Senate debates

Tuesday, 21 August 2012


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

1:52 pm

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

I commend this amendment to the chamber.

The CHAIRMAN: The question is that amendment (3) on sheet 7084 moved by Senator Ludlam be agreed to.

Question negatived.

The CHAIRMAN: Senator Ludlam, do you wish to proceed with amendment (4)?

Chair, I certainly do. I can think of nothing that I would rather do. I move amendment (4):

(4)   Schedule 1, item 1, page 5 (after line 7), at the end of section 72.39, add:

This amendment is also effectively a technical amendment and will go to amendments (5) and (6), I suspect, after question time, which go to the deeper substantive issues of why we would allow the ADF to continue to plan and conduct missions in which these weapons were used and then again in amendment (6), which relates to transit and stockpiling of these weapons on Australian soil.

Amendment (4), however, simply goes to our belief that the minister should submit an annual report to the Secretary-General of the United Nations that details the matters which we were referring to just before. So the minister or his or her delegate under this amendment would be required to submit a report annually to the Secretary-General of the United Nations for each year in which cluster munitions are retained, acquired or transferred by no later than 30 April of the following year. This report, we believe, should include information on the planned and actual use, type, quantity and lot numbers of cluster munitions acquired or retained under the subsection.

Minister, this is nothing more nor less, in my view, than simply modelling best practice. This is modelling good behaviour. Each state party and those non-state parties that are eventually brought within the ambit of the convention should be encouraged to have precisely this practice. I suspect that long after all state parties have joined this convention and long after these weapons have been banned from the arsenals of the world—and we all, I think, look forward to that day—there will still be in places like Afghanistan, Laos, Vietnam and across former battlefields in Africa and elsewhere tens and hundreds of thousands of these weapons scattered about and there will still be a requirement for defence forces and mine-clearing personnel to retain stockpiles of these weapons. This is something that is going to have to remain in perpetuity. So I understand why we will need to retain very small numbers of these weapons for training purposes, but I believe we should get into the practice now of modelling best practice behaviour, which means accurate reporting to the S-G of the United Nations about exactly what stockpiles we are holding and why. If that practice is reflected in those of other states party to the convention, I think we will all be better off. I commend this amendment to the chamber.


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