Senate debates

Tuesday, 21 August 2012


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

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

In closing, Madam Temporary Chair—and then I will ask you to put the question if there are no other contributions—the Greens agree with Human Rights Watch, who state:

The Bill should explicitly ban investment because it assists with a prohibited act, that is, the production of cluster munitions. Production cannot be curtailed and cluster munitions eliminated if a state party allows direct or indirect financial support to manufacturers of the weapons. Because private investors often provide important financial support to such companies, the ban should extend to private funds.

As I have mentioned a couple of times, the Australian Council of Superannuation Investors provided evidence to the foreign affairs, defence and trade committee that was compelling. In their submission they pointed out that there is no known direct investment in cluster munitions occurring anywhere in the world. On the other hand, direct investment is the only type of investment that would be captured under the current legislative wording. In other words, we are prohibiting a practice that does not exist, but on the kind of practice that does exist—that is, indirect investment in parent companies that have subsidiaries producing these devices—this bill is silent.

I could have seek an undertaking that the minister believes that, and maybe I have misunderstood his comments. ACSI observed that for the avoidance of doubt 'the current drafting will have no practical effect on the financing of cluster bomb production'. Minister, before we put this question to the vote, is it the government's understanding that the current wording of the bill does preclude indirect investment in cluster weapons? Perhaps that could have some bearing on the way in which the courts interpret future actions which are brought to bear.


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