So the Queensland Deputy is Anna BLIGHT???
TO MEET IN ADELAIDE
By GREG KELTON
SOUTH Australia is to stage the biggest Commonwealth political event outside CHOGM - the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting.
All 14 Canadian premiers will meet the eight Australian state and territory leaders here in 2008 in a conference on issues including trade, infrastructure and skills development. The Canadian leaders will bring with them business and media representatives.
The meeting, which will involve massive security arrangements, will be the first of its type and Premier Mike Rann described it as "a coup for SA". Mr Rann, who arranged the conference with Manitoba Premier Gary Doer, said the conferences would become regular events.
"It will certainly bring a lot of attention to SA," he said.
Full details, including security arrangements, would be worked out over the next 12 months.
The meeting was agreed to in Montreal yesterday after discussions between 11 Canadian leaders and representatives of five Australian states and territories.
The prime minister will be invited to the SA meeting, which the premiers say will focus on closer economic and trade links, joint promotion of Australian and Canadian life sciences industries and joint trade offices in other countries.
At the Montreal meeting with Mr Rann was Victorian Premier Steve Bracks, Queensland Deputy Premier Anna Blight, Federal-State Relations Minister Margaret Quirk, from WA, and ACT Police Minister John Hargreaves.
As well as establishing regular meetings, the leaders discussed economic development, trade and bio-technological research, transport infrastructure and post-secondary education and skills training.
In the communique released after the meeting, they said the issues discussed were "critical to both Canada and Australia, since Asia-Pacific countries present the two countries with increased market opportunities and growing international competitive pressures".
Mr Rann said Canada and Australia had close constitutional ties.
"We have all these MPs who go to Washington or the UK, but the country most similar to us in terms of constitutional issues such as federal-state relations is Canada," he said.
"We are almost mirror images of each other."
Mr Rann said SA also had signed a memorandum of understanding for a close relationship with the province of Manitoba. "In my discussions with Premier Doer, we discovered that because of their similarities, SA and Manitoba are facing many of the same challenges," he said.
Manitoba, in Canada's east, has an economy built on manufacturing, agriculture, hydroelectricity and mining.
Mr Rann said he and Mr Doer had signed an agreement providing for co-operation on a broad range of common priorities such as biotechnology, renewable energy and early childhood education, in which Manitoba is widely regarded as a world leader.
Government sources say the cost of the conference to SA will be minimal because most security arrangements will be met out of existing budgets and the travel and other costs of premiers will be met by their respective states and provinces.