About the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association

Australia Region

Australia is one of the founding members of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA). There are nine Australia Region branches: Australian Capital Territory; Commonwealth of Australia; New South Wales; Northern Territory; Queensland; South Australia; Tasmania; Victoria; and Western Australia.

The Australia Region Management Committee for the CPA comprises representatives from each of the branches and meets on an annual basis to consider the forward program of activities for the CPA in the region. This includes regional conferences, which are usually held in conjunction with the Pacific Region of the CPA. Queensland is currently the chair of the Australia Region Management Committee. The Chair rotates annually among the Region’s branches.

Three Regional Representatives from each CPA Region sit on the CPA International Executive Committee. The current Australian representatives are: Senator Hon Sue Lines, President of the Senate (Commonwealth Parliament of Australia) and Hon Mark Shelton MP, Speaker of the Legislative Assembly (Tasmania).

The Australia Region also has a Commonwealth Women Parliamentarians (CWP) Steering Committee comprising one female parliamentarian from each branch. The Committee plans the work of CWP in the Region. The current Chair of CWP Australia is Hon Kate Doust MLC from the Legislative Council of Western Australia. More information on CWP Australia Region can be obtained from the CWP website.

CWP Australia Region

Joy Burch MLA
Speaker of the Australian Capital Territory Legislative Assembly

Speaker Burch was first elected to the Australian Capital Territory Legislative Assembly in the Brindabella electorate at the 2008 election. Upon entering the Assembly, Speaker Burch was appointed Government Whip, Assistant Speaker and ALP Caucus Secretary. A year later, Speaker Burch was appointed to Cabinet, held a number of Ministerial positions over the following seven year period. Speaker Burch was elected as Speaker of the Australian Capital Territory Legislative Assembly after the 2016 general election, and re-elected speaker after the 2020 general election.

Prior to being elected to the Legislative Assembly, Speaker Burch was a registered nurse. She worked for several years as a community nurse across southern NSW and the ACT. Speaker Burch lived for several years in Alice Springs, as the Executive Director of the Australian Rural Health Education Network, as Executive Director of the Northern Territory Remote Workforce Agency and as the CEO of the Rural Health and Community Support Services. She also was the owner and operator of a Childcare Centre. Speaker Burch has formal tertiary education, with a Bachelor of Arts in Liberal Studies, and Post-Graduate qualifications in Health Administration and Information Systems Management.

The Australian Region Management Committee (ARMC) manages the affairs of the CPA Australia Region in accordance with the Regional Rules. The position of Chair is rotated between the branches and appointed annually serving from the annual ARMC meeting until the following ARMC when the next Chair commences their term.

Senator the Hon Sue Lines
President of the Senate, Commonwealth Parliament of Australia

Senator Lines has been a Senator for Western Australia since 2013. Senator Lines was born in Western Australia and graduated from Armadale Senior High School before obtaining a Bachelor of Education from Murdoch University.

Senator Lines joined the Labor Party in 1983 while studying at university and began working at United Voice (now United Workers Union) in 1987 as an organiser. In 2000 she became the Assistant Branch Secretary of United Voice WA and then the National Assistant Secretary in 2007. She has also worked as a teacher and a community organiser.

Senator Lines was chosen to fill a casual vacancy in the Senate caused by the resignation of Senator Chris Evans in May 2013. She was re-elected to the Senate at the 2016 Federal Election. In August 2016 she was elected Deputy Senate President.

Prior to becoming a Senator, she was appointed to the Australian Children's Education and Care Quality Authority (ACECQA), the Aged Care Funding Authority (ACFA) and the NDIS Workforce and Sector Capacity Expert Group.

Senator Lines enjoys volunteering and has a long history of involvement in community groups including the local fire brigade, early childhood education and care organisations and committees, volunteer netball and T-ball coach, WA Children’s Week Committee member and a board member of the WA Lady Gowne Association.

She remains a proud member of United Workers Union.

The Hon Mark Shelton MP
Speaker of the House of Assembly, Parliament of Tasmania

Mark was first elected to the House of Assembly in March 2010 as the Member for Lyons.

He and his wife Merrilyn live in the small township of Bracknell and they have three adult children and seven grandchildren. Mark has a very strong background in primary industries, operating a 200 acre property at Bracknell with his brother.

Marks maintains a strong desire and passion to work hard for regional Tasmania and the continued development of our small businesses, agriculture and forestry sectors. He knows the importance of a secure job and a community that supports its own.

Since his election to the House of Assembly in 2010, Mark has held a number of positions in the Liberal Government including:

  • Current Speaker of the House of Assembly;
  • Deputy Speaker of the House of Assembly and Chair of Committees;
  • Parliamentary Secretary to the Premier;
  • Parliamentary Secretary for Regional Development;
  • Minister for Police, Fire and Emergency Management; Minister for Local Government; and
  • On numerous committees including the Tasmanian Parliament Privileges Committee, Government Business Enterprise Estimates Committee, Integrity Committee, Community Development Committee, Firearms Committee, Public Works Committee, the House of Assembly Restoration Bill Committee, Parliamentary inquiry into the sale of TOTE and was the only Opposition member ever to chair an Estimates committee in the history of the Tasmanian Parliament.

  • He also held the shadow portfolios of Police and Emergency Services, Sport & Recreation, Racing, Consumer Affairs, Forestry and Regional Development in Opposition.

    From 2003 to 2010 Mark was the Mayor of the Meander Valley Council, and as a former TAFE and Adult Education teacher in automotive studies, he is passionate about developing the skills through education that the next generation will need. He has also extensive experience in managing small businesses.

    Mark is Patron and supporter of many sporting organisations and with a long sporting career in both football and cricket; he is a big believer in participation in team sports, not just for the physical and social benefits, but for the mental health benefits as well.

    He is also a passionate supporter of many charities, and in 2021 Mark completed a second 200 kilometre fundraising walk from Launceston to Hobart to raise funds for the statewide disability support service St Giles and was able to raise more than $20,000 on each occasion for the charity. St Giles provides caring and professional support to Tasmanian families who have loved ones with a disability.

    Hon Kate Doust MLC
    Chairperson of the Commonwealth Women Parliamentarians (CWP) Australia Region

    Kate Doust was first elected to the Legislative Council of Western Australia in 2001 . Ms Doust was elected President of the Legislative Council in May 2017, the first woman to be elected as President of the Legislative Council in Western Australia. As the first woman Presiding Officer of the Parliament, she introduced International Women’s Day Celebrations to the Parliament and the establishment of a family room for members and staff of the Parliament of Western Australia.

    Kate is the inaugural winner of the Commonwealth Parliamentarian of the Year Award 2022, in recognition of her long parliamentary service as well as working to promote women and people with disabilities in her community. The award also recognises her contributions to the work of the CPA (including acting as a Mentor during programmes), her commitment to the diversity of her community, the work she has undertaken in addressing and combatting domestic violence, and her approach in embracing innovation and new ideas in the Parliament of Western Australia. Kate has a keen interest in supporting women in the workplace and is a champion for women in science and technology.

    The CWP network provides a means of building the capacity of women elected to Parliament to be more effective in their roles, improving the awareness and ability of all Parliamentarians, male and female, and encouraging them to include a gender perspective in all aspects of their role - legislation, oversight and representation and helping Parliaments to become gender-sensitive institutions.

    Speaker Joy Burch MLA
    Chair of the Small Branches Network

    In August 2022 she was appointed Chair of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association Small Branches network.

    Previously the network’s Vice-Chair, Ms Burch takes on this significant role in addition to her responsibilities as Speaker of the Australian Capital Territory Legislative Assembly and member for Brindabella.

    The Small Branches network, established in 1981, is a group of 43 of the world’s smallest national-and state-level parliaments, harnesses the collective power of small legislatures to tackle big problems. The group also supports new, often small, parliaments to develop strong, resilient democratic processes.

    Ms Liesl Tesch AM MP
    Commonwealth Parliamentarians with Disabilities (CPwD) Network Regional Champion

    Ms Tesch is a member of the New South Wales Legislative Assembly, elected to represent the seat of Gosford in the 2017 election.

    Ms Tesch became an incomplete paraplegic after a mountain bike accident at the age of 19..

    She competed in her national wheelchair basketball team at five paralympics, winning three medals, and was the first woman to play the sport professionally.

    She took up sailing in 2010, winning gold medals at the 2012 London and 2016 Rio Paralympics.

    Before entering politics, Ms Tesch worked as a high school teacher. In 2010, she co-founded Sports Matters, a charity that promotes sport for people with disabilities in developing countries.

    The CPwD network was established by the CPA to support Parliamentarians with disabilities to be more effective in their roles and to help improve awareness of disability issues amongst all Parliamentarians and parliamentary staff.

    To find out more about the Commonwealth Parliamentarians with Disabilities (CPwD) network, please click here.


    The CPA is an international community of Commonwealth Parliaments and Legislatures working together to deepen the Commonwealth’s commitment to the highest standards of democratic governance and parliamentary practice. The Association is made up of over 180 legislatures divided up between nine geographic regions of the Commonwealth: Africa, Asia, Australia, British Islands and Mediterranean (BIM), Canada, the Caribbean, the Americas and Atlantic (CAA), India, the Pacific, South-East Asia. Each region engages in its own programme of activities. It offers a vast opportunity for Parliamentarians and parliamentary staff to collaborate on issues of mutual interest and to share good practice.

    The CPA includes Commonwealth Women Parliamentarians (CWP), which encourages female representation in parliaments and consideration of gender issues within CPA programs and activities. A steering committee for the CWP, comprising one representative from each region, plans the forward work program of the CWP. The current Chairperson of the CWP Steering Committee is the Hon. Dr Zainab Gimba MP, Federal Parliament of Nigeria.

    9 Regions

    180 Branches

    54 Countries

    17000 Members

    Rt Hon Alban Bagbin MP

    President of the Association
    Speaker of the Parliament of Ghana

    Rt Hon Alban Bagbin is the Speaker of the Parliament of Ghana (Speaker of 8th Parliament of the Fourth Republic), and has held the role since 7 January 2021. He was previously the Second Deputy Speaker of Parliament (2017-2021). He was elected as the Member of Parliament for Nadowli North Constituency (1993-2005) and subsequently for Nadowli West Constituency (2005-2021). He also held the position of Minister for Health (2012-2013) and Minister for Water Resources, Works and Housing (2010-2012). Prior to his election, he worked as a lawyer and was the acting Secretary to the Statistical Service Board at the Bureau of Statistics and Statistical Service. He also taught English in Libya.

    Education: Bachelor of Arts degree in Law and English at the University of Ghana; Executive Masters in Governance and Leadership from the Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration (GIMPA).

    Role of the President
    The CPA President was appointed on behalf of the CPA Ghana Branch ahead of the 66th Commonwealth Parliamentary Conference, due to be held in 2023 in Accra, Ghana. The President of the Association, is typically the Presiding Officer of the next CPC host branch. They act as the honorary head of the Association and their duties are to preside over the CPA General Assembly and to Chair the Elections Committee.

    Hon Matthew Mason-Cox MLC

    Vice-President of the Association
    President of the New South Wales Legislative Council

    Hon. Matthew Mason-Cox, MLC is the President of the New South Wales Legislative Council since May 2021. He was first elected in 2006 and has held several parliamentary positions including Deputy Leader of the Liberal Party and Minister for Fair Trading.

    Role of the Vice-President
    The CPA Vice-President was appointed on behalf of the CPA New South Wales Branch. The CPA Vice-President is typically the Presiding Officer of the host branch of the next but one Commonwealth Parliamentary Conference. As New South Wales is due to host the 67th Commonwealth Parliamentary Conference in 2024, the role falls to one of the Presiding Officers of the Parliament of New South Wales.

    Hon Ian Liddell-Grainger MP

    Chairperson of the CPA Executive Committee
    Member of the UK Parliament

    Hon. Matthew Mason-Cox, MLC is the President of the New South Wales Legislative Council since May 2021. He was first elected in 2006 and has held several parliamentary positions including Deputy Leader of the Liberal Party and Minister for Fair Trading.

    Role and Powers of the Chairperson

    The role and authority of the Chairperson of the CPA Executive Committee emanates from the Constitution of the CPA. As a document it serves to identify the aims, responsibilities and divisions of power between the various bodies of the Association. Although not the most supreme body of the Association, the CPA Executive Committee is empowered to lead and manage the Association’s affairs and is accountable to the General Assembly of the Association.

    The role of the Chairperson is to be a spokesperson for the Association at relevant forums; provide leadership and direction to the CPA Executive Committee; and provide ongoing support and guidance to the CPA Secretary-General.

    Stephen Twigg
    Secretary-General of the CPA

    Stephen Twigg was appointed as the 8th Secretary-General of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA) and took up this position from 1 August 2020.

    The CPA Secretary-General, Stephen Twigg is a former UK Parliamentarian, who was previously elected to the Parliament of the United Kingdom as a Member of Parliament from 1997 to 2005 (Enfield Southgate) and from 2010 to 2019 (Liverpool West Derby). During his parliamentary career, he held several senior positions including Chairperson of the International Development Select Committee, Minister for Schools and a range of Shadow Front Bench roles.

    Prior to his parliamentary career, Stephen Twigg studied at Balliol College, Oxford University, where he studied Philosophy, Politics and Economics. He became the youngest President of the National Union of Students in 1990-92 and was then elected as a Local Councillor in the London Borough of Islington. Following the 2019 General Election, Stephen Twigg was instrumental in setting up the International Parliamentary Network for Education and was actively involved in parliamentary strengthening with both Global Partners Governance and the Westminster Foundation for Democracy (WFD).

    The Secretary-General is appointed by the General Assembly of the Association on the nomination of the Executive Committee and is responsible to it through the Executive Committee.

    Commonwealth Women Parliamentarians (CWP)

    CWP was founded in 1989 to increase the number of female elected representatives in Parliaments and legislatures across the Commonwealth and to ensure that women’s issues are brought to the fore in parliamentary debate and legislation.

    The Commonwealth Women Parliamentarians (CWP) network provides a means of building the capacity of women elected to parliament to be more effective in their roles; improving the awareness and ability of all Parliamentarians, male and female, and encouraging them to include a gender perspective in all aspects of their role - legislation, oversight and representation and helping parliaments to become gender-sensitive institutions.

    Despite constituting half of the world’s population, women continue to be disproportionately represented in governance and at all levels of decision-making. Women historically and globally have been the subject of cultural and legal disabilities which have hindered women’s ability over generations to reach their full potential. Today, women participate in terms of real numbers in a minimal way in the political/parliamentary process despite their representation in populations globally. This reflects one of the last vestiges of the historical disproportion of female participation at the state and national levels of endeavour.

    To affirm its commitment to strengthen the participation of women in government and society, the Commonwealth Heads of Government committed themselves to gender equality in the Harare Commonwealth Declaration of 1991. This was anchored by the CW Plan of Action for Gender Equality 2005-2015 Plan of Action (PoA), which draws on international commitments for the realisation of women’s rights.

    Recognizing the need of increasing women’s representation in political institutions, CWP was founded by women delegates at the 1989 plenary CPA conference so women at future conferences could discuss ways to increase female representation in Parliament and work towards the mainstreaming of gender considerations in all CPA activities and programmes. In 2004, the group was formally recognized in the CPA Constitution and its elected Chairperson became part of the CPA Executive Committee.

    Small Branches

    The CPA Small Branches network represents the smallest jurisdictions in all regions of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA) to identify their particular needs and requirements in parliamentary strengthening, development and cooperation.

    The CPA has a long history of working with its Small Branches and since 1981, the CPA has held an annual CPA Small Branches Conference for Parliamentarians from some of the world’s smallest Parliaments and Legislatures to discuss their unique challenges.

    The CPA Small Branches members discuss political problems and the operation of democratic systems in some of the world’s smallest jurisdictions. The CPA Small Branches network uniquely brings together small national and sub-national jurisdictions across the Commonwealth.

    The CPA membership first elected a Chairperson of the Small Branches in 2016. The CPA Small Branches Chairperson represents the CPA Small Branches on the CPA Executive Committee. The current Acting CPA Small Branches Chairperson is Ms Joy Burch MLA, Speaker of the Australian Capital Territory Legislative Assembly.

    More information on the CPA at the international level can be obtained from the CPA HQ website

    CPA International