Senate debates

Friday, 22 June 2012

Questions on Notice

Foreign Affairs (Question No. 1831)

Photo of David JohnstonDavid Johnston (WA, Liberal Party, Shadow Minister for Defence) Share this | | Hansard source

asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs, upon notice, on 9 May 2012:

(1)   Have all Australian Government sanctions against Iran entered into force.

(2)   Is the sanctions regime adopted by Australia fully consistent with the sanctions by the:

(a)   United States of America (US)

(b)   United Kingdom (UK); and

(c)   European Union (EU); if not, what are the differences

(3)   Has the Australian Government implemented sanctions against the Central Bank of Iran; if so are these sanctions as comprehensive as those enacted by the:

(a)   US

(b)   UK; and

(c)   EU

Photo of Bob CarrBob Carr (NSW, Australian Labor Party, Minister for Foreign Affairs) Share this | | Hansard source

The answer to the honourable senator's question is as follows:

(1)   The Australian Government has given effect under Australian law to all sanctions obligations imposed by the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) in relation to Iran.

  In relation to Australian autonomous sanctions measures (that is, measures applied autonomously of a UNSC obligation), the measures announced by the then Minister for Foreign Affairs on 6 December 2011 and 24 January 2012 are currently subject to public consultation and it is expected they will commence on 1 July 2012. These measures, once in force, would prohibit, without prior authorisation from the Minister for Foreign Affairs:

(a)   the import, purchase or transport of specified Iranian crude oil, petroleum or petrochemical products;

(b)   the provision of financial assistance or a financial service related to the import, purchase or transport of such products;

(c)   the acquisition or extension of an interest in, or the establishment of or participation in a joint venture with, or the granting of a financial loan or credit to – an entity in Iran that is engaged in the petrochemical, oil or gas industry in Iran, or – an Iranian or Iranian owned entity involved in such industries outside Iran;

(d)   the sale or otherwise making available of an interest in a commercial activity in Australia that is related to the oil and gas industry to the Iranian Government or an Iranian company or citizen;

(e)   the direct or indirect sale, purchase, transportation or brokerage of gold, diamonds or precious metals to, from or for the Iranian Government, its public bodies, corporations or agencies, or the Central Bank of Iran;

(f)   the opening in Australia of a branch, subsidiary or representative office of, or the establishment of a joint venture with, or the acquisition of ownership of an Australian financial institution by, or the establishment or maintenance of a correspondent relationship with – a financial institution that is operated by or on behalf of the Iranian Government, an Iranian company or citizen;

(g)   the establishment of a representative office or subsidiary in Iran, or the opening of a bank account in Iran, by a financial institution; and

(h)   the delivery of newly printed or unissued Iranian denominated bank notes or newly minted or unissued Iranian denominated coinage to or for the Central Bank of Iran.

(2)   Australia's autonomous sanctions regime in relation to Iran is broadly consistent with that of the European Union and the United Kingdom. The principal differences between the regimes are:

(a)   the measures listed in paragraphs (a) to (h) in the response to question (1), which the European Union and United Kingdom currently impose and which Australia is in the process of bringing into force;

(b)   an additional "human rights" criterion applied by the European Union and United Kingdom to designate persons as being subject to targeted financial and travel sanctions;

(c)   in relation to the United Kingdom only, a requirement for all financial transactions with Iran to be subject to prior authorisation (Australian law requires authorisation for any transaction with Iran valued at $20,000 or more).

  The sanctions regimes of Australia, the European Union or the United Kingdom are not directly comparable to US sanctions against Iran in terms of reach and restrictiveness, including provision under US law for imposing sanctions on third country persons who engage in specific kinds of trade and investment with Iran. Detailed information about US sanctions can be found at

(3)   A number of existing Australian measures are of general application and apply to all financial institutions, including the Central Bank of Iran. This includes the requirement under the Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorism Financing Regulations 2008 for authorisation for any transaction with Iran valued at $20,000 or more. Of the measures expected to commence on 1 July 2012, those referred to in paragraphs (e) and (h) in the response to question (1) above will apply directly to the Central Bank of Iran, and that referred to in paragraph (f) in the response to question (1) above will apply to the Central Bank of Iran in the same way it would apply to any Iranian financial institution. These measures are broadly consistent with measures imposed by the European Union and the United Kingdom.