Page 2991 - Week 10 - Tuesday, 15 September 2015

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skills of your young people, so much the treasures of Taiwan. It sparked a few memories from our recent trip, and occurring over dinner time it made us most hungry.

With regards to the delegation I was privileged to have accompanied other members from this Assembly on, I thank the local Taipei Economic and Cultural Office for the generous offer of sponsoring our travel for this trip. It was a great eye-opener not just to see how Taiwan as a country and particularly Taipei as a city function but also as elected representatives of the ACT to have the opportunity to travel abroad, to get experiences from other cultures, jurisdictions and municipalities and to see what best practice is overseas, what opportunities exist for collaboration and to figure out how we can best apply that here in the ACT.

The trip was over four days and it crammed in a sensational list of meetings and engagements. The first day we were treated to the delights of the National Palace Museum in Taipei where a great deal of the national treasures are held. I guess it is their equivalent to our National Gallery and National Museum, but a lot of their artefacts date back some thousands of years, not hundreds of years. It was most humbling to be given a guided tour and an explanation of the cultural significance of many of these artefacts.

The first day continued on. We had a very constructive meeting with the Australian trade office in Taipei where we met with the head of mission, Ms Catherine Raper. We spoke about a lot of the economic factors with Taiwan being the eighth largest trading partner of Australia in its own right. It is important to recognise the importance of Taiwan to Australia and also to recognise the opportunities that exist given the knowledge economy we are developing in the ACT and the high-tech manufacturing capabilities in Taiwan.

Dr Bourke has spoken of some of the renewable energy opportunities that exist. I was a little disappointed that we did not get the opportunity to keep all of the high-tech manufacturing appointments we had made, but Mr White’s health obviously took priority, and I am glad he is making a full recovery. The other disappointing portion of the trip was missing out on meeting with the corrections ministry and visiting one of their corrections facilities. Again, that coincided with an impromptu trip to the Hsinchu hospital where we saw the emergency department in action first hand. They operate a vastly different health system to what we are used to here in the ACT.

The portion of the trip which I found most eye-opening and which gave me the greatest insight into the national identity of Taiwan as a country was our day trip to Kinmen Island, which was the front line in the cold war between mainland China and Taiwan that occurred for many years. It was humbling to see the proximity of this island to mainland China and to learn of the great service of many Taiwanese men and women in their military to try and defend not just Kinmen Island but the democracy and the freedoms the country holds very dear. It was a great eye-opener and something I very much treasured and appreciated.

I conclude my remarks by again thanking the local Taipei Economic and Cultural Office and Mr Frank Lee who accompanied us on this trip. I thank him very much for his capable guidance and generosity.

Sitting suspended from 11.26 am to 2.30 pm.

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