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Monday, 18 March 2013
Page: 2276


Mrs PRENTICE (Ryan) (10:10): On behalf of the Joint Standing Committee on Treaties, I present the committee's report entitled Report 132: Treaties tabled on 18 September and 30 October 2012.

In accordance with standing order 39(f) the report was made a parliamentary paper.

Mrs PRENTICE: This report considers several important treaty actions for which the committee has supported and recommended that binding treaty action be taken. Firstly, the agreement establishing the African Development Fund and the agreement establishing the African Development Bank.

Joining these agreements will see Australia engage with and contribute to the African Development Bank and its subsidiary the African Development Fund, organisations which provide financial support and professional advice for economic and social improvement for developing countries in Africa. The ultimate objective is to reduce poverty and improve living conditions.

The Australian Agency for International Development, AusAID, has said that becoming a member would increase Australia's ability to participate in and influence Africa's development through these respected and credible institutions, increasing access to new networks in Africa. It will also allow Australia to contribute to the bank's governance and any ongoing reforms and improvements in their operational and developmental performance.

Secondly, the report covers the loan agreement between Australia and the International Monetary Fund, IMF, tabled on 30 October 2012. Australia has been a member of the IMF since 1947 and has assisted the IMF in its aim to promote growth and prosperity across the globe through activities including international monetary cooperation and trade expansion, among others.

This specific agreement's purpose is to put in place a temporary, voluntary credit arrangement allowing the IMF to borrow from Australia, enhancing the IMF's available resources for crisis prevention. Any drawings by the IMF under this agreement would be repayable in full and with interest.

The committee has investigated the likelihood of extra funding from Australia being required, which Treasury has indicated is 'not very high' given that extra funding would only be required if all other resources had been exhausted. The committee has noted that the IMF in the past has failed to either properly assess or properly respond to certain crises, including the Asian economic crisis of 1997-98, Argentina in 2001 and the global financial crisis in 2008-09. As such, the committee has expressed its disappointment with the IMF's previous failings and has requested that Treasury monitor the effectiveness and implementation of likely reforms to the IMF's governance.

Thirdly, the report covers the agreement between the government of Australia and the government of Japan on the security of information. This forms a part of the broader Australia-Japan relationship, particularly the security relationship which has grown since 2007. This agreement facilitates further cooperation on political and security related issues of relevance to both countries. The agreement will be implemented under the more recent Protective Security Policy Framework, which requires agencies to adhere to provisions of any international security-of-information agreements; however, the PSPF reforms will not affect Australia's ability to fulfil our obligations under this agreement.

The Treaties Committee has also approved a series of other treaties, including:

the 2012 Amendments to Annex I of the International Convention Against Doping in Sport of 19 October 2005;

amendments, adopted at London on 24 May 2012, to the Protocol of 1988 relating to the International Convention on Load Lines, 1966, as amended;

amendments, adopted at London on 25 May 2012, to the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea, 1973, as amended;

and the amendment, adopted on 1 October 1999, to Article XIV.A of the Statute of the International Atomic Energy Agency, IAEA.

This last minor treaty action allows the IAEA to move from annual budgeting to biennial budgeting, consistent with biennial programming throughout the United Nations system, which has proved to be more effective than annual budgeting. This move will not affect Australia's contributions to the IAEA, nor will it impose an additional financial burden on Australia. The committee has noted the fact that very few countries have adopted this proposal, a fact which has arisen not out of any particular concern from a particular country but rather is indicative of the administrative nature of the proposed amendment.

The committee concludes that all the treaties covered in report 132 should be supported with binding action. On behalf of the committee, I commend the report to the House.