Committee on Treaties


Peter Khalil: I echo the statements made by the chair of the Joint Standing Committee on Treaties, the member for Wentworth, on report 190 Matters relating to two treaties with Hong Kong. As the member for Wentworth noted, there was agreement on the report. The opposition, and myself as deputy chair, supported the government’s decision to suspend the two treaties with Hong Kong, namely the Agreement for the Surrender of Accused and Convicted Persons between the Government of Australia and the Government of Hong Kong, the extradition treaty, and also the Agreement between the Government of Australia and the Government of Hong Kong concerning Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters—the MLA treaty.

It is critical that, when situations change that cause us to re-examine our treaty arrangements and their integrity, the JSCOT, the Joint Standing Committee on Treaties, is able to seek views widely and to consider the impacts before any suspensions come into effect, and I thank the Minister for Foreign Affairs and the Attorney-General and the government for affording the committee the opportunity to make this examination and this inquiry possible. And thank you to all of those who made submissions and those who attended the public hearings at very short notice as well.

The substance of this is very important because, following the passage of the national security laws that eroded Hong Kong’s independent legal status, there were calls for the urgent review of Australia’s extradition treaty with Hong Kong. I believe the inquiry was necessary, given the need to ensure the funding and integrity of Australia’s international law enforcement cooperation and our extradition frameworks for this inquiry to proceed, and for us to table this report. I thank the JSCOT chair, the member for Wentworth, and all the members of the JSCOT secretariat for their hard work and assistance.