ASEAN helps 50 years of stability: Wong

Opposition foreign affairs spokeswoman Penny Wong will reflect on 50 years of the 10-member Association of South East Asian Nations, in a speech in Myanmar.

Federal Labor is heaping praise on a club of southeast Asian nations for creating a diplomatic platform allowing great powers like the US and China to engage in neutral territory.

Opposition foreign affairs spokeswoman Penny Wong will deliver a speech to the Myanmar Institute of Strategic and International Studies in Yangon on Wednesday, reflecting on 50 years of ASEAN.

She'll argue the Association of South East Asian Nations has made extraordinary progress in establishing its credentials as a major regional and global actor in the political and strategic domain.

"The region has enjoyed remarkable stability for the past half century, and while economic co-operation remains a work in progress, considerable progress has been made in combating transnational crime, counter-terrorism, drug trafficking and money laundering," Senator Wong will say.

"So, to my mind, the real question is not just 'what has ASEAN achieved' but more 'where would we be without it?'"

Senator Wong will acknowledge there are many naysayers about ASEAN's consultative and conciliatory approach to issues which sometimes created barriers to progress.

"Those who have acquired a measure of impatience with ASEAN, for its avoidance of disagreement, have something of a point," she says.

"While tensions may be kept under the carpet, as they were in 1967, they still need to be dealt with, as they also were in 1967."

For ASEAN to grow and prosper over the next 50 years, it will need to address some major obstacles to economic growth and economic integration, she says.

Australia is set to host ASEAN leaders in Sydney in March next year for a special summit.