JSCOT 101 & why we need trade transparency

17 March 2016

The Joint Standing Committee on Treaties (JSCOT) is currently reviewing submissions on the Trans-Pacific Partnership and it’s expected that public hearings will start soon.

If you’re not sure about exactly what JSCOT does or why it was set up, it’s worth watching a new video by the Australian House of Representatives official YouTube channel.

JSCOT has an important role in scrutinising our trade agreements, but it is very limited, because the committee does not see the text until after the decision to sign it is made by Cabinet, and cannot change it. Parliament only votes on the implementing legislation, not the whole agreement. AFTINET and other critics want to see draft texts during negotiations, and want Parliament to vote on the whole agreement.  See our submission to the 2015 Senate inquiry into the trade agreement process here and AFTINET Convener Dr Patricia Ranald's op-ed 'Trade agreements need more public and parliamentary scrutiny'.

Kelvin Thomson MP says in the video: 

“The greatest frustration for both the committee and the public alike has been the fact that we don’t get to see the text of the treaties until it emerges and is signed, so this treaty making process is like a train in a tunnel and all of a sudden it emerges…”