Coulton to visit Cambodia to oversee election

August 4, 2008

Federal Member for Parkes Mark Coulton recently went to Cambodia as part of a Parliamentary delegation that will scrutinise the South-east Asian nation’s general election.

Prior to leaving, Mr Coulton said he will be travelling to Cambodia as part of the bi-partisan delegation that will oversee the July 27 ballot on behalf of the Australian Government to ensure an independent and fair result.

Joining Mr Coulton on the eight day trip was Liberal MP Nola Marino, Labor MP Richard Marles and Greens Senator Rachel Siewert.

"It is a great honour for me to be able to represent the Australian Government, and in doing so the Australian people, on what is a very important occasion for the Cambodian people," he said.

"For many years Australia has been a staunch supporter of Cambodia’s move towards a more democratic society and this delegation is an extension of our commitment to see that happen."

According to Cambodia’s National Election Committee about 8.6 million Cambodians are registered to vote in the polls, the fourth since a United Nations peace plan heralded the end of one-party rule.

Mr Coulton said Cambodia is a country traditionally dogged by corruption – particularly in the political arena – which has contributed to a wide income disparity among its citizens and which could threaten to influence the forth-coming election.

"Voting will take place at more than 15,000 polling stations under the scrutiny of hundreds of international observers, so the hope is the Cambodian people can have the fair election they deserve," he said.

"Our election monitor team will work alongside an international coalition that includes representatives from the US and the European Union to observe the election campaign. We will then monitor polling on election day to help ensure the integrity of the process."

"While the predominate focus will be on overseeing the election, we will also be utilising the opportunity to undertake a diverse range of activities with the ultimate goal of strengthening our relationship with a fairly elected Cambodian Government," he said.

"Upon my return I will table a report outlining Cambodia’s electoral processes and any issues that may have arisen over the election period," he said.