Thursday, 16 August 2007
International Trade Integrity Bill 2007
I intend to be brief. Those who engaged in the debate are not here, and the points that they took are really ancient history. The International Trade Integrity Bill 2007 is about the future. I want to thank the members for Hotham, Cook, Prospect, Ryan and Wills for their contributions to the debate. I would also like to thank the Senate Standing Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs for their work inquiring into and reporting on the bill. The committee agreed to the bill without amendment.
I would like to respond to a few of the matters mentioned in today’s debate, including the second reading amendment moved by the member for Hotham. First, the OECD working group have advised the government that they do not want a response until next year and that it would be inappropriate to respond formally to the OECD report before then. The government have moved quickly to respond to Commissioner Cole’s report. We have established a task force. We have given it funding and it is carrying out its investigations. In relation to paragraphs (2) and (3) of the member for Hotham’s amendment, I will quote from Commissioner Cole, who said:
... there is no evidence that any of the Prime Minister, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, the Minister for Trade or the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry were ever informed about, or otherwise acquired knowledge of, the relevant activities of AWB.
He also found no evidence of illegal activity to suggest wilful blindness by the Commonwealth.
In relation to the remaining paragraphs of the amendment, the government’s response to the issue of whistleblowers will be considered further in the development of a response to the OECD’s phase 2 report. I reject the suggestion that the government has been slow in its response to the threat of money laundering or terrorist financing. In fact, the second tranche of reforms has been developed, and significant reforms were contained in the Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorism Financing Act passed earlier.
In response to the concerns raised about Australia’s international reputation, again it is useful for me to quote from Commissioner Cole, who said in the prologue to his report:
... AWB has cast a shadow over Australia’s reputation in international trade. That shadow has been removed by Australia’s intolerance of inappropriate conduct in trade, demonstrated by shining the bright light of this independent public Inquiry on AWB’s conduct.
The government remains committed to ensuring that Australian businesses uphold our international obligations in relation to trade sanctions and combating foreign bribery. This bill reaffirms the government’s commitment to these goals and sends a clear message that the contravention of UN sanctions and bribery of foreign officials will not be tolerated. In conjunction with other efforts by the government to raise awareness of international trade obligations, the amendments in this bill will encourage a culture of ethical dealing in Australian business that will improve Australia’s already fine reputation in international trade. As there are no amendments proposed to the bill, I commend it to the House. As I foreshadowed, I oppose the second reading amendment, primarily because it is all ancient history and this bill is about the future.
The original question was that this bill be now read a second time. To this the honourable member for Hotham has moved as an amendment that all words after ‘That’ be omitted with a view to substituting other words. The question now is that the words propose to be omitted stand part of the question.
Question agreed to.
Original question agreed to.
Bill read a second time.