Wednesday, 17 October 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; In Committee
I want to bring the committee's attention to the Greens amendment that I moved a few minutes ago. This amendment deals with these most important issues that are lacking in the TPP. As has been pointed out numerous times by me and my colleagues in second reading speeches and also through the committee stage today and yesterday, we are extremely concerned that ISDS provisions remain in the TPP. We also are worried, of course, about the failure to include proper protections for Australian workers through labour market testing.
So this amendment says that, until these issues are dealt with, the TPP would not be able to come into effect. It is the bare minimum that should be required by this chamber—the absolute bare minimum. We've just heard question after question after question that was put to the minister not being answered because of an even more concerning sign that there are 22 other clauses that are incredibly controversial, such as making cancer medication too expensive for cancer patients to access. That is the type of clause which has been simply left there on the side, ready to be activated at any point, and the minister is refusing to answer questions about why Australia allowed those clauses to stay in place. If the minister is going to continue to not answer those questions, we could at least get to fixing what should be the bare minimum for the TPP, and that is removing those ISDS provisions and putting in place some proper protections for Australian workers, which is what this Greens amendment on sheet 8529 does.
Interestingly, these two particular issues—ISDS provisions and the labour market testing—are two things which we know the opposition say they are worried about, yet they are prepared to simply tick this TPP legislation through the chamber today without fixing them. There is a hollow promise that somehow, if Mr Bill Shorten were able to become Prime Minister, this would be magically dealt with. We know that that's not true. We know that the government of the day is not able to simply amend the TPP. We've heard the minister say that already today, that changes would need to be renegotiated across all parties. Australia would have to withdraw from the TPP before anything could be fixed. That's the truth. We've had that confirmed previously by the minister for trade. Here we have the Labor Party trying to wind up debate in this place today, shut down debate, because they're embarrassed that their own position is an absolute furphy. Their own position on this legislation is an absolute furphy. Why? Because they've got some in their party who think this shouldn't be a problem, that ISDS provisions are not a problem and that labour market testing is obviously not a problem, and they've got plenty of people inside their own camp who know that it is.
This amendment put forward by the Greens would fix these things. We don't have to wait for Bill Shorten to become Prime Minister. We could fix it today. Of course, we're going to have Senator Carr jump up in a minute and be very angry at me for pointing this out. You watch. There will be bluster and fury. He's very good at thumping the desk when he is a bit grumpy about how things are going in this place. So I suspect that will happen, because the Labor Party have sold out Australian workers, because the Labor Party have rolled over to back in the TPP, to keep these insidious antidemocratic ISDS clauses in the TPP. They're lying to the Australian people by pretending that somehow it can be fixed if and when Bill Shorten becomes Prime Minister. It's a lie. It's a furphy. Not just the Australian union movement know it; but workers across the country know it too.
I look forward to hearing the justification from the Labor opposition as to why they won't vote for this Greens amendment when it is part of their own party's national platform. I would like to also ask the minister, in light of this amendment, how the government is going to manage the chilling effect on regulation, given the existence of ISDS clauses in the TPP.