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Thursday, 19 June 2008
Page: 2811

Senator SANDY MACDONALD (10:07 AM) —On behalf of the Joint Standing Committee on Treaties, I present report No. 92 of the committee, Treaty tabled on 4 June 2008, andmove:

That the Senate take note of the report.

Report No. 92 contains the recommendation by the committee that binding treaty action be taken in relation to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. This convention will promote, protect and ensure the human rights and fundamental freedoms of all people with disabilities and promote respect for their inherent dignity. It obligates governments to eliminate discrimination in a range of areas, including marriage, parenthood, education, health, employment and standing of living. The convention also contains provisions specifically relating to the protection of children, ensuring individuals are recognised before law and providing equal access to facilities and services. The convention reflects and affirms the protections already existing under Australia’s domestic laws and has received widespread support.

The Attorney-General and Human Rights Commissioner both represented to the committee the advantages that early ratification of this treaty would provide for Australia. Through timely ratification, Australia will have the opportunity to participate in selection of the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. This committee will be comprised of persons with high moral standing and recognised competence and experience in the areas covered by the convention and will monitor and promote its implementation. The Secretary-General of the United Nations is expected to invite nominations no later than 3 July 2008 in accordance with the convention’s provisions. Australia must be a party to the convention in order to participate in this process.

Australia has a longstanding commitment to uphold and safeguard the rights of people with disabilities and has played an active role in negotiations for the convention in the first place. The committee considers it is important for Australia to continue to take a leading role in promoting the rights of people with disabilities. One way to do this is to ensure that we have the opportunity to participate in the nomination process for the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. The committee has taken the slightly unusual step, therefore, of tabling this short report to allow ratification to proceed as quickly as possible. The committee recognises that this will truncate the opportunity for interested persons to make submissions about the treaty; however, the committee will consider any other issues in the framing of its final report, which it intends to table at a later date. The committee encourages the government to ratify the convention as quickly as possible. I commend the report to the Senate.

Question agreed to.