The Australian Greens will move amendments to the Customs Amendment (Growing Australian Export Opportunities Across the Asia-Pacific) Bill 2019 to increase the transparency of trade negotiations, exclude Investor-State Dispute Settlements (ISDS) provisions and ensure that protecting human rights, workers and our environment is at the heart of how Australia engages with our region, and the world.
Trade spokesperson Senator Jordon Steele-John said we should be using our trading opportunities with other countries to protect human rights, Australian workers and the environment, which the Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) proposed with Hong Kong, Indonesia and Peru fail to do in their current form.
"While the unions, the community and advocates for our environment are left out of discussions on trade deals, major corporations are invited by governments to contribute to processes that take place largely behind closed doors," he said.
"The provision of ISDS clauses in these FTAs give corporations the right to prosecute and sue governments when they pass laws that are in the public interest, an outcome we saw when plain packaging laws for tobacco were implemented in 2012 and the Australian government was subsequently sued by Phillip Morris.
"A lack of labour market testing means there is no requirement for new jobs to be advertised locally, impacting job prospects for Australian workers and putting migrant workers at risk of serious exploitation.
“In the context of ongoing pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong and the human rights abuses perpetrated against the people of West Papua, the Australian Greens remain strongly opposed to the consideration of these Free Trade Agreements.
"It's time to take the power back from big, multinational corporations by placing human rights, worker’s rights and environmental protection at the centre of how we trade with other countries and ensuring that the community is able to scrutinise and understand the potential impact of these agreements before they are signed into law.
"As global wealth inequality rises and the impacts of the climate crisis are felt more severely, ensure that protecting human rights, workers and our environment is at the heart of how Australia engages with our region, and the world has never been more important."
STEELE-JOHN - Tim Oliver; 0448 316 387