Senate debates

Tuesday, 21 August 2012


Criminal Code Amendment (Cluster Munitions Prohibition) Bill 2010; In Committee

12:42 pm

Photo of David FeeneyDavid Feeney (Victoria, Australian Labor Party, Parliamentary Secretary for Defence) Share this | Hansard source

I am resisting the temptation to head down that road, too, Senator Ludlam. I also make clear that Australia has never had stockpiles of these weapons. I know you understand that, Senator Ludlam, but it is important to put it on the record.

I repeat that the bill uses the language found in the convention. For our part, we say that the bill, in its intent and in its operation, effects everything the convention is intended to effect. The convention itself permits military cooperation and operations between states parties and countries not party to the convention. That is a point worth highlighting, I think. Such military cooperation or operations may entail the use by foreign countries of their own assets on Australian territory or the entry of foreign ships or aircraft into Australian territory.

The defence which is found in proposed section 72.42 protects foreign military personnel of countries which are not party to the convention while such personnel are in Australia. This section obviously takes into account that Australia engages in military cooperation and operations with some countries which are not party to the convention—obviously the United States is one of those. But those kinds of military cooperation and joint operations are expressly permitted by article 21 of the convention. The defence in the bill recognises that foreign military personnel are not required to comply with an international legal obligation to which their own country has not consented. I think that is reasonably straightforward. It is essential that Australia be able to continue to cooperate with countries which have not signed the convention.

The government has made clear that it has not and will not permit other countries to stockpile cluster munitions in Australia. I trust that is an important undertaking for you to have on the record, Senator Ludlam.

There are currently no foreign stockpiles of cluster munitions in Australia and, as a matter of policy, the government confirmed on 23 November 2011 that it has not and will not authorise such stockpiling. The government will confirm this commitment in a public statement at the time of Australia's ratification of the convention and in Australia's annual statements under the convention.


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