House debates

Thursday, 13 September 2018


Customs Amendment (Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership Implementation) Bill 2018, Customs Tariff Amendment (Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership Implementation) Bill 2018; Second Reading

12:51 pm

Photo of Pat ConroyPat Conroy (Shortland, Australian Labor Party, Shadow Assistant Minister for Infrastructure) Share this | Hansard source

I rise to speak on what is known as the enabling legislation for the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the Customs Amendment (Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership Implementation) Bill 2018, and the shadow minister's second reading amendment. Previous speakers have spoken about why Labor has agreed to support this bill. I'm not going to go to that; I'm going to go to my deep concerns about elements that are within the free trade agreement and why it's so important that Labor have committed to fix those things when we're in government. This agreement yet again demonstrates that this government is intent on giving away the sovereignty of this nation. It is intent on trading away things that matter to the vast majority of Australian people for gains for certain sectors.

I will first go to investor-state dispute settlement clauses. This agreement extends to Canadian companies the right to sue the Australian government if the Australian government makes policy decisions that impact on their profitability, a right that Australian corporations do not have. The extension of ISDS must be opposed. It restricts the sovereignty and the ability of this place and the Senate to legislate for the welfare of all Australians. We only have to see what happened when Philip Morris challenged Labor's plain-packaging tobacco laws through the Hong Kong free trade agreement.

ISDS is a cancer. It's a cancer that attacks the sovereignty of democratic governments. It's a cancer that other governments around the world are standing up to. I welcome and applaud the move by Jacinda Ardern's Labour government in New Zealand to work to remove the ISDS clauses in free trade agreements. I welcome the EU's very strong stance on it and the fact that the EU has ruled that any trade agreement that has ISDS has to go through ratification of all EU parliaments because it is such a significant attack on the sovereignty of those parliaments. So I am deeply concerned that this government seems intent on giving away ISDS and empowering foreign corporations to have power over this parliament, because that's what ISDS does.

My other grave concern around the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement is around labour market testing. The labour mobility clauses really diminish the ability of this parliament to regulate immigration policy. This is another trade agreement where this government is trading away immigration policy in return for gains for particular sectors.

Mr Katter interjecting

I'm hearing interjections from the honourable member for Kennedy. He would be slightly more credible if he didn't continue to offer confidence to the government that gives away those rights. If the member for Kennedy were really serious about getting more progressive trade policy, he might think about why he continues to back this government. That demonstrates the inconsistency of the member for Kennedy on this matter. Only the impotent are pure.


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