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Wednesday, 16 June 2004
Page: 23968

Senator KIRK (5:57 PM) —On behalf of the Joint Standing Committee on Treaties, I present the 60th report of the committee, entitled Treaties tabled on 2 March 2004, together with the Hansard record and minutes of proceedings and submissions received by the committee. I move:

That the Senate take note of the report.

I seek leave to incorporate a tabling statement in Hansard.

Leave granted.

The statement read as follows—

Mr President, Report 60 contains the findings of the inquiry conducted by the Joint Standing Committee on Treaties into four proposed treaty actions tabled in the Parliament on 2 March 2004.

Mr President, the Committee considered and supports the Consular Agreement between Australia and Vietnam, as it will provide a practical and valuable framework for consular relations between the two countries.

The Committee also supports Australia's accession to the World Tourism Organization Statutes. The World Tourism Organization plays an important role in promoting the development and implementation of responsible and sustainable tourism practices. The Committee understands that Australia will receive a number of benefits from membership, such as increasing Australia's capacity to respond to global events that impact on tourism, and the generation of export revenue for Australia's tourism services sector.

Mr President, the Committee also supports the 2002 Amendments to the Constitution and Convention of the International Telecommunication Union. The ITU, amongst other things, provides an international framework for the operation of the communications industries. The 2002 Amendments will enhance procedures and flexibility of the ITU.

Mr President, the Committee also carefully considered Australia's proposed withdrawal from the Agreement Establishing the International Fund for Agricultural Development. IFAD is a small, specialised agency of the United Nations.

The Committee spoke with AUSAID, representatives of IFAD which is based in Rome and the local IFAD Support Groups.

The Committee carefully considered the options available to Australia including any impact on Australian individuals and businesses. AUSAID's concerns were that IFAD did very little work in the South Pacific, had poor donor relations and focussed on small projects with no comparative advantage. No Member of the Committee proposed that Australia contribute to IFAD6. The Committee adopted a recommendation that Australia withdraw from IFAD. However within the Committee there were a range of views on whether Australia should withdraw now, or until after the Independent External Evaluation or in 2007-2008 when our contribution is exhausted.

On behalf of the Committee I would like to thank the organisations, individuals and Government departments that participated in the Committee's inquiry—their contributions are greatly appreciated. I particularly would like to thank those individuals who travelled internationally and interstate to give evidence at the Committee's public hearings. I would also like to thank all Members of the Committee for their consideration of the proposed treaty actions.

I commend the report to the Senate.

Question agreed to.