Senate debates

Tuesday, 21 August 2012


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

12:51 pm

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

The government do not support deleting section 72.42. We say that the effect of deleting section 72.42 would be that visiting military personnel of countries who are not party to the convention would be prohibited from any conduct relating to cluster munitions while in Australia, and this would significantly limit Australia's ability to undertake military cooperation and operations with such countries, as permitted by the convention. The amendment you propose would also have the effect of requiring those personnel to comply with an international legal obligation to which their sending country has not consented.

Proposed section 72.42 of the bill gives practical effect to the range of conduct permitted by article 21 of the convention. Deleting section 72.42 would limit Australia's ability to cooperate with countries not party to the convention, as permitted by article 21 of the convention. Australia engages in military cooperation and operations with countries not party to the convention, both overseas and in Australia, with the United States obviously being the outstanding example. Maintaining interoperability with the United States and other coalition forces is central to the protection of Australia's national security and international security.

I cannot help but again assert the point that you are asking something of this Senate which is not asked of us by the convention itself and which would not apply elsewhere or in military alliance relationships, whether they be with China, Russia, Pakistan, India or whoever. There are currently no foreign stockpiles of cluster munitions in Australia and, as a matter of policy, we have confirmed that we will not authorise such stockpiling. We say that deleting section 72.42 would render the interoperability provision in the convention meaningless. That, of course, would have the effect of seriously damaging our alliance relationship with the United States. We have all talked about why that would be undesirable. So notwithstanding the defence found in proposed section 72.42, we say visiting forces would not be excused from prosecution if they use, develop, produce or acquire cluster munitions in Australia.


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