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Thursday, 3 December 2015
Page: 9855


Senator FAWCETT (South AustraliaDeputy Government Whip in the Senate) (15:52): I present the 157th report of the Joint Standing Committee on Treaties, Report 157: treaties tabled on 13 October 2015, and I seek leave to incorporate a tabling statement.

Leave granted.

The statement read as follows—

Mr President, today I present the Joint Standing Committee on Treaties' Report 157: Treaties tabled on 13 October 2015.

Report 157 covers two proposed treaties:

Agreement between the Government of Australia and the Government of the Republic of India concerning Transfer of Sentenced Persons; and

Amendments of 2014 to the Maritime Labour Convention.

Mr President, Australia's international transfer of prisoner scheme has been in place since 2002. The scheme provides a comprehensive framework to govern the transfer of prisoners in and out of Australia. The focus of the scheme is on rehabilitation and reintegration of prisoners. It enables prisoners to serve out their sentence in their home country.

Mr President, transferring prisoners back to their home country removes language and cultural barriers to rehabilitation and reintegration. For Australian prisoners it may mean access to relevant counselling for drug, alcohol or gambling issues. It may also mean better supervision and support to reintegrate back into the community after release. This is in addition to the benefits of being closer to the support network provided by family and friends.

The scheme also contributes to community safety by making sure that convictions are recorded in Australia. As well it enables effective monitoring and management of prisoners released on parole. It relieves the hardship and financial burden on the relatives of Australian prisoners held in India and reduces the cost of providing consular assistance.

The second treaty covered in this report is an amendment to the International Labour Organisation's Maritime Labour Convention. The Convention establishes minimum working conditions for seafarers working on ships. The Australian Government ratified the Convention in 2011 and it entered into force for Australia in 2013.

Mr President, this amendment will require parties to the Convention to establish a financial security system for seafarers abandoned by their employers. Abandonment includes:

failure to cover the cost of a seafarer's repatriation;

leaving the seafarer without necessary maintenance and support; or

otherwise severing ties with the seafarer, including failing to pay wages for a period of at least two months.

The amendment will require parties to set up a financial security system that provides:

up to two months' worth of outstanding wages and other entitlements owed to the seafarer;

all expenses reasonably incurred by the seafarer, including repatriation costs; and

the seafarer's essential needs, such as clothing, accommodation, drinking water and medical care.

Additionally parties will be required to provide a system of compensation for the death or long term disablement of a seafarer.

Mr President, the amendments will make sure that vulnerable seafarers have appropriate workplace protections in place in the event of abandonment or sickness, injury or death. Seafarers or their families will be able to access compensation for a long term disability or death.

Mr President, I can advise that the Committee supports the proposed treaty actions. The Committee has recommended binding treaty action in relation to the Australia-India transfer of prisoner agreement. The amendment to the Maritime Labour Convention is deemed accepted by parties on a set date, so no recommendation is required.

Mr President, on behalf of the Committee, I commend the Report to the Senate.

Senator FAWCETT: I move:

That the Senate take note of the report.