Chapter 1 Introduction
Referral of the inquiry
The International Fund for Agricultural Development Amendment Bill 2012 (the
Bill) was referred to the Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence
and Trade for inquiry and report on 13 September 2012 by the House of
Representatives Selection Committee.
The Selection Committee’s report stated the following reason for
referral/principal issues for consideration:
Determine whether the International Fund for Agricultural
Development (IFAD) has fully addressed the concerns that were raised by the
former Howard Government, and which prompted Australia to withdraw from the
organisation in 2004.
Consideration of the additional financial and human resources
required by AusAID to support Australia’s engagement with IFAD.
Related Parliamentary inquiries
This inquiry is the second recent Parliamentary committee inquiry into
the proposed legislation.
The previous inquiry was conducted by the Joint Standing Committee on
Treaties (JSCT) which considered whether Australia should resume engagement
with IFAD when it reviewed the Agreement Establishing the International Fund
for Agricultural Development (Rome, 13 June 1976). The JSCT is empowered to
inquire into any treaty to which Australia has become signatory when the treaty
is tabled in Parliament—the treaty was tabled on 26 June 2012.
The JSCT subsequently conducted a public hearing in Canberra on 13 August
2012, during which it examined witnesses from AusAID.
In its report, tabled on 10 September 2012, the JSCT recommended that
… support[ed] the Agreement Establishing the International
Fund for Agricultural Development (Rome, 13 June 1976) and recommend[ed] that
binding treaty action be taken.
The report of the JSCT was an unanimous report.
Conduct of the inquiry
This inquiry was conducted by the Foreign Affairs Sub-Committee of the Joint
Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade (the Committee). The
Committee resolved, in light of the previous inquiry by the JSCT, that it would
adopt as its terms of reference the principal issues for consideration detailed
in the Selection Committee’s report (see paragraph 1.2).
Individuals and organisations were invited to prepare submissions and a
media release was issued on 20 September 2012. The inquiry was also included in
the monthly House of Representatives advertisement in the Australian on 3
October 2012. Details of the inquiry were made available on the Committee’s
The Committee received six submissions to the inquiry which are listed
at Appendix A.
A public hearing was conducted on Thursday, 25 October 2012 in Canberra.
Representatives from AusAID appeared on behalf of the Foreign Affairs and Trade
Portfolio agencies (FATP) which had provided a submission.
Appendix B lists the witnesses that appeared.