Tuesday, 26 November 2019
Customs Amendment (Growing Australian Export Opportunities Across the Asia-Pacific) Bill 2019, Customs Tariff Amendment (Growing Australian Export Opportunities Across the Asia-Pacific) Bill 2019; In Committee
These sorts of clauses have been in existence for more than 30 years as part of investment treaties, trade arrangements and otherwise. They are quite common practice. Senator Steele-John, you yourself just noted the United Nations practices and engagement in relation to them. It's perhaps the only area I can think of offhand where the Australian Greens have decided that they don't trust a United Nations process or tribunal appointment type arrangement.
These are here so that companies that undertake investments across international borders have confidence that there are safeguards in place for those investments that protect them from sovereign risk determinations made by governments in countries that may not have the same types of standards of rule of law and respect for sovereign risk that Australia has. That is why Australia has never been the subject of a successful appeal against these matters, whereas Australian companies have sometimes used them—sometimes frivolously and sometimes not so frivolously. In the end, that's up to individual processes.
The government believes that these remain valid mechanisms to help facilitate the flow of investment across international borders where laws are inconsistent and to provide some common practice and understanding. They are widely used internationally and widely respected by international lawmaking bodies.