Senate debates

Tuesday, 21 August 2012


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

1:30 pm

Photo of Scott LudlamScott Ludlam (WA, Australian Greens) Share this | Hansard source

So when I finally move this motion the Senate will be voting to keep a loophole open that the financial community wants closed—just so that we are well aware that. A number of countries have legislation which directly prohibits the financing and manufacturing of cluster weapons. Australia is going to stay outside that framework and that is profoundly shameful. Luxembourg in 2009 passed its Convention on Cluster Munitions ratification law, and article 3 of that law contains a ban on investments and states:

All persons, businesses and corporate entities are prohibited from knowingly financing cluster munitions or explosive submunitions

In 2008, Ireland's Cluster Munitions and Anti-Personnel Mines Bill explicitly prohibited investment of public money in producers of cluster munitions. In 2009 the New Zealanders, whose enabling legislation I have referenced previously, included a prohibition on investment in companies that manufacture cluster munitions and they are clear about what sort of financing is prohibited—namely:

… assets of every kind, whether tangible or intangible, moveable or immoveable, however acquired; and includes legal documents) or instruments (for example bank credits, travellers’ cheques, bank cheques, money orders, shares—

and so on.

The Netherlands in 2011 passed a motion that called for the prohibition of direct and demonstrable investments in companies that produce, sell or distribute cluster munitions. The UK government issued a ministerial statement in 2009 confirming that 'under the current provisions of the bill, which have been modelled upon the definitions and requirements of the convention, the financing of cluster munitions would be prohibited. The provision of funds directly contributing to the manufacture of these weapons would be prohibited.' Lastly, Belgium produced a schedule in its legislation, and article 2 of that legislation reads:

Also prohibited is the financing of a company under Belgian law or under the law of another country, which is involved in the manufacture, use, repair, marketing, sale, distribution, import, export, stockpiling or transportation of anti-personnel mines and or sub-munitions within the sense of this act, and with a view to distribution thereof.

To this end The King shall, no later than the first day of the thirteenth month following the publication of this act, prepare a public list

(i) of companies that have been shown to carry out an activity as under the previous paragraph;

(ii) of companies holding more than half the shares of a company as under i) and;

(iii) of collective investment institutions holding financial instruments of companies as designated in i) and ii).

So here is a fairly explicit example of the sort of behaviour that Senator Feeney just said we could not possibly bring to bear in an Australian legislative context because companies that manufacture these hideous weapons might also manufacture consumer white goods. Who knows? And we would not want to impact upon them! Actually, I believe we would. That is precisely why we would bring an instrument like this into law: to stigmatise and try to strangle financial oxygen to exactly that kind of behaviour. Either we oppose the manufacture and distribution of these weapons or we do not. Minister, would you briefly provide us with the government's view on why it is good enough for the state parties that I have just listed to do this but, somehow, not possible here in Australia.


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