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President Bongbong Marcos to Address Australia’s Parliament on Feb 29

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Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. is set to address Australia’s federal parliament, symbolising the strengthening bonds between Canberra and Southeast Asian nations amid regional competition.

On Monday, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese announced that Marcos’s speech at a joint sitting of federal parliament will take place on 29 February, in what is considered to be a rare honour typically reserved for world leaders such as Barack Obama, George W. Bush, and Xi Jinping. This move follows Papua New Guinea Prime Minister James Marape’s recent address to the Australian parliament, showcasing Albanese’s efforts to enhance Indo-Pacific relationships through parliamentary diplomacy.

Albanese emphasised the significance of regional relationships, noting Marcos’s friendship with Australia and the importance of the Philippines in the region.

The upcoming ASEAN summit, to be held in Melbourne to commemorate 50 years of dialogue between Australia and ASEAN, further underscores the region’s strategic importance. With the ASEAN summit occurring during a period of heightened strategic competition, Albanese stressed the criticality of engaging with ASEAN nations for both domestic and international interests. Albanese’s meeting with Marcos in September 2023 marked the first bilateral visit by an Australian leader to the Philippines in two decades, solidifying the countries’ strategic partnership.

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Marcos’s address to the Australian parliament signifies a significant milestone in bilateral relations and reinforces Australia’s dedication to engaging with Southeast Asian nations in navigating regional challenges.  “We live in very uncertain times, we live in an era of strategic competition, including in our region,” he told parliament.

“Our most important relationships are here in our neighbourhood and the Philippines of course, is an important nation for us,” Mr Albanese said.

“President Marcos is a great friend of Australia, a supporter of democratic systems, and we look forward to welcoming him here.” Melbourne will host the special ASEAN summit to mark 50 years of dialogue between Australia and the organisation of Southeast Asian nations from March 4-6.

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