Australia shelves planned extradition treaty with China

"I'd be very, very cautious about ratifying this treaty at this time", Mr Abbott said.

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull yesterday cancelled a vote on a long-awaited extradition treaty with China after MPs from both the ruling coalition and the opposition expressed concerns that suspects transferred to China may not receive a fair trial.

Foreign minister Julie Bishop is in emergency talks with Beijing after the Australian government announced it would not proceed with the ratification of an extradition treaty with China.

The treaty could be shot down in the Senate later this week through a looming disallowance motion, with Labor keeping its cards close to its chest and the Greens opposed. The prime ministers who have followed Howard in the past decade have proved less enthusiastic about the deal, which was never ratified. Several Coalition MPs have discussed crossing the floor and conservative figures including Tony Abbott and Cory Bernardi have voiced opposition.

Ms Bishop confirmed she had heard concerns at the meeting about the treaty but added: "I don't recall any of those now raising concerns raising concerns during the treaty-making process".

The decision to tank the treaty came on Tuesday morning.

Mr Keenan and Attorney-General George Brandis briefed around 10 Coalition MPs about the deal on Monday afternoon.

"If you go out and make some grand statement in the Senate today, it's just foolishness and I can't believe, to be honest, that the Labor Party is going to participate in this", he said.

Trade Minister Steve Ciobo also warned the collapse of the treaty could affect three Crown Resorts employees being held in China. It has not been made clear whether the cases involving Australians who have been held by Chinese authorities will be impacted by the development.

'It is very much in Australia's national interests for us to have the highest level of co-operation with China and other countries with whom we have an extradition treaty, ' she said.

"No matter what assurance we are given by the Chinese Government, you can't rely on the evidence, you can't rely on claims and you can't rely on the justice system that people won't be put to death", Senator Bernardi said.

"It's a 99.99 per cent conviction rate - I don't know anyone that really thinks that's transparency or justice as we know it".

If Australia had ratified the pact, it would have become one of the few Western countries besides France and Spain to enter into an extradition treaty with China.

An Amnesty submission on the treaty flagged a number of concerns about the human rights safeguards that were in place.

In Beijing, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told reporters that the treaty would help in the fight against transnational crime and promote judicial and law enforcement cooperation.

The story Turnbull pulls plug on China treaty under pressure from Labor, backbenchers first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.

  • Leroy Wright