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Commonwealth Secretary-General Thanks Australia for Leadership on Commonwealth Reform
Source: http://www.pina.com.fj
Source Date: Monday, April 15, 2013
Focus: Knowledge Management in Government
Country: Australia
Created: Apr 22, 2013

Commonwealth Secretary-General Kamalesh Sharma has commended Australia for its leadership as the current Commonwealth Chair-in-Office, a two-year position taken on by the host nation of each Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting. “The 2011 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Perth chaired by Prime Minister Julia Gillard was a watershed moment in agreeing on a roadmap of reform for the Commonwealth. Thanks to Australian leadership as Chair-in-Office in the last 18 months, we have rapidly achieved the ambitious modernisation of the Commonwealth expected by our leaders," Sharma said. The Secretary-General was commenting following his call on Prime Minister Gillard in Canberra on 12 April. The Secretary-General customarily calls on the Chair-in-Office once each year to provide a progress report on the Commonwealth Secretariat's work on behalf of all 54 member governments. “Australia's Prime Minister took the lead by being the first to table the new 'Charter of the Commonwealth' in Australia's Parliament, following its signature last month by HM Queen Elizabeth II, Head of the Commonwealth. Meanwhile, almost all of the reform recommendations of the Commonwealth Eminent Persons Group, which Commonwealth Heads of Government adopted at the Perth summit, have already been implemented or are on track to being implemented soon. We are close to the finishing line of giving full effect to the agreed recommendations of the Eminent Persons Group.”


The Secretary-General added: “The Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group is giving practical effect to its revised mandate to become a more active and positively engaged custodian of core Commonwealth political values. The Commonwealth's profile is being steadily raised with a significant uplift in public visibility about its values and principles. And our member governments collectively are on the verge of adopting a new Strategic Plan for the Commonwealth Secretariat. It will make the Secretariat tightly focussed on core strengths and more effective as an intergovernmental body in the years ahead," Mr Sharma said. The Secretary-General also updated the Prime Minister on other major new work being taken forward from the 2011 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting. This includes an expert group examining improved access to climate finance for small and vulnerable states, a high-level advocacy group on small states' debt, and a study into options for improving and easing the movement of Commonwealth citizens across borders between Commonwealth member states. “The Chair-in-Office has led the Commonwealth in raising our profile, maintaining an ambitious pace of reform, and encouraging progress towards stronger adherence to the Commonwealth's core values and principles. We are deeply appreciative of Australia's continued Commonwealth leadership at political and official levels,” the Secretary-General concluded. During the Secretary-General's visit to Canberra, he also met the Australian Secretary of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Peter Varghese, and the Director General of the Australian Government Overseas Aid Programme (AusAid), Peter Baxter.

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