House debates

Monday, 11 September 2023


International Organisations (Privileges and Immunities) Amendment Bill 2023; Second Reading

12:37 pm

Photo of Tim WattsTim Watts (Gellibrand, Australian Labor Party, Assistant Minister for Foreign Affairs) Share this | Hansard source

I thank all honourable members for their contributions to this debate on the International Organisations (Privileges and Immunities) Amendment Bill 2023. I thank the member for Wannon for recording the strong history of bipartisanship shown by this parliament on this issue and those opposite for their good-faith engagement in the parliamentary committee review process for this bill. I also acknowledge my friend the member for Macnamara for highlighting the important role that this bill plays in Australia's engagement with the global multilateral system. As the Minister for Foreign Affairs has pointed out in the past, Australia may not be a global power, but we have global interests and to pursue those interests we need to work closely with the other members of the international community. Multilateral institutions are, for that reason, more important for Australia than for some other larger countries. For that reason the bill will benefit Australia by providing new opportunities to cooperate with international organisations and will assist Australia to give effect to our international obligations, aligning our domestic laws more closely with the treaties to which we are a party. It will increase flexibility in which we grant privileges and immunities we agreed to in Australia in our national interest.

The changes proposed by the bill are small but important. First, they will enable Australia to accord privileges and immunities to international organisations of which Australia is not a member. This includes, for example, the Organisation for Joint Armament Cooperation, with which Australia has concluded a framework agreement. Second, the amendments will allow Australia to grant privileges and immunities to classes of officials not set out in the act where requested by an international organisation and agreed to by Australia. Finally, Australia will have more flexibility in granting the existing suite of privileges and immunities under the act to international organisations and their officials. Australia grants privileges and immunities when they are required under our international obligations and commitments. We do so in accordance with international law, including international human rights law.

The Australian government's objective is to participate in the multilateral system actively and constructively. To achieve this, we need to support its institutions and recognise the benefits that international organisations bring to Australia, the region and the world. The bill reflects the commitment of this government to its objectives, and, on that note, I commend the bill to the chamber.

Question agreed to.

Bill read a second time.


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