Thursday, 07 May 2015
Ms COOK (Fisher) (14:56): My question is to the Minister for Investment and Trade. Could the minister please update the house on South Australia's trade links into South-East Asia and assistance with relief efforts into Nepal?
The Hon. M.L.J. HAMILTON-SMITH (Waite—Minister for Investment and Trade, Minister for Defence Industries, Minister for Veterans' Affairs) (14:56): I thank the member for Fisher for her question. I informed the house yesterday that significant progress had been made in developing the South-East Asia Engagement Strategy. Events today have demonstrated how the government's international engagement strategies have been of assistance in humanitarian efforts in the region. As members would be aware, a 7.8 magnitude earthquake in Nepal has killed more than 7,000 people and devastated rural communities, with hundreds of thousands losing their homes and possessions.
In Adelaide, the school community of Pulteney Grammar responded to provide special assistance to a school, an orphanage with which it has a long relationship. Pulteney Grammar has part funded the orphanage and associated school for many years, and a former Nepalese student of Pulteney Grammar in 2013-14, Ishwor Ghimire, who was supported during his time here by the Brownhill Creek Rotary Club, is back in Nepal and assisted with the post-earthquake evacuation of students from the damaged school.
In response to his call for help, two parents from the Friends of Pulteney Grammar left today with tents and equipment for a one-month stay to assist the Nepalese students who are living in the open, and the pictures are quite dramatic. Although some allowance had been made for excess baggage—around 20 kilograms—the Malaysia Airlines local office was unable to waive excess baggage fees amounting to more than $5,000. After discussions with Malaysia Airlines in Adelaide and the local manager, the government was able to contact the head office of Malaysia Airlines in Kuala Lumpur, from where I have just returned, and the Australian High Commission in KL was called to assist.
Melissa Hutchings from the High Commission was able to confirm with the Malaysia Airlines Director Commercial that there would be a waiver of the excess baggage charges. This morning Lynn Rawson and Joanne Bourchier were able to board the flight to KL and then to Kathmandu.
Ms Redmond interjecting:
The Hon. M.L.J. HAMILTON-SMITH: In the event that they have any further difficulty along the way, the government has given them a letter of introduction to the Australian High Commission in Kuala Lumpur, where staff will be available to assist.
The SPEAKER: The member for Heysen is warned for the second and final time.
The Hon. M.L.J. HAMILTON-SMITH: The success so far of this relief effort is testament to the ability of our trade officials to work in a humanitarian way in concert with the state government. It was only last week that the Australian High Commission in Thailand assisted in the evacuation of earthquake survivors to Bangkok on a C-17, and I was present at that time. The South Australian government congratulates the Pulteney school community, Malaysia Airlines and the excellent staff serving with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and Austrade and all in the state government who assisted, particularly the generous citizens of Adelaide who have assisted Pulteney to help those devastated by the earthquake in Nepal.