TPP — Australia Betrayed

This week saw the Australian Parliament quietly pass legislation allowing for the ratification of the Trans Pacific Partnership — a Free Trade Agreement encompassing the ASEAN nations, along with Australia, China, Japan, Korea, India and New Zealand.

As with all multilateral agreements since the initial Lima Agreement, the TPP seeks to strip away most of the protections of sovereign nations, in order to facilitate the smooth flow of both cheap labour and international capital around the world under the guise of “increasing trade”.

Following months of supposed opposition by the Australian Labor Party, at the behest of the Union movement, Labor has capitulated in spectacular fashion at the 11th hour by agreeing to support the passage of the legislation, the betrayal apparently softened by the reassurance that, once elected, the Labor Party will return to the table and seek to negotiate out the more unpalatable facets of the agreement.

Having bleated incessantly about the evils of the absence of labour market testing and investor-state dispute settlement provisions (ISDS), which allow foreign companies to sue the Australian government for policy changes (issues about which so-called minor parties have raised concerns for decades), it seems somewhat naïve on the part of the Labor Party to claim that they can just change the rules of the game once the die is cast.

Even more ludicrous is the suggestion that “side deals” could be made by participant nations in which the ISDS could be removed and labour market testing could be reintroduced, with the example of Canada and Australia being cited. However, what the Labor Party conveniently ignores is the fact that, while labour market testing agreements may be reciprocated, they are not always equal. Already six nations have waived market labour testing, but these cover white collar professionals — potentially leaving the flood gates open to let in cheap unskilled labour from the Asian region.

The fact is that irrespective of the noises made by both the Labor Party and the Union Movement, once again Australians have been left out in the cold, and their interests and welfare have been ignored. Labor’s track record for pushing globalisation, asset sales, and deregulation is there for all to see, and the lame attempts to reassure working Australians that we can trust the Labor Party to salvage the conditions we had previously should be treated with the contempt it deserves.

However, we leave the last word to the ALP’s trade spokesman, Jason Clare:

“It’s not protectionism to say that before a company brings in an electrician or a carpenter or a mechanic from overseas it should first have to check if there is an Australian who can do the job,” he said. “It’s just common sense.”

Yes, Mr. Clare, it is — on both counts.

References:
Australia passes TPP legislation”, NHK (Japan Broadcasting Corporation)
TPP to be ratified, but Labor vows new trade rules”, Australian Financial Review, 11 September 2018
A fair go for Australians in trade deals”, Inbox.News, 11 September 2018 (Jason Clare, MP)

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