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Tuesday, 19 August 2003
Page: 18863


Mr WILKIE (5:15 PM) —by leave—I commend the report to the House and would like to make some additional comments. In relation to the agreement with Sri Lanka for the promotion and protection of investments, I suggest that the committee understands that Australian educational institutions have already been established in Sri Lanka. There is also the opportunity for further development of investment initiatives in education between Sri Lanka and Australia, and the agreement would facilitate the growth in joint venture educational enterprises between both countries.

The three social security agreements—with Belgium, Chile and Slovenia—are in addition to Australia's existing network of 13 international social security agreements. The committee believes it is important that Australian residents are made aware of their rights under such international social security agreements. Further, Centrelink acknowledge that some people who have come into contact with them did not know about these agreements. While Centrelink noted that this was an issue, it has sometimes been quite difficult contacting people who may be eligible for benefits but who have not previously come into contact with Centrelink.

In relation to the agreement with Timor-Leste relating to the unitisation of the Sunrise and Troubadour fields, the committee tabled its report on the Timor Sea Treaty late last year. In that report the committee emphasised the importance of the international unitisation agreement arising from article 9 of that treaty, providing a framework which will allow for commercial development of the Greater Sunrise field to proceed. In the committee's 49th report, it also emphasised the importance of the Australian government in ensuring that occupational health and safety environmental standards that prevail in the JPDA are equivalent or superior to those applying in Australian jurisdictions already. The committee reiterates that these issues should be given prominence in the unit area to which the IUA applies. It was also acknowledged that the original treaty allows for ongoing negotiations in relation to the maritime boundary dispute. I believe those negotiations are currently being undertaken.

In relation to the agreement on medical treatment for temporary visitors from the Kingdom of Norway, the committee is concerned that the limited data collection and monitoring of eligible patients in Australia and Norway does not provide a realistic picture of the costs incurred by the agreement. The committee also recognises that, although there are a few situations in which Australians travelling to Norway could dispense with the need to take out travel insurance, there are significant benefits to people who are ineligible through age or pre-existing medical conditions for travel insurance cover. The committee, therefore, supports the agreement and urges the department to implement effective measures for accurate monitoring of usage under that agreement.

With regard to the Convention on Highly Migratory Fish Stocks in the Western and Central Pacific Ocean, I support the chair's comments in that the precautionary approach has not been defined with sufficient clarity in the treaty text. The committee believes that this could undermine the implementation of effective conservation measures by the commission. The establishment of the commission is critical, as there has been a move of the fishing capacity by distant water-fishing nations from the Northern Hemisphere into the western and central part of the Pacific Ocean. I acknowledge that we have a number of representatives of the fishing industry currently in the House.


Ms Julie Bishop —Tasmanian salmon.


Mr WILKIE —I look forward to receiving some input from them later, particularly in relation to Tasmanian salmon. With regard to the Fulbright agreement, I acknowledge that it is a simple, no-cost treaty action. I commend the report to the House.