This report contains the Joint Standing Committee on Treaties’ review of the following treaty actions:
Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement between the Government of Australia and the Government of Indonesia;
Free Trade Agreement between Australia and Hong Kong, China; and
Investment Agreement between the Government of Australia and the Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China.
The Committee’s inquiry into each of these treaty actions lapsed at the dissolution of the 45th Parliament and the treaties were re-referred to the Committee by the Minister for Foreign Affairs at the beginning of the 46th Parliament on 29 July 2019.
The Committee’s resolution of appointment empowers it to inquire into any treaty to which Australia has become a signatory, on the treaty being tabled in the Parliament.
The treaties, and matters arising from them, are evaluated to ensure that ratification is in the national interest, and that unintended or negative effects on Australia will not arise.
Prior to tabling, major treaty actions are subject to a National Interest Analysis (NIA), prepared by Government. This document considers arguments for and against the treaty, outlines the treaty obligations and any regulatory or financial implications, and reports the results of consultations undertaken with State and Territory Governments, Federal, State and Territory agencies, and with industry or non-government organisations.
An Analysis of Regulatory Impact on Australia (ARIA) may accompany the NIA. The ARIA provides an account of the regulatory impact of the treaty action where adoption of the treaty will involve a change in the regulatory environment for Australian business.
The Committee takes account of these documents in its examination of the treaty text, in addition to other evidence taken during the inquiry program.
Copies of the treaties considered in this report and the associated documentation may be obtained from the Committee Secretariat or accessed through the Committee’s website at:
Conduct of the Committee’s review
The treaty actions reviewed in this report were advertised on the Committee’ website from the date of the re-referral. Submissions for the treaty actions were requested by 23 August 2019. Forty-eight submissions were received for the inquiry into the Indonesian trade agreement and 29 submissions for the Hong Kong trade agreement and Hong Kong investment agreement.
The Committee considered the treaty actions together and held four public hearings: in Sydney on 26 August 2019, Melbourne on 27 August 2019, Perth on 2 September 2019, and Canberra on 9 September 2019. The transcripts of evidence from the public hearings may be obtained from the Committee Secretariat or accessed through the Committee’s website as listed above. The current Committee resolved to adopt the evidence received by the previous Committee for all the treaty actions under review.
A list of submissions received for the inquiries is at Appendix A. A list of witnesses who appeared at the public hearings is at Appendix B.