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Thursday, 18 August 2005
Page: 5


Senator SANTORO (9:49 AM) —On behalf of the Joint Standing Committee on Treaties, I present the 66th report of the committee entitled Treaties tabled on 7 December 2004, 15 March and 11 May 2005, together with the Hansard record of proceedings and minutes of proceedings. I move:

That the Senate take note of the report.

I seek leave to have my tabling statement incorporated in Hansard.

Leave granted.

The statement read as follows—

Report 66: Treaties tabled on 7 December 2004 (4), 15 March and 11 May 2005:

  • United Nations Convention against Corruption
  • Treaty between Australia and New Zealand Establishing Certain Exclusive Economic Zone Boundaries and Continental Shelf Boundaries
  • Singapore-Australia Free Trade Agreement Amendments
  • Agreement between the Government of Australia and the Government of the Republic of Korea on Cooperation in the Fields of Energy and Mineral Resources
  • Agreement concerning the Use of Shoalwater Bay Training Area and Associated Facilities in Australia
  • Mutual Recognition Agreement on Conformity Assessment in Relation to Medicines Good Manufacturing Practice Inspection and Certification
  • Amendments to the Rotterdam Convention on the Prior Informed Consent Procedure for Certain Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides in International Trade
  • Final Protocol and Partial Revision of the 2001 Radio Regulations, as incorporated in the International Telecommunication Union Final Acts of the World Radiocommunication Conference
  • Establishment of the Antarctic Treaty Secretariat

Report 66 contains the findings and recommendations of the review conducted by the Joint Standing Committee on Treaties of nine treaty actions tabled in Parliament on 7 December 2004, 15 March and 11 May 2005. The treaty actions relate to the matters identified in the title of the report. I will comment on a selection of the treaty actions considered.

The United Nations Convention Against Corruption is a multilateral agreement designed to enhance international efforts to combat corruption.

Although no changes to Commonwealth legislation are required to implement Australia’s obligations under UNCAC, the Committee raised two issues with this Treaty. The first issue was the degree to which this treaty confers additional jurisdiction on the Commonwealth through the use of the external affairs power or Section 51 (xxix) of the Constitution.

Evidence to the Committee suggested that the use of the external affairs power is limited to some extent by the Melbourne Corporation doctrine. That is, it is unlikely the Commonwealth could enact legislation which relates to corrupt conduct of members of state parliaments, states executives and state courts in the discharge of their functions as state officials.

Even so, the Committee has made 2 recommendations asking the Attorney-General to advise the Committee that there is no intention to use the external affairs power and UNCAC to pass legislation not foreshadowed in the NIA.

The Amendments to the Singapore Australia Free Trade Agreement add a further 2 Universities—Murdoch and the University of Tasmania—to the list of Australian universities which are recognised for admission as qualified lawyers in Singapore. On a parochial note, I am pleased to see Flinders University on the list of 10 and look forward to the University of Adelaide being added soon.

Since 1995, Singapore Armed Forces have used the Shoalwater Bay Training Area. The Committee supports the Agreement between Australia and Singapore which will allow the continued use of the Shoalwater Bay Training Area by the Singapore Armed Forces for five years from 31 December 2004.

This report also recommends the Treaty between Australian and New Zealand which defines maritime boundaries enter into force. This treaty serves as a model for calm bilateral cooperation on maritime boundaries.

Lastly the Committee has recommended that a Treaty which establishes a permanent and independent secretariat to administer the Antarctic Treaty Consultation Meeting enter into force.

Australia has a large territorial claim and an extensive research program in Antarctica. The secretariat will be in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

In conclusion, the Committee believes it is in Australia’s national interest for the treaties considered in Report 66 to be ratified.

I commend the report to the Senate.