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Wednesday, 6 December 2006
Page: 126

Senator IAN CAMPBELL (Minister for the Environment and Heritage) (6:16 PM) —I table an explanatory memorandum relating to the bill and move:

That this bill be now read a second time.

I seek leave to have the second reading speech incorporated in Hansard.

Leave granted.

The speech read as follows—


The Non-Proliferation Legislation Amendment Bill 2006 strengthens Australia’s efforts to prevent the proliferation of nuclear and chemical weapons, and to support international measures ensuring the physical security of nuclear material and facilities.

The bill will amend the Nuclear Non-Proliferation (Safeguards) Act 1987 (Safeguards Act), the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty Act 1998 (CTBT Act) and the Chemical Weapons (Prohibition) Act 1994 (CWP Act), which all currently implement a range of Australian policies and treaty commitments promoting the non-proliferation of nuclear and chemical weapons.

The measures contained in this bill will demonstrate Australia’s ongoing commitment to the physical security of nuclear facilities, material and related information, and the application of nuclear safeguards to such items, which is essential to counter the heightened risk of nuclear proliferation and terrorism. In addition, the measures will enable Australia to implement its international obligations with respect to new physical protection measures for nuclear material and nuclear facilities called for by the 2005 Amendment to the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material (CPPNM). The bill also provides for changes to the machinery of government, which will improve the application of the non-proliferation measures in each of the Acts affected.

The bill creates several new offences, including an offence under the Safeguards Act for conduct against a nuclear facility which causes, or is likely to cause, death or serious injury to any person, or substantial damage to property or to the environment by exposure to radiation or release of radioactive substances. This offence will enhance Australia’s counter-proliferation and counter-terrorism efforts by ensuring that adequate protection is afforded to nuclear material and facilities. In addition, reflecting on Australia’s obligations arising from the amended CPPNM, a new offence of trafficking in nuclear materials has been introduced.

The bill amends the Safeguards Act, the CTBT Act and the CWP Act to extend the geographical jurisdiction for offences related to proliferation of nuclear and chemical weapons by an Australian citizen or resident anywhere. Specifically, this includes measures to prevent unauthorised communication of information that is proliferation sensitive, or that is critical to the physical security of nuclear material.

In strengthening measures designed to reduce the risk of proliferation, this bill updates penalty provisions contained in the Safeguards Act to make them, for the most serious offences, consistent with penalties under comparable Commonwealth non-proliferation legislation.

To strengthen the non- and counter-proliferation aims of the CTBT and the CWP Act, the bill extends territorial jurisdiction for certain offences to include Australian residents anywhere. This has the effect of aligning extra-territorial provisions across Australia’s non-proliferation legislation.

The bill also introduces a requirement for a special permit to be obtained where a nuclear or related facility is to be decommissioned. This requirement seeks to ensure that non-proliferation safeguards measures can be effectively applied in the course of decommissioning the facility. The new provision will underscore Australia’s ability to apply the principle that planned nuclear activities are fully transparent to the International Atomic Energy Agency in accordance with Australia’s obligations under the Additional Protocol.

To ensure that Australia’s non- and counter-proliferation measures are robust, the bill allows that the majority of the provisions, introduced as a result of the amendment to the CPPNM, can come into effect ahead of entry-into-force of the amended Convention - which could be several years off, since two-thirds of the 112 signatories have to ratify the amendment to trigger its entry-into-force.

Ordered that further consideration of this bill be adjourned to the first day of the next period of sittings, in accordance with standing order 111.