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Tuesday, 11 May 2004
Page: 28301


Mr Brereton asked the Minister representing the Minister for Defence, upon notice, on 11 March 2004:

Can the Minister confirm that the Australian Government is engaged in discussions or negotiations with the United States Government with a view to making an agreement concerning the exchange of defence personnel; if so, (a) when did these discussions or negotiations commence, (b) what are the broad elements of the proposed agreement, (c) what is the current status of these discussion or negotiations, (d) when is it anticipated they will be concluded, and (e) what elements of the Department of Defence are involved in these discussions/negotiations.


Mr Brough (Minister for Employment Services and Minister Assisting the Minister for Defence) —The Minister for Defence has provided the following answer to the honourable member's question:

(1) Yes. Defence is engaged in informal discussions with the United States (US) Department of Defense regarding a US requirement that Defence personnel exchange and liaison arrangements be carried out under legally binding international agreements.

(a) In 1998, the US Department of Defense advised Australia that, by law, the US is required to carry out such arrangements pursuant to legally binding international agreements.

(b) The broad approach for the proposed agreement has yet to be agreed with the US.

(c) Informal discussions are continuing in order to allow Australian and US officials to approach formal negotiations with an understanding of each party's position.

(d) There is currently no time frame.

(e) The Defence Legal Service is responsible for pursuing these discussions. Defence has also consulted with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and the Attorney-General's Department.