17 October 2019

Labor will fight to ensure that the implementation of the Indonesia, Hong Kong and Peru trade agreements fully achieves the goal of creating Australian jobs and opening opportunities for Australian exporters.
Trade generates jobs for Australian workers. Reducing barriers to trade also creates more competitive industries and benefits Australian consumers through lower prices and greater choice.
We will back these agreements, although we are concerned about how this Government will implement them.
We have consulted widely on these issues with stakeholders in the union movement, industry, academia and the public service.
I have written to Trade Minister Simon Birmingham seeking firm commitments to ensure that the implementation of the agreements safeguard Australian jobs and maximise market access for Australian businesses.
We are seeking:

  • A guarantee that these agreements protect Australian jobs.
  • An assurance that working holiday makers are not exploited and are appropriately qualified for the work they undertake.
  • The termination of the existing bilateral investment treaty with Indonesia.
  • The termination or updating of out-dated bilateral investment treaties and investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) clauses.
  • A review of recent ISDS mechanisms in trade agreements.
  • An inquiry by the Joint Standing Committee on Treaties (JSCOT) into Australia’s treaty-making process.
  • An assurance that there is no inference from the agreements that would require the privatisation of government services, nor restrict any future decision to bring acquire public assets.

Labor’s call for the Government to pursue the termination of the existing Bilateral Investment Treaty between Australia and Indonesia was recently backed by JSCOT’s recent review of these trade agreements.
This old treaty contains ISDS clauses with poor safeguards.
Labor does not support the inclusion of ISDS provisions in trade agreements, but the report noted that the provisions in these new agreements include strong safeguards.
Labor MPs on the JSCOT committee were instrumental in ensuring that these recommendations were included in the final report.