1. Introduction

This report contains the Joint Standing Committee on Treaties’ review of the Free Trade Agreement between Australia and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (Adelaide, 17 December 2021 and London, 16 December 2021) (AUKFTA).
The Committee’s inquiry into this treaty lapsed at the dissolution of the 46th Parliament and the treaty was re-referred to the Committee by the Minister for Foreign Affairs at the beginning of the 47th Parliament on 1 August 2022.
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 or referred by a Minister.
The treaties, and matters arising from them, are evaluated to ensure ratification is in the national interest, and unintended or negative effects on Australia would not arise.
Prior to tabling, major treaty actions are subject to a National Interest Analysis (NIA), prepared by the Australian Government. This document considers 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.
The NIA for the AUKFTA was accompanied by a Regulation Impact Statement (RIS). The RIS provides an account of the regulatory impact of the treaty action where adoption of the treaty would 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.
A copy of the treaty considered in this report and the associated documents may be accessed through the Committee’s website at:

Conduct of the Committee’s review

The Minister for Foreign Affairs requested the Committee expedite its consideration of the AUKFTA upon re-referral. Category One treaty actions, by convention, stand referred to the Committee for 20 joint sitting days. The Committee ultimately agreed to report by 16 November 2022, being 13 joint sitting days.
The AUKFTA inquiry was advertised on the Committee website on 5 August 2022. The Committee did not request further submissions instead deciding to make use of the submissions received to the inquiry in the 46th Parliament. Thirty submissions were received in the 46th Parliament and a further six submissions or supplementary submissions were received following re-referral of the treaty in the 47th Parliament.
The Committee held two public hearings in Canberra and by videoconference on Tuesday, 20 September 2022 and Monday, 26 September 2022. The transcripts of evidence from the public hearings may be obtained from the Committee Secretariat or accessed through the Committee’s website.
A list of submissions received is at Appendix A and a list of witnesses who appeared at the public hearings is at Appendix B.

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