Senate debates

Tuesday, 21 August 2012


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

1:21 pm

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

It is actually very straightforward. Again, I think we are retracing ground that I covered last night. Clearly the government has supported this convention, as indeed has the opposition and the Greens, because we are all committed to the eradication of cluster munitions. Of course, if it were possible, we would also sign a convention that outlawed war. But, tragically, we live in an international environment where things are not quite so simple. While we are resolved to not use, not stockpile, not consider the use of cluster munitions, that is not a view that is shared by a range of countries. You obviously speak of the United States, but there are many others. If you were to insist, as you seem to be, that every country that signs this convention must walk away from its alliance relationships and any view that its military should be interoperable with its major alliance partners, then I would submit that you would not simply see the allies of the United States disadvantaged but of course you would be creating a set of circumstances whereby none of the powers or the allies would sign this treaty and it would be, if you will forgive the phraseology, dead on arrival. It would be a dead letter treaty.

We are committed to changing international norms. We are committed to eradicating these weapons. But it is a nuanced business. Of course, one must also comprehend that for some countries the banning of cluster munitions may simply mean a bigger investment in artillery and rocket barrages. These things are not simple. And while they are a little easier for us because our view is clear and we do not face a territorial threat and these are not weapons we have ever used or ever stockpiled and we have no intention of ever doing so, we understand that the equation in other parts of the world is not so simple. So again I would put it to you that if we were to follow your formula we would find a convention with fewer signatories and we would find a convention that in fact has less of an impact rather than the greater impact you seek.


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