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Wednesday, 23 May 1973
Page: 2509

Mr N H Bowen (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - The Opposition welcomes this action on the part of the Government recognising the Montreal Convention to which the previous Government was a party and which was signed by that Government last year. This Bill provides for our accession to the Montreal Convention for the Suppression of Unlawful Acts Against the Safety of Civil Aviation. This is the fourth significant legislative step which Australia has taken to combat this modern problem, a problem which arises from time to time by reason of hijacking of aircraft, the planting of bombs on aircraft and other crimes and interference with the facilities of air travel. Air piracy and air hijacking have become a frightening feature of air travel and, although we have been reasonably fortunate in Australia, it is the fact that the free flight of people around the world, including Australians, is liable to be interfered with at any time by hijacking or by some crime taking place on an aircraft. It is important for the nations of the world to combine to ensure the safety of ordinary innocent passengers travelling by air around the world. This is connected in some degree with the general climate of the use of the weapon of terror for political purposes in various parts of the world. Hijacking represents one feature only of this problem.

I was in attendance at the United Nations last year representing Australia not long after the terrorist activity at Munich and some hijacking, and on behalf of Australia I then made the point that even this convention was not enough. I said that the nations of the world had to combine to take steps to see that where there was terrorist activity, where there was hijacking, there should not in any country be sanctuary for those who had taken that violent action. In the past a series of steps have been taken. There was the Crimes (Aircraft) Act 1963 which made the aircraft on which a crime was committed Australian territory. At that point there was a difficulty in prosecuting for crimes which took place on aircraft as they got outside Australian geographical territory, and this Act made the aircraft Australian territory so that prosecutions could take place in respect of crimes committed on those aircraft. The second step was the Civil Aviation (Offenders on International Aircraft) Act 1970 which gave effect to the Tokyo Convention in the formulation of which Australia had quite a part. It did not create offences but provided that offenders against laws could be dealt with expeditiously. It made provision for giving powers to the commanders of aircraft to deal with people who committed crimes on aircraft, and gave them authority to deliver offenders to the authority of countries in which their aircraft landed and provided for the way in which such offenders should be placed in custody or dealt with. A further Bill was introduced in 1972 and became an Act. It approved the accession of Australia to the Hague Convention.

So there was the Tokyo Convention, the Hague Convention and finally the Montreal Convention which is acceded to in the present Bill. The Hague Convention created the offence of hijacking and provided means by which people who were accused of that offence could be dealt with. The Montreal Convention provides that certain world-wide offences on aircraft become part of the law of a country if that country is prepared to accede to the convention and to make by legislation those offences part of its law. This is what the Bill now before the House does. Clause 7 sets out the terms of the Montreal Convention and renders a person who commits offences under it liable to Australian law. The Montreal Convention was something which was entered into by the previous Government and this Bill gives effect to it. We support and welcome the action of the Government in introducing this Bill into the House.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Bill read a second time.

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