House debates

Wednesday, 28 March 2018


Treaties Committee; Report

4:19 pm

Photo of Stuart RobertStuart Robert (Fadden, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

On behalf of the Joint Standing Committee on Treaties, I present the committee's report entitled Report 178: Bonn convention-amendments; Universal Postal Union-amendments.

Report made a parliamentary paper in accordance with standing order 39(e).

by leave—Thank you for the opportunity to make a short statement in respect of Report 178. The report deals with two treaty actions:

      The Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals, called the Bonn convention, is a multilateral treaty protecting vulnerable migratory species.

      Migratory species that are in need of protection are listed in the appendices to the Bonn convention.

      There are two appendices: appendix I lists endangered species and appendix II lists species that have an unfavourable conservation status, but are not endangered.

      Amendments to the appendices of the Bonn convention come into effect automatically unless a party to the convention lodges a reservation.

      Australia is a range state for five of the species added to the appendices of the Bonn convention at the conference of the parties held in October last year.

      The Australian government advised the committee that Australia has lodged reservations in relation to the dusky shark, the blue shark and the white-spotted guitarfish, which have been added to appendix II of the Bonn convention.

      These reservations arise from an inconsistency between the Bonn convention and the EPBC Act.

      The EPBC Act extends the prohibition on taking endangered species listed in appendix I of the Bonn Convention to species listed in appendix II that are not endangered.

      This would unnecessarily prevent commercial and recreational fishers from taking the species being added to appendix II when those fisheries are sustainably managed in Australia.

      It's important to note that Australia already applies the conservation measures required under the Bonn convention in relation to these species.

      The committee acknowledges that, absent an appropriate amendment to the EPBC Act, there is no alternative for the Australian government but to lodge reservations in this regard.

      Australia has accepted the listing of the Christmas Island frigatebird or the whale shark, which have been included in appendix I.

      As the amendments to the Bonn convention come into effect automatically and Australia's reservations have already been lodged, the committee has not made a recommendation in relation to this treaty action.

      However, the committee agrees that the treaty action is in the national interest.

      The Universal Postal Union is a specialised agency of the United Nations responsible for formulating and setting the rules for the flow of international mail.

      The Australian government is proposing to ratify the amendments to the constitution of the Universal Postal Union, the general regulations, the Universal Postal Convention, the final protocol to the convention, and the Postal Payment Services Agreement and Final Protocol, adopted by the 26th congress.

      The documents adopted by the congress reflect incremental refinement and improvement of the regulatory framework and operations of the international postal system.

      Australia's ratification of the documents adopted by the 26th congress will ensure our continued participation in the international postal system, which these days plays such a pretty important part not only in day-to-day life but in international commerce.

      The committee supports the ratification of the treaty.

      On behalf of the committee, I commend the report to the House.