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.
Amendments to MARPOL
The International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships, 1973, as modified by the Protocol of 1978 Relating Thereto (MARPOL) is one of the key international instruments addressing marine pollution from ships. MARPOL is administered by the International Maritime Organization (IMO), a specialised agency of the United Nations. The IMO Committee with responsibility for MARPOL is the Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC).
The following amendments have been made to MARPOL:
to regulation 13 of Annex VI; and
Amendments to Annex II
These amendments align MARPOL regulations concerning the carriage of noxious liquid substances in bulk, with the United Nations Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling Chemicals, following amendments to the United Nations Joint Group of Experts on the Scientific Aspects of Marine Environmental Protection (GESAMP) Hazard Evaluation Procedure already adopted by the United Nations Joint GESAMP.
According to the Explanatory Statement, the practical, legal and financial effects of the proposed treaty action for Australia are likely to be negligible as there are no Australian flagged chemical tankers.
Amendments to regulation 13 of Annex VI
These amendments will require certain ships to record their compliance with existing requirements regarding nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions for ships operating in NOx emission control areas (NECAs).
According to the Explanatory Statement, the practical, legal and financial effects of the proposed treaty action for Australia are likely to be negligible as there are no Australian flagged vessels operating in NECAs.
Amendments to Annex IV
These amendments will establish commencement dates for more stringent international regulations concerning the discharge of sewage from passenger ships in the Baltic Sea Special Area.
According to the Explanatory Statement, the practical, legal and financial effects of the proposed treaty action for Australia are likely to be negligible as there are no Australian passenger ships operating in the Baltic Sea Special Area.
Third Protocol establishing the Prolongation of the Treaty with the Kingdom of the Netherlands on the Presence of Australian Personnel in the Netherlands for the Purpose of Responding to the Downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17
This 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 30 June 2017.
The proposed treaty action is the third extension prolonging the treaty. The Treaty originally entered into force on 1 August 2014 with an expiry date of 1 August 2015. In July 2015 the Treaty was extended until 1 August 2016 and in July 2016 until 31 December 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 proposed treaty action does not require legislative change and has negligible legal and financial effects.
JSCOT has previously conducted an inquiry into the Treaty (Report 146). The Minister invoked the National Interest Exemption (NIE), and the treaty entered into force on 1 August 2014 before tabling in Parliament. The First Protocol extending the Treaty was also given expedited consideration by the Committee at the Minister’s request. The Second Protocol was also presented as a minor treaty action.
Exchange of letters with Switzerland to bring forward the commencement date for the exchange of tax information
The treaty action amends the operation of the Convention on Mutual Administrative Assistance in Tax Matters as amended by the Protocol amending the Convention on Mutual Administrative Assistance in Tax Matters (the Convention) to bring forward by one year the exchange of information under the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Common Reporting Standard (CRS) between Australia and Switzerland.
JSCOT considered the Convention in 2012 (Report 127) and it came into force for Australia on 1 December 2012. According to the Explanatory Statement, due to the more recent ratification of the Convention by Switzerland, without the proposed treaty action there would be no legal basis for the exchange of tax information relating to 2017 in 2018. The automatic exchange of information would start in 2019.
The Explanatory Statement advises that the proposed exchange of letters will enable the automatic exchange of information relating to 2017 in 2018. It will allow Switzerland to exchange information about Australian residents relating to the Australian 2016–17 financial year, but only information about 2017 and future years will be exchanged.
According to the Explanatory Statement, no legislative changes are needed to implement the proposed treaty action.
Amendment to Annex I of the International Convention Against Doping in Sport
The treaty action amends Annex I to the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) International Convention Against Doping in Sport 2007 (the Convention). Annex I (Prohibited List-International Standard) identifies the substances and methods of doping which are prohibited in sport. Annex I is an integral part of the Convention.
The amendment updates Annex I to reflect the 2017 Prohibited List adopted by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) on 21 September 2016 which takes effect on 1 January 2017.
According to the Explanatory Statement compliance with the proposed amendment to Annex I of the Convention does not require amendment to the Australian anti-doping legislative framework, as the specification of prohibited substances and methods under the Australian Government’s anti-doping arrangements is based on the current WADA Prohibited List.
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
13 December 2016