Minor treaty actions
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 can choose to formally inquire into these treaty actions, or accept them without a formal inquiry and report.
The Committee has been asked to consider the following four minor treaty actions.
Amendments to the Code of the Maritime Labour Convention 2006 approved at Geneva on 9 June 2016
The Code of the Maritime Labour Convention 2006 (MLC) sets minimum working conditions for seafarers to work on ships. The Amendments are to Regulations 4.3 and 5.1 of the MLC. The Amendments relate to the inspection and certification of ships to ensure continued compliance with national laws and the protection of seafarers from harassment and bullying in their employment. The Amendments clarify that the effects of harassment and bullying should be taken into account by a ships’ Administration when setting standards for the protection of seafarer welfare. For Australia flagged ships these protections are provided for under existing Australian workplace legislation. The Amendments also allow for the extension of maritime labour certificates issued to ships where a new certificate cannot be issued immediately.
The proposed treaty action is the deemed acceptance by Australia of the Amendments. There is provision for Members to formally object to the Amendments however Australia does not propose to object.
Amendment to Annex III of the Rotterdam Convention on the Prior Informed Consent Procedure for Certain Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides in International Trade
The following chemicals have been added to Annex III of the Rotterdam Convention on the Prior Informed Consent Procedure for Certain Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides in International Trade (the Convention):
cabofuran (an insecticide) has been added to the pesticides category;
trichlorfon (an insecticide) has been added to the pesticides category;
short-chain chlorinated paraffins (used in extreme pressure lubricants in the metal processing industry) have been added to the industrial chemicals category; and
all tributyltin compounds (an additive in paints and stains) have been added to the industrial chemicals category.
According to the Explanatory Statement, the treaty action means that the importation of these chemicals will become subject to the Convention’s Prior Informed Consent (PIC) Procedure. The PIC Procedure is a mechanism for formally distributing the decisions of importing Parties (known as Import Responses) as to whether they wish to receive future shipments of chemicals listed in Annex III and for ensuring compliance with these decisions by exporting Parties.
The Explanatory Statement states that the additional administration for any company wishing to import or export these chemicals in the future is expected to be minimal, principally requiring submission of a permit application to the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources (for pesticides) or the Department of Health (for industrial chemicals). The Department of Health also requires submission of shipping documentation for verification purposes (only for industrial chemicals). Permit applications are usually processed within 10 business days. The Explanatory Statement notes that for pesticides, import and export permits do not attract fees. However, for industrial chemicals, permit fees are:
$900 for an annual export authorisation permit;
$1,950 for an export authorisation permit; and
$1,950 for an annual import authorisation permit.
A number of minor legislative amendments to Australian domestic law will be required.
The Amendments entered into force on 15 September 2017. Australia has nine months to advise the Secretariat of an Import Response concerning the future import of the chemicals listed ie by 15 June 2018. It is proposed that Australia consents to the import of these chemicals subject to specified conditions as applied under Australian regulations.
The Committee determined not to hold a formal inquiry into any of the minor treaty actions, and agreed that binding treaty action may be taken in each case.
Hon. Stuart Robert MP
2 May 2018