary Partnerships program, which is funded by AusAID.
Niki Rattle was appointed Speaker of the Cook Islands Parliament in June 2012, following the untimely death of the former Speaker. Under the Cook Islands parliamentary system, she is not a member of parliament and, prior to her appointment as Speaker, had no practical experience in parliament. However she has had broad experience heading up the Red Cross Organisation in the Cook Islands and in that capacity has had many dealings with members and ministers.
Following a familiarisation program at the New Zealand Parliament, Speaker Rattle undertook an intensive study program in Western Australia. The Parliaments of the Cook Islands and Western Australia are twinned under the auspices of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association and there has already been a broad range of cooperation on many issues.
During the program, which ran from 21 to 24 October 2012, Speaker Rattle met with the Presiding Officers, members and senior staff of both houses of the Western Australia Parliament. The extensive programme included procedural and administrative briefings and presentations; attendance at sittings of both houses and different committees of each house; observation of evidence taking and also deliberation on draft reports by committees; discussions with the executive committee of the WA Branch of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association; and a range of other activities.
Discussions were held also on a draft Parliamentary Needs Analysis for the Cook Islands Parliament, prepared as part of the Pacific Parliamentary Partnerships program, and further actions to be taken on it.
Cook Islands Speaker Niki Rattle visits Western Australia. (L-R): Martin Whitley MLA; the Hon Grant Woodhams, MLA, Speaker of the Legislative Assembly; the Hon John Kobelke, MLA; Tony Krsticevic, MLA; the Hon Niki Rattle, Speaker of the Cook Islands Parliament; the Hon Dr Elizabeth Constable, MLA; Peter McHugh, Clerk of the Legislative Assembly.
New CPA Regional Representative for Australia
Senator Helen Polley (from the Commonwealth of Australia Branch) has become a CPA Regional Representative for Australia, joining Barry House (President of the WA Legislative Council) and Fiona Simpson (Speaker of the Queensland Parliament).
Australia’s federal, state and territory parliaments have approved more than $130,000 of projects to support capacity building of Pacific Island parliaments.
Meeting in Honiara, Solomon Islands, parliamentary presiding officers from Australia and the Pacific have agreed on a range of initiatives to help strengthen parliamentary development in the region.
Projects to be funded include provision of an internet server and associated IT training for the Solomon Islands Parliament; supply of a power generator for the Tongan Legislative Assembly to overcome problems with power disruptions at the parliament; a parliamentary skills development workshop for Kiribati MPs; training programs for Nauru and Vanuatu parliamentary staff; IT equipment and training for the Cook Islands Legislative Assembly, Niue Legislative Assembly and Bougainville House of Representatives; and provision of IT equipment for the Samoan Legislative Assembly to support the development of a community outreach program for the parliament.
Australian and Pacific parliamentary leaders are also discussing the ongoing development of the Pacific Parliamentary Partnerships program, which has seen twinning relationships established between Australian and Pacific parliaments. The program, which has resulted in a range of capacity building initiatives between Australian and Pacific parliaments, has received funding support from AusAID.
Earlier this week the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) signed an agreement with the Pacific Parliamentary Partnerships program to jointly conduct three capacity building projects for the Samoan Legislative Assembly.
The Honiara meeting is assessing the success of the program to date which has already seen a range of benefits delivered to parliaments in the region, including skills development programs for parliamentarians and staff of eight Pacific parliaments. The meeting will assist with planning of future capacity building projects that demonstrate the commitment of Australian parliaments to their engagement with Pacific parliaments.
On Thursday 31 May 2012 at Parliament House, Hobart 50 members of the Tasmanian ex-patriate Samoan community and members of both houses of the Tasmanian Parliament gathered to mark the 50th anniversary of Samoan independence. It was a relaxed occasion where links with the Samoan community were further strengthened. Samoa and Tasmania formed the second CPA Branch partnership in the world in February 2007 and warm ties exist between the two parliaments which now extend to the community. Former CPA Branch President Paul Harriss proposed a toast to Samoa, local community leader Savali Lopa responded and the Samoan national anthem was sung.
Meanwhile, in Samoa at the official golden jubilee celebrations Tasmania was represented by CPA Branch President Rene Hidding who presented a plaque to the Samoan Parliament to mark the occasion. A number of Tasmanian MPs were also keen to attend, however the annual budget estimates week intervened to prevent them.
In the week prior to Independence celebrations Tasmanian academic Associate Professor Richard Herr participated at a parliamentary strengthening workshop in Apia.
Singing of the Samoan national anthem at Tasmania’s Parliament House to celebrate Samoa’s 50th anniversary of independence
The newly established Public Accounts Committee of the Cook Islands Parliament visited their twin parliament in Western Australia to examine the operating methods of the Public Accounts Committee in the Legislative Assembly and the Estimates and Financial Operations Committee in the Legislative Council. Meetings with those committees and seeing their practical operations were supplemented by discussions with the Auditor General and Treasury budget officers. A range of other meetings were also held during the visit which members and officers regarded as very successful. The visit was supported under the Pacific Parliamentary Partnerships program, with funding from AusAID.
The steering committee for Commonwealth Women Parliamentarians Australia met via teleconference on 15 June 2012 to get an update on the implementation of the w.comm action agenda for 2012-13. The action agenda was developed at the committee’s annual planning workshop, this year held in April on Norfolk Island. The committee endorsed the new w.comm website which is due to be launched in July 2012, discussed a mentoring program for Pacific women parliamentarians, and considered progress made on promoting the issues for advocacy under the action agenda. For a copy of the w.comm action agenda for 2012-13 with a list of results to date click here.
To recognise their twinning partnership with Kiribati, the ACT Legislative Assembly has named one of the their parliamentary committee rooms the Kiribati Room. At a ceremony held on 8 June 2012, ACT Speaker Shane Rattenbury was joined by Kiribati Education Minister Maere Tekanene and Kiribati Opposition MP Waysang Kumkee in cutting the ribbon to declare the Kiribati Room open.
“Today is a special day for the strengthening of relations between the Legislative Assembly and the Kiribati Parliament and the people represented by these two important democratic institutions,” Mr Rattenbury said. “May our shared commitment to the parliamentary form of democracy long continue and the bonds that unite us grow yet stronger.”
The room is decorated with traditional mats received as a gift from Kiribati. Mrs Tekanene and Mr Kumkee were in Canberra for a mentoring attachment at the ACT Legislative Assembly. The attachment was supported through the Pacific Parliamentary Partnerships program, funded by AusAID.
Waysang Kumkee, Maere Tekanene and Shane Rattenbury at the opening of the Kiribati Room at the ACT Legislative Assembly
Special regional meeting in June
A special CPA Australian Region Management Committee meeting will be held at Parliament House in Canberra on 29 June 2012 and by teleconference to discuss the outcomes of the mid-year CPA Executive Committee and Working Party meetings held in Tonga in April. For more information contact the Australian Regional Secretary, Andres Lomp, at email firstname.lastname@example.org or phone +61 2 6277 4339.
Pacific partnerships deliver projectsTraining attachments, needs assessments and skills development workshops have been delivered in recent months under the Pacific Parliamentary Partnerships program, a joint initiative of the CPA Australian Region and the UNDP with funding from AusAID. For a list of the most recent projects click here.
Fiona Simpson has been elected the new Queensland Speaker and also takes on the role of CPA Regional Representative. She will hold the position of regional representative until the Commonwealth Parliamentary Conference in 2013, when Norfolk Island will begin its three year term. Senator John Hogg (Commonwealth of Australia) and Barry House (Western Australia) are currently the other two regional representatives. Senator Hogg’s term as regional representative will conclude in September 2012 and Senator Helen Polley has been nominated by the Commonwealth Branch for the next three year term.
New Queensland Speaker Fiona Simpson MP has become a CPA Regional Representative.
The steering committee for Commonwealth Women Parliamentarians Australia held its annual planning workshop from 14 to 15 April 2012 on Norfolk Island. At the workshop the steering committee agreed on its action agenda for 2012-13 and adopted w.comm as its brand to promote its work among women parliamentarians and to women in the community. For a copy of the w.comm action agenda 2012-13 click here ( PDF 332kb)