Senate debates

Tuesday, 26 November 2019


Customs Amendment (Growing Australian Export Opportunities Across the Asia-Pacific) Bill 2019, Customs Tariff Amendment (Growing Australian Export Opportunities Across the Asia-Pacific) Bill 2019; In Committee

12:57 pm

Photo of Jordon Steele-JohnJordon Steele-John (WA, Australian Greens) Share this | Hansard source

I move:

(2) Clause 2, pages 2 and 3, table items 2 to 4, omit the table items, substitute:

This amendment follows on from the amendment put previously in relation to ISDS by now giving the chamber the opportunity to make the implementation of these free trade agreements contingent upon comprehensive labour market testing. We do so for a very, very simple reason. We in the Greens would never quibble or seek to oppose the ability of any person to come to Australia and to work and be protected while they work in a safe workplace. But what we see, particularly with the Indonesia agreement, is a process being opened up by which permits have been granted to that nation for work which can be utilised without undertaking the pretty basic principle of checking to make sure whether or not there is anybody currently present within the community who is able to do that job and who has the qualifications to do that job.

This is another step down the road towards the fundamental undermining of labour standards here in Australia. We know what happens when we let big corporates and countries bring in workers in these ways. They often end up being exploited. They often end up working in subpar conditions. They often have the tenuous nature of their residency here in Australia used as a pathway through which they are discouraged from flagging issues in their workplace. It is not something that we should be promoting or permitting. It's definitely not something we should be signing away as part of a trade agreement with another nation.

So we put these amendments on the table to give the Senate the opportunity to close this particular loophole and ensure that we return to promoting high labour standards and workers' rights and that we do everything we possibly can to guard against the erosion of work standards and potential erosional impacts on wages. I commend the amendment to the Senate.


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