Local, Independant and Effective

Rural City of Wangaratta sister city relationship with Suzhou recognised for economic opportunities

Posted October 21, 2016


Ms McGOWAN (Indi) (10:43): I would like to acknowledge the Minister for Foreign Affairs. My constituency statement today is about the sister relationship between my town of Wangaratta and China. A delegation consisting of the Chair of Administrators, Ailsa Fox, and the acting CEO from Wangaratta, Alan Clark, visited China as part of Victoria's Regional Cities Delegation between 18 and 23 September 2016, and six of Victoria's 10 regional cities were part of that program.

Our sister city relationship is with Jiangsu province. Its capital is Nanjing and it adjoins to the west and north of Shanghai. Wangaratta's sister city relationship is with Suzhou, which is the second largest city in Jiangsu province and abuts Shanghai. It has a population of 14.5 million and an urban population of 4.5 million. It is growing at rate of 6.5 per cent per annum—it is a very significant region. Due to the many historic canals, stone bridges and pagodas, Suzhou is often referred to as the 'Venice of the East'.

I would particularly like to express my thanks today to the hosts—the people who looked after the Wangaratta delegation so well—and to give my commitment and that of my community to growing the relationship and doing what we can to improve not only people-to-people relationships but economic ties, education ties and growing our knowledge of each other's countries.

To all the people who took part in the delegation from the Chinese side, thank you very much. To the Vice Mayor, to the Director and Vice Director of the Foreign and Overseas Chinese Affairs Office and to our interpreter. The Wangaratta deputation was hugely impressed by the planning, the growth, the public transport and the emphasis on good environmental outcomes, and just how well the Chinese are doing in their city. All of this creates opportunities—opportunities for all types of businesses, big and small—but with the very clear message that we can grow these opportunities if we work together.

So thank you very much to the people who made this possible, and to the Victorian government for doing the infrastructure work—to the Victorian government, which recognises the importance of our regional cities and which recognises that opportunities for us to travel to China, for rural people to actually see how China is working, is really important. I would say to the foreign minister: please know that Wangaratta and Suzhou are very keen to grow the relationship. And if there are chances that we can work with you and your department, please know that we are very happy to do so.

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