HIGH-LEVEL AUSTRALIAN PARLIAMENTARY DELEGATION VISITS THE PHILIPPINES
As part of a growing series of political-level exchanges between Australia and the Philippines, a senior Australian Parliamentary delegation is visiting the Philippines until 6 October 2007.
The delegation, led by Senate President the Hon Alan Ferguson (left), also includes Senators the Hon Sandy Macdonald and Linda Kirk, as well as Mr Harry Jenkins MP of the House of Representatives. The Philippine Senate is hosting the visit and the delegation had fruitful discussions with Senate President Manny Villar (above) and Speaker of the House of Representatives the Hon Jose de Venecia during their stay in Manila, and will also hold high-level meetings at Malacañang, the National Economic Development Authority and the Departments of Foreign Affairs, National Defence, Trade and Industry, and Environment and Natural Resources. The delegation also toured Bohol to get a first-hand look at some of Australia's community assistance projects, Bohol's world famous tourism sites and to meet local government officials including Governor Aumentado.
Senate President Ferguson said that "this visit is mainly about continuing the upsurge in political contacts between our two countries. The bilateral relationship between Australia and the Philippines is growing from strength to strength. We have a $A100 million aid program which continues to expand, as well as close defence and security ties. President Arroyo visited Australia twice this year and Filipino migrants continue to make a strong contribution to the Australian way of life. We're also very hopeful of expanding the number of Filipino students who choose to study in Australia". The Senator added that the delegation had been impressed with the vibrancy and friendliness of the Philippine culture and people. Australian Ambassador to the Philippines, HE Tony Hely, noted that the visit had come at an important time. "Australian companies are looking to play their part in boosting investment levels in the Philippines, especially in the potentially highly promising mining and resources sector."
The visit is a product of a bilateral ministerial commitment in 2005 to increase the number and depth of political exchanges between Australia and the Philippines, and follows a series of two-way visits of young political leaders that have taken place since 2006.