Australia-Iceland Double Taxation Convention and Underwater Cultural Heritage Convention recommended for ratification

THE Joint Standing Committee on Treaties (JSCOT) has recommended the Australian Government ratifies the convention between Australia and Iceland for the Elimination of Double Taxation with respect to Taxes on Income and the Prevention of Tax Evasion and Avoidance and its Protocol (Reykjavík, October 12, 2022) (Tax Convention) and the convention on the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage (Paris, November 2, 2001) (UCH Convention).

The Tax Convention would establish a framework for the taxation of cross-border transactions between Australia and Iceland. It identifies the persons and taxes to which the convention would apply, establishes where various types of income would be taxed, and specifies how relief from double taxation would be provided.

JSCOT Chair, Josh Wilson MP said, "This would be the 46th double taxation agreement to which Australia is a party. Eliminating double taxation through the Tax Convention would encourage expanded investment and economic activity between Australia and Iceland.”

The UCH Convention focuses on the protection and preservation of underwater cultural heritage that has been underwater continuously or periodically for at least 100 years.

Mr Wilson said: “Australia has become a leader in UCH and proudly helped to draft this convention. Ratification would allow more scope for Australia to assist other state parties in the preservation of Australian UCH outside our own waters, like war ships sunk in battle. Australia would also be able to lead by example and encourage other states in the Asia-Pacific to become state parties.”

The importance of preserving Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander UCH was raised during the public hearing.

Mr Wilson said: “Academics report that over the past 20,000 years 2 million square kilometres of Australia’s continental landmass has been submerged. This means that many historic Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander sites - dating back thousands of years - lie underwater and can be protected, preserved or studied.”

The committee considered evidence from the government that the harmonisation of Commonwealth, state, and territory legal regimes would be encouraged as a result of ratification. This would help create a more consistent protection and management of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander UCH.

“The preservation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander underwater cultural heritage is of vital importance to Australia, and this can be better protected through the provisions of the Convention,” Mr Wilson said.

The convention would also provide for public awareness of UCH, education, research, training in underwater archaeology and the exchange of technology. Notably, the Convention contains an Annex of Rules for activities directed at UCH. 

As part of its inquiry into UCH, the committee heard from a range of stakeholders in the field of UCH including government, non-government organisations, academics, and other specialists who all supported ratification.

The report can be found on the Committee website, along with further information on the inquiry.




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