Minor treaty actions are generally technical amendments to existing treaties which do not impact significantly on the national interest.
Minor treaty actions are presented to the Committee with a one-page explanatory statement and are listed on the Committee’s website. The Committee has the discretion to formally inquire into these treaty actions or indicate its acceptance of them without a formal inquiry and report.
Amendment to Annex II of the Convention Against Doping in Sport
The minor treaty action amends Annex II to the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) International Convention against Doping in Sport  ATS IO (the Convention). Annex II of the Convention–Standards for Granting Therapeutic Use Exemptions–outlines how athletes can use medicines on the Prohibited List to treat legitimate medical conditions.
The amendments clarify the standard of proof that must be satisfied in order for a Therapeutic Use Exemption (TUE) to be granted. The amendments add the words ‘by a balance of probability’ to the requirements in Clause 4.1. Previously this clause had been silent on the required evidentiary standard.
Amendments to Annex I of MARPOL
The minor treaty action amends Annex I of the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships, 1973, as modified by the Protocol of 1978 Relating Thereto (MARPOL).
The treaty action consists of technical amendments to international regulations for the prevention of oil pollution from ships. The amendments would amend regulations concerning oil residue (sludge) tanks, in order to minimise the possibility of oil residues being discharged at sea.
The explanatory statement advises that the amendment may require some refitting on Australian registered ships built before 2014. The cost is expected to be minimal, as this refitting involves modifying the piping arrangements and does not require replacement of the tanks. The explanatory statement advises that industry peak bodies have indicated that the costs involved will be minor, and no stakeholders have raised concerns about this treaty action.
Second Protocol establishing the Prolongation of the Treaty between the Kingdom of the Netherlands and Australia on the Presence of Australian Personnel in the Netherlands for the Purpose of Responding to the Downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17
This minor treaty action extends Australia’s deployment of personnel in the Netherlands, in order to secure and identify the remains of the victims and investigate the cause of the MH17 downing. The explanatory statement advises that this investigation is still ongoing, and requires personnel to continue until the end of 2016.
The treaty action is the second extension, prolonging the treaty until 31 December 2016. The Treaty originally entered into force on 1 August 2014 with an expiry date of 1 August 2015. In May 2015 the Treaty was extended until 1 August 2016. The explanatory statement advises that under Dutch domestic requirements the duration of each Protocol is limited to twelve months.
According to the explanatory statement, the treaty action does not require legislative change and has negligible legal and financial effects.
The Committee examined and reported on the original Treaty in February 2015. The Minister invoked the National Interest Exemption (NIE), and the treaty entered into force on 1 August 2014 before being tabled in the Parliament on 30 September 2014. The First Protocol extending the Treaty was also given expedited consideration by the Committee at the Minister’s request. The Second Protocol, which only extends the term by five months, has been presented as a minor treaty action.
The Committee determined not to hold a formal inquiry into any of these amendments, and agreed that binding treaty action may be taken in each case.
The Hon Stuart Robert MP
21 November 2016