Member for Bennelong, Jerome Laxale and Member for Bradfield, Paul Fletcher, have been appointed as the conveners of the Australia-Armenia Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) for the 47th term of Australia’s Parliament, reported the Armenian National Committee of Australia (ANC-AU).
The Australia-Armenia Inter-Parliamentary Union is a group of elected federal political representatives committed to enhancing Australia and Armenia friendship through the two nations’ parliaments. This key initiative of the ANC-AU has been re-formed for the third successive parliament and will enjoy the stewardship of Laxale as Chair on behalf of the Government and Fletcher as Vice-Chair on behalf of the Opposition.
They take over from Trent Zimmerman and Joel Fitzgibbon, who had convened the group since its inception until their departure from federal politics at the 2022 elections. During their terms, the IPU was instrumental in presenting the views of the Armenian-Australian community on key issues of importance, hosting incoming delegations from the Republics of Armenia and Artsakh, as well as leading the first federal delegation to Armenia in 2019.
Jerome Laxale replaced a member of that delegation to Armenia, John Alexander as the Member for Bennelong following the 2022 Australian Federal election. Laxale represents the most densely Armenian-populated federal electorate. As the former Mayor of the City of Ryde, Laxale championed many efforts to ensure his municipality was bi-partisan in their support for Armenian Genocide recognition and the rights to self-determination of the Republic of Artsakh, helping establish a friendship city relationship between Ryde and Stepanakert.
The Manager of Opposition Business in the House of Representatives and former Communications Minister of Australia, Paul Fletcher joins Laxale in the leadership of the IPU after a political career of consistently supporting Armenian-Australian issues of importance. Fletcher was the first federal parliamentarian to speak for the rights of self-determination of the Armenians of the Republic of Artsakh and has earned the Armenian-Australian Community’s Friend of the Year and the Armenian National Committee Freedom Award for his staunch advocacy since his election as the Member for Bradfield in 2009.
“We would like to thank Mr. Jerome Laxale and Mr. Paul Fletcher for accepting our request to lead the Australia-Armenia Inter-Parliamentary Union for the 47th Parliament, for their willingness to work together in a bi-partisan manner to advance issues of concern to our community, and strive to improve ties between Australia and Armenia,” said ANC-AU Executive Director, Michael Kolokossian.
“These gentlemen have an outstanding track record of supporting Armenian-Australian issues throughout their respective political careers and we firmly believe they will continue to champion strengthening relations between the two countries at a parliamentary level, standing up for the rights of Artsakh and seeing through the progress made towards Federal recognition of the Armenian Genocide,” added Kolokossian.
Laxale took to social media last week to share his excitement following his appointment, posting: “Friends, I am very proud to confirm that I have been made Chair of the Australian-Armenian Inter-Parliamentary Union. In my 10 years in public life, it has been an honour to work with our large local Armenian-Australian community and understand the issues that matter to them. In my role as Councillor and Mayor I’ve worked in a bi-partisan nature to be a strong advocate for the local Armenian community.”
In response to the ANC-AU’s appeal to Federal MPs and Senators to join the Australia-Armenia Inter-Parliamentary Union, 27 Federal Parliamentarians joined, including Senator the Hon. Simon Birmingham, Mr Josh Burns MP, Ms Alison Byrnes MP, Hon. Dugald Dick MP, Mr Steven Georganas MP, Hon. Andrew Hastie MP, Mr Julian Hill MP, Hon. Kevin Hogan MP, Senator Hollie Hughes, Senator the Hon. Susan Lines, Hon. Michael McCormack MP, Senator the Hon. James McGrath, Senator Deborah O’Neill MP, Senator Fatima Payman, Senator the Hon. Marise Payne, Mr Graham Perrett MP, Hon. Keith Pitt MP, Senator Louise Pratt, Hon. Stuart Robert MP, Ms Joanne Ryan MP, Hon. Bill Shorten MP, Ms Zali Steggall OAM, MP Ms Kylea Tink MP, Ms Maria Vamvakinou MP and Mr Antonio Zappia MP.