The Parliamentarian
2018: Issue Three: 3Ds: Democracy, Development and Diversity

The Parliamentarian is the quarterly Journal of Commonwealth Parliaments published by the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA) and features articles and news written by Members of Parliament and Parliamentary staff across the Commonwealth about international issues.

Democratic freedoms can never be taken for granted and we all have a role to play in protecting our democratic rights and liberties. Many of these freedoms are enshrined in laws, treaties, rules and charters – however many of these freedoms are unwritten rules and conventions that have developed over time. The Commonwealth Charter provides a framework for these democratic freedoms. The Commonwealth Charter expresses the commitment of member states to the development of free and democratic societies and the promotion of peace and prosperity to improve the lives of all peoples of the Commonwealth. The Charter also acknowledges the role of civil society in supporting the goals and values of the Commonwealth.

The Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA) has focused recently on the three Ds – democracy, development and diversity – as a means of promoting the values of the Commonwealth, particularly to young people. Our Parliaments and Parliamentarians have a key role to play in the protection of democracy’s conventions and in promoting democracy, development and diversity.

This issue of The Parliamentarian reports on a wide range of topics that have affected all nine regions of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association.

The Chairperson of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA) Executive Committee, Hon. Emilia Monjowa Lifaka, MP (Cameroon) reflects on Parliamentarians’ shared democratic goals as she addresses the 44th Parliamentary Assembly of La Francophonie - L’Assemblée Parlementaire de la Francophonie (APF) in Québec, Canada. Following the recent elections in Malaysia, Hon. Dr Dato’ Noraini Ahmad, MP, Chairperson of the Commonwealth Women Parliamentarians (CWP) and Member of the Parliament of Malaysia writes about the importance of protecting democracy and equal representation and the hope that the outcomes of the recent election will see more women taking part in politics. Hon. Anġelo Farrugia, MP, Chairperson of the CPA Small Branches (Malta) highlights the role of the Commonwealth and the CPA in promoting the three Ds – democracy, development and diversity – and how these aspects combine to underpin the Commonwealth’s key values. The CPA Secretary-General, Mr Akbar Khan in his View article writes about the important role of the CPA in contributing to the rules-based international order.

This issue of The Parliamentarian features several news reports about the CPA and Commonwealth activities including: the CPA Post-Election Seminar and CPA Roadshow in Nevis; CPA Branch visits to Guyana and Jamaica; the 43rd Regional Conference of the CPA Caribbean, Americas and Atlantic Region in the Cayman Islands; the first CPA India Regional zone meeting in Uttarakhand; the Post-CHOGM workshop focusing on women’s economic empowerment; and the 56th CPA Canada Regional Conference in Ottawa. This issue also features a report about the new Parliament building opened in the Caribbean island of Grenada.

More than a decade on from the launch of the CPA Recommended Benchmarks for Democratic Legislatures by the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association and its partners, a new body of work is being undertaken to revise and update the Parliamentary Benchmarks to reflect the changed landscape in which democracies now operate. The updated CPA Benchmarks will also include measurements for Parliaments to support the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the recommendations contained in the Commonwealth Charter. This issue of The Parliamentarian reports on the joint study group convened in June 2018 to undertake a review of the CPA Recommended Benchmarks for Democratic Legislatures with representatives from six of the nine CPA Regions – Asia, Australia; British Islands and Mediterranean; Canada; India; Pacific – as well as leading experts in the field of parliamentary strengthening.

This issue of The Parliamentarian features a report of the 49th Presiding Officers and Clerks Conference (POCC) for the CPA Pacific and Australia Regions which took place in Wellington, New Zealand in July 2018 as well as several of the papers presented by Speakers, Members and Clerks at this conference on the themes of parliamentary development.

Hon. Tony Smith, MP, Speaker of the Australian House of Representatives (Australia Federal) writes about the ‘High and exacting demands’ on the Speaker and his reflections on preparing for the role of Chair of a large Parliament. Tom Duncan, Clerk of the Legislative Assembly for the Australian Capital Territory contrasts this with an article on the role of a Speaker in a small legislature and highlights that it is ‘more than just points of order’. Hon. Kezia Purick, MLA, Speaker of the Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory, Australia examines the Speaker’s role in dealing with disorderly behaviour in the Chamber.

In his paper presented to delegates at the POCC in Wellington, Hon. John Ajaka, MLC, President of the Legislative Council of the Parliament of New South Wales highlights the significance of the Introduction of the Aboriginal Languages Bill and the sensitive role that the Parliament played. Hon. Bruce Atkinson, MLC, President of the Legislative Council looks at the role of the Crossbench and the balance of power in the Parliament of Victoria, Australia. Hon. Joy Burch, MLA, Speaker of the Legislative Assembly for the Australian Capital Territory looks at the representation of women in the Legislative Assembly and states ‘you can’t be what you can’t see’.

Moving away from the POCC in Wellington, this issue of The Parliamentarian features an article by Hon. Syed Naveed Qamar, MP (National Assembly of Pakistan) about new legislation introduced in Pakistan to protect Transgender rights inspired by the work of the Parliamentarians for Global Action (PGA). Mr Zafarullah Khan, Executive Director of the Pakistan Institute for Parliamentary Services (PIPS) writes about the historic moment in parliamentary communications in Pakistan with the launch of the PTV Parliament channel in Islamabad.

This issue features a report of the parliamentary staff developing their skills to meet the impact of the Fourth Industrial Revolution at the 3rd SoCATT Africa Region Development Seminar in Namibia, with the report provided by Immanuel Kooper, Chief Information Officer at the National Council of the Parliament of Namibia. Alex Christopoulos, Deputy Chief Executive of international children’s charity, Lumos, highlights the role that Legislators can play in tackling global orphanage trafficking.

V. K. Babu Prakash, Secretary of the Kerala Legislative Assembly (Kerala, India) writes about the legislative procedures on law, rules and delegated legislation in the Parliament of India and in the State of Kerala.

A number of significant anniversaries in the history of women’s suffrage and the passing of significant equality legislation have been marked across the Commonwealth this year. As the Canadian Federal Parliament marks the centenary of women voting in the federal elections in Canada, Hon. Yasmin Ratansi, MP, Chairperson of the CPA Canada Federal Branch provides a historical perspective of women’s right to vote in Canada and examines the level of women’s representation in Canadian Parliaments and Provincial Assemblies today. The Parliament of the United Kingdom is also celebrating the centenary year for women’s vote in 2018 and The Parliamentarian reports on the recent presentation of a historic picture of the first woman elected to the UK House of Commons in 1918 from the Parliament of Ireland. This issue of The Parliamentarian also features reports of the Commonwealth Women Parliamentarians (CWP) regional activities in the Caribbean, Americas and Atlantic; Canada; and Africa Regions.   

The Parliamentary Report and Third Reading section in this issue includes parliamentary and legislative news from Canada Federal, British Columbia, Québec, India, New Zealand, Sri Lanka, Australia Federal and the United Kingdom. 

We look forward to hearing your feedback and comments on this issue of The Parliamentarian, on the issues of concern to Parliamentarians across the Commonwealth and to receive your future contributions.

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