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Tuesday, 9 June 1970

Mr CHIPP (Hotham) (Minister for Customs and Excise) - Mr Deputy Speaker, as the House knows, the AttorneyGeneral (Mr Hughes) is attending an important conference in Adelaide. He has asked me to carry this Bill for him. On the question without notice which the honourable member for Wills (Mr Bryant) posed in his 2 minute speech, all I can say, at this short notice, is that Australia is a member of the International Civil Aviation Organisation and, as such, is playing its part, I believe, in bringing about precisely what the honourable gentleman advocates. At this stage, J cannot say any more to him in answer to the specific point that he raised. The honourable member for Newcastle (Mr Charles Jones) in leading for the Opposition, asked me a question concerning the progress of the Legal Committee of ICAO. which was established some lime ago.

Mr Charles Jones - In L968.

Mr CHIPP - I am informed that it was established in 1968. My brief says that the Legal Committee has prepared a draft convention which will be considered by a diplomatic conference to be held at the Hague on 1st December next. The main provisions of this draft convention are, firstly, each contracting state undertakes to legislate to make it an offence punishable by severe penalties for a person aboard an aircraft to take control of it by force, threats or intimidation, or to attempt to do so; secondly, the jurisdiction of the state applies where an aircraft lands in that state with the offender still on board or when the offence is committed on an aircraft registered in that state; thirdly, any state in which an alleged offender is found shall take him into custody to enable criminal or extradition proceedings to bc commenced; and fourthly the state shall either extradite the offender or deal with him under its own laws.

The Assembly of this Organisation consists of representatives of all 118 member states. A special extraordinary meeting will be held from 16th to 30th June at the request of Switzerland, Austria and other European states. The agenda is: To develop adequate standards and procedures (a) to prevent criminal action which may endager the safety of air transport and (b) as to means by which offenders can be brought to justice. Under the first heading a number of proposals have been submitted for consideration at the meeting in relation to such matters as methods of detecting the presence of explosives in passengers' luggage, searching passengers' cargo and mail, preventing persons suspected of being saboteurs from travelling, and other measures directed towards greater security at airports. Under the second heading, proposals have been made for adopting an international convention in relation to acts of violence and sabotage against aircraft on the ground, the authority of the aircraft commander and uniform penalties for offences against persons on board aircraft.

A question was raised also - I think by the honourable member for Newcastle - about the delay in ratifying the convention. I think he mentioned 7 years which, indeed, is the period of the delay. 1 will not debate the point with him. I accept it. But I put to him that there was not the strongest argument for Australia itself to ratify the

Tokyo Convention before 1969 because, as the honourable gentleman would know, 12 ratifications from other member states to that convention need to be notified before it can come into force. It is my understanding that it was not until 4th December 1969 that the requisite number of countries had ratified the convention. In the meantime, as the honourable gentleman mentioned, Australia had its own Crimes Aircraft Act of 1963 which provided adequate penalties for offences relating to aircraft and over which the Commonwealth Parliament had legislative powers. That is not quite a complete answer to the question asked by the honourable gentleman but I think that it covers his point.

Before I sit down, without wanting to be controversial at this late hour of this session of the Parliament and during this week, I cannot allow the speech by the honourable member for Hunter (Mr James) to go without one comment coming from the Government. He rightly referred to some difficulties that certain people have at the hands of United States authorities in getting visas to visit Cuba or in getting visas to leave the United States of America and to visit other countries. I would have been happier - I am sure that all honourable members in this House would have been happier - had not the remarks of the honourable gentleman been restricted as usual to a criticism of the United States and had he referred to the difficulties which exist in fact within all Communist countries which apply to their citizens the most extraordinary restrictions on travel inside and outside their countries.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Bill read a second time.

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