Greens spokesperson for Trade, Senator Whish-Wilson, and spokesperson for Industrial Relations, Adam Bandt, will today release the Greens Trade initiative and call for Labor to stop trying to have it both ways on the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP), workers’ rights and local procurement policies.
Senator Whish-Wilson said, “The ALP continues to walk both sides of the street on the TPP. Their MPs say they oppose Investor-State Dispute Settlement clauses (ISDS), but if their policy is to mean anything they must vote against the TPP.
“The ALP vote was decisive in the passing of the China and Korea free trade agreements and both of these agreements contained ISDS.
“My question to Penny Wong is simple: will the ALP vote for or against the TPP?
“The Labor Party has a narrow view of the treaty-making process, that only the Executive has a say in what deals we sign and what is included in the fine print, while conveniently forgetting that most deals are so complicated they require legislative change. The Greens will never let our votes be used as a rubber stamp for the government of the day.
“Trade deals are now about much more than tariffs and quotas. They bring with them a whole lot or restrictions around what laws Australia can and cannot introduce on foreign labour, local procurement and environmental laws.
“Labor announced a trade policy last week that avoids the reality of the treaty-making process. The negotiation process is broken and needs to change. Some special interests, such as multinational corporations, have full access to draft texts, but the Australian public and parliament have none. Trade negotiations will always be profoundly anti-democratic while these deals are negotiated in secret.
“The Liberals promised rivers of gold would flow from their trade deals but the rivers ran dry. Australia has had a period of record trade deficits.
“Not only did the car industry cite these trade deals as a reason for leaving Australia, the supposed winners of these deals, like the dairy industry, ended up over-investing on the mooted benefits and are now dealing with price crashes from the inevitable over-supply.
Adam Bandt said, “The Greens never bought into the hype and spin of the Liberal Party regarding these deals and we have been proven right. We need the Productivity Commission to undertake an independent economic analysis of these trade deals before they are signed,” he concluded.
“These trade deals are creating two sets of workplace laws and are taking away people's rights at work."
“Unions rightly campaigned against the China Australia Free Trade Agreement because it threatens our industrial relations system that they've fought to protect for years.
"Labor could have stopped it but they chose not to and now we're seeing the consequences."
“Every single agreement of this kind that Australia has signed has eroded our ability to have local procurement policies at a Federal, State and Local level to support local jobs and industries."
“Labor is talking up buy-local steel policies but at the same time are talking up their role in negotiating the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Labor must choose: do they want local procurement to support local jobs and industries or do they want more trade deals?” he concluded.