The Cluster Munition Coalition – Australia, of which ChildFund Australia is a member, has today welcomed the Australian Government’s decision to push back Senate debate on the Cluster Munition Prohibition Bill to allow time to seriously consider the issues raised by the Fix the Bill campaign.
The current wording of the bill would allow Australian troops to directly and actively assist in the use of cluster bombs. It also explicitly allows non-state parties to stockpile cluster bombs on Australian soil and permits them to transit cluster bombs through Australian ports and airspace. This is at odds with the purpose of the Convention on Cluster Munitions, which seeks to ban cluster bombs once and for all.
In recent weeks, concerns raised by organisations including Human Rights Watch, the Red Cross and ChildFund Australia, as well as the former Chief of the Australian Defence Force General Peter Gration, the former Secretary of the Department of Defence Paul Barratt and former Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser, have generated significant media interest in the campaign. Support from GetUp! also encouraged members of the public to call their local senators and encourage them to “Fix the Bill”.
ChildFund Australia CEO Nigel Spence says: “This is a very encouraging result – thank you to everyone who has got behind this campaign. For us, this is a child protection issue, as well as a human rights issue. Cluster munitions devastate lives not only during conflict but for decades after. Children are particularly vulnerable to injury and death from unexploded munitions. It is important that we continue to push for a strong ban on cluster bombs to protect children now and in the future.”