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Government to introduce landmines ban bill



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M ED IA RELEASE MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS

ALEXANDER DOWNER

FA 138 11 NOVEMBER, 1998

GOVERNMENT TO INTRODUCE LANDMINES BAN BILL

The Coalition Joint Party meeting today approved the introduction to Parliament of the Anti-Personnel Mines Convention Bill 1998. I will take great pleasure in presenting the Bill to the House of Representatives tomorrow morning.

The Bill, once enacted, will give effect under Australian law to the provisions of the Convention on the Prohibition o f the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on their Destruction - also known as the Ottawa Convention - which I signed for Australia on the day it was opened for signature, 3 December 1997.

Australia’s ratification of the Convention he been pursued in accordance with the Government’s enhanced treaty scrutiny procedures. Passage of the legislation through Parliament will clear the way for Australia to become an original state party to the Ottawa Convention by the time the Convention enters into force on 1 March 1999.

The Government recognised early in its first term that more needed to be done to rid the world of the landmines scourge. We were quick to announce Australia’s support for a global ban on anti-personnel landmines as well as the suspension of the operational use of APL by the Australian Defence Force.

Our decision represented a distinct break from the grudging, caveated policies of the previous Labor Government which had left Australia lagging behind the clear trend of the times - to ban forever a weapon of war which had been so massively misused that its devastating human and economic consequences could no longer be tolerated.

But, gratifying as it will be, Australia’s ratification of the Ottawa Convention will not be the end of the road. Australia will continue efforts to draw in those countries remaining outside the Ottawa Convention - through more signatures and ratifications, through broader adherence

to revised Protocol Π on landmines of the Inhumane Weapons Convention, and through pursuit of the initiative Australia has been leading in the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva for a ban on all landmines exports, imports and transfers.

In addition, Australia, will continue its pioneering programs in demining and mine victim rehabilitation - addressing the problems caused by mines already in the ground and giving immediate, practical and compassionate effect to the Government’s commitment to a world without landmines.

Media contact: Innes Willox (02) 6277 7500 or (0419) 206 890

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