The Speaker Urban Ahlin led a delegation to New Zealand and Australia between 27 August and 7 September. The focus during the visit was on defence and security issues, disaster and crisis management and environmental issues.
The delegation visited Auckland, Christchurch and Wellington in New Zealand. Meetings with the Speaker of the parliament David Carter, MPs, the mayors of the three cities and various organisations were all on the agenda. In Christchurch, the delegation had the opportunity to find out about how people have worked to rebuild the city following the major earthquake in 2011, as well as how the authorities coordinate their crisis preparations. The delegation also met with representatives of the Maori tribe Ngāi Tahu.
A visit was also made to Victoria University for a round-table discussion, Devonport Naval Base and the International Antarctic Centre where the delegation discussed issues concerning how the Arctic is responding to climate change and its consequences. In Australia, the delegation visited Canberra, Sydney and Cairns. The programme included meetings with the Speakers of both Chambers: President of the Senate Stephen Parry and Speaker of the House of Representatives Tony Smith, as well as MPs. The delegation also met Minister for Foreign Affairs Julie Bishop, Minister for Trade Steven Ciobo and other representatives of the government and opposition in Sydney, as well as the Governor of New South Wales and the Deputy Speaker of the New South Wales Assembly.
Examples of other activities on the agenda included a meeting with the Swedish-Australian Parliamentary Friendship Association, a visit to James Cook University in Cairns for discussions about environment and climate-related issues and a visit in Cairns to the HMAS Royal Australian Navy base. The delegation also visited Daintree Rainforest, which is the world’s oldest tropical rainforest, and were given information about Aboriginal culture. The delegation was also invited to participate as guests in two round-table discussions at two think-thanks: the Lowy Institute for International Policy in Sydney and the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) in Canberra. In Canberra, the delegation visited the War Memorial for a wreath-laying ceremony remembering those fallen in wars in which Australia has been involved.
During the trip to Australia, the Speaker also spoke at the opening of the ‘Swedish Dads’ exhibition, which highlights the issue of equal distribution of parental leave, at the opening of Business Sweden’s new office in Sydney and at the opening of the Swedish Embassy’s ‘Solander Garden’ project, which celebrates the Swedish naturalist Daniel Solander (1733-1782).
The Speaker’s delegation consisted of Riksdag members Åsa Lindestam (Social Democratic Party) and Sven-Olof Sällström (Sweden Democrats) and Secretary-General of the Riksdag Kathrin Flossing.