House of Representatives Committees


Membership of the Committee
Resolution of appointment
List of abbreviations
Chapter 1 Introduction
Chapter 2 An overview of the seminar
Chapter 3 Assessing the 1996 Reforms in 2006
Appendix A – Program
Appendix B – List of Participants
Appendix C - Transcript
Appendix D – Speech by the Hon Alexander Downer MP, Minister for Foreign Affairs
Appendix E – Additional Papers


The seminar Treaty Scrutiny: A Ten Year Review was held on 30-31 March 2006 to mark ten years of operation of the Joint Standing Committee on Treaties (JSCOT).

Under the Australian Constitution tre aty-making is the formal responsibility of the Executive Government. The Constitution does not confer on the Parliament any formal role in tre aty making. Nevertheless, through the work of JSCOT, the Parliament plays an important role in examining all proposed tre aty actions that are tabled in Parliament.

Prior to the establishment of JSCOT, during the 1970s, treaties were tabled in Parliament but often in a manner which prevented meaningful Parliamentary scrutiny or input. Treaties were tabled in bulk, approximately every six months and often after they had entered into force.

By the 1990s Australia had entered into a period of negotiating a broader range of treaties - some of them quite controversial. There was also a growing awareness that intern ational oblig ations affected domestic legal regimes and policy responses to a wide range of national issues. In recognition that Parliament ought to be able to scrutinise Australia’s international treaty obligations, JSCOT was established in May 1996.

Over the last ten years significant steps have been taken to improve the openness and transparency of tre aty making in Australia. Proposed tre aty actions are tabled in Parliament before they enter into force and treaty texts and the rationale for entering into them are made readily accessible to the people of Australia. There are also mechanisms in place to ensure th at the St ates and Territories are consulted on actions which may affect them.

After ten years of JSCOT it was fitting th at a seminar be conducted to assess the 1996 reforms and to look more broadly at the role of the legislature in the treaty making process, both here and overseas.

Dr Andrew Southcott MP


Membership of the Committee


Dr Andrew Southcott MP


Deputy Chair

Mr Kim Wilkie MP



Hon Dick Adams MP

Senator Andrew Bartlett


Mr Michael Johnson MP

Senator Carol Brown


Mr Michael Keenan MP

Senator Brett Mason


Mrs Margaret May MP

Senator Julian McGauran


Mrs Sophie Mirabella MP

Senator Glenn Sterle


Mr Bernie Ripoll MP

Senator Russell Trood


Hon Bruce Scott MP

Senator Dana Wortley




Committee Secretariat





Seminar Coordinator

James Rees

(from 29/5/2006 )

Gillian Gould

(until 28/4/2006 )

Serica Mackay

Seminar Staff

Heidi Luschtinetz


Stephanie Mikac


Janet Holmes


Peter Banson


Clare James


Gaye Milner

Resolution of appointment

The Resolution of Appointment of the Joint Standing Committee on Treaties allows it to inquire into and report upon:

  1. matters arising from treaties and related National Interest Analyses and proposed treaty actions presented or deemed to be presented to the Parliament;
  2. any question relating to a treaty or other international instrument, whether or not negotiated to completion, referred to the committee by:
    1. either House of the Parliament, or
    2. a Minister; and
  3. such other matters as may be referred to the committee by the Minister for Foreign Affairs and on such conditions as the Minister may prescribe.

List of abbreviations


Asia-Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate Change


Association of South East Asian Nations


Australasian Legal Information Institute


Council of Australian Governments


Free Trade Agreement


International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights


Joint Standing Committee on Treaties


National Interest Analysis


Standing Committee on Treaties


United Nations


Western Australia


World Trade Organisation

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