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House of Representatives

International Organisations (Privileges and Immunities) Amendment Bill 1981

International Organisations (Privileges and Immunities) Amendment Act 1982

Explanatory Memorandum

Circulated By Authority of the Minister for Foreign Affairs The Hon. A. A. Street, M.P.


This Bill will amend in two respects existing legislation relating to privileges and immunities which may be accorded in certain circumstances to persons associated with international organisations of which Australia is a member.

The existing legislation is the International Organizations (Privileges and Immunities) Act 1963 under which regulations may be made, consistent with policy in the area concerned, to accord certain privileges and immunities to (inter alia) persons attending conferences of international organisations in Australia as representatives of a member country.

International practice is that representatives of all members of an international organization be accorded privileges and immunities. Australia has ratified the Convention on the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources, to which some regional economic integration organisations could also become parties. The European Communities is expected to accede to the Convention as soon as it enters into force. The Convention establishes a Commission and other organs which will have their seat in Australia. Representatives of regional organisations, and other international organisations in which Australia participates, might attend meetings of those organs in Australia.

When the 1963 Act was drafted it was not contemplated that international organisations, as well as countries, would become members of other international organisations. The first amendment (Clauses 2 to 5) therefore makes provision for this development. The amendment provides that persons attending international conferences in Australia as representatives of defined classes of international organisations may be accorded the same privileges and immunities as those accorded to representatives of countries.

The second amendment (Clause 6) makes legislative provision to enable Australia to implement a taxation obligation under two specific Agreements - one establishing the Common Fund for Commodities and the other establishing the Asian Development Bank. At present Australia is not a party to any other agreement under which a similar concession could be made.

Explanation of Clauses

Clause 1:

Formal clause.

Clause 2:

This sub-clause expands the definition of "international conference" to include a meeting attended by both Australia and prescribed organisations. A prescribed organization may be either "an international organization to which this Act applies" or "an overseas organization to which this Act applies". The former category of organization already exists under the Act; the latter category is defined in Clause 3 of the Bill.
This sub-clause defines "overseas organizations" to include all subsidiary bodies of such organisations.
and (d) These sub-clauses amend sub-section 3(3) and paragraph 3(4)(a) of the Act so that all reference to representatives of countries will include a reference to representatives of international organisations.

Clause 3:

This clause allows an organization to be declared under the Regulations to be "an overseas organization to which this Act applies" if it is an organization of countries in a particular geographical region and Australia is not a member of it.

Clauses 4 and 5

These clauses amend Sections 6 and 7 of the Act so that all references in those Sections to representatives of countries will include references to representatives of international organisations and of overseas organisations.

Clause 6:

This clause authorises the making of Regulations to exempt from taxation on certain income, experts and other classes of people participating in the work of prescribed organisations.

Clause 7:

Formal clause.

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