August 13: ABC online news China FTA fact check finds that the China FTA does not require checking for availability of local workers before decisions to employ temporary overseas workers, despite the Trade Ministers’ claims that such checking is required.
August 5, 2015 Dr Patricia Ranald's oped in the Sydney Morning Herald
With public hearings for the Parliamentary Inquiry into the China Free Trade Agreement under way, the Shenhua Watermark coal mine on the Liverpool Plains, in north-west NSW, may provide a test case for some of the key clauses in the agreement on governments' rights to regulate mining projects for environmental reasons and on the employment of temporary overseas workers on such projects.
Read more here
The AFTINET submission to the Joint Standing Committee on Treaties critcises the unprecedented expansion of the use of temporary labour in a trade agreement, despite government denials. It also criticises the the inclusion of Investor rights to sue governments (ISDS) and the lack of commitment by either government to enforceable labour rights and environmental standards. AFTINET has made a similar submission to the Senate Inquiry. See copy here.
Over 5,000 people rallied against the China - Australia Free Trade Agreement outside the Joint Standing Committee on Treaties hearing taking place in the NSW Parliament House. The rally was organised by Unions NSW.
Over 300 people from unions and community groups protested about the China - Australia Free Trade Agreement and the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership outside the ALP National Conference in Melbourne early on July 24, 2015.
MEDIA RELEASE, July 23, 2015
TPP Protest at ALP Conference, Melbourne on July 24 as TPP negotiators meet in Hawaii for possible shameful trade-offs
“Community groups are rallying in the Melbourne winter at 8 am on Friday July 24 outside the ALP conference at the Melbourne Convention Centre to ask the ALP to reject bad trade deals like the China FTA and the TPP. On the same day TPP negotiators begin their secret meeting in the luxury beach resort of Maui in Hawaii, with TPP Trade Ministers scheduled to meet there from July 28-31 to try to finish the deal,” Dr Patricia Ranald, Coordinator of the Australian Fair Trade and investment Network said today.
Melbourne: Rally outside the ALP Conference on the China FTA and TPP, Friday July 24, 8 am, Melbourne Convention Centre, near the Polly Woodside ship.
Brisbane: Rally outside the China FTA Parliamentary hearings, Monday ,July 27, 12 noon, Commonwealth Law Courts, North Quay
Adelaide: Public meeting on the China FTA and TPP, Tuesday, July 28, 7pm, Ingle Farm Recreation Centre, Cnr Roopena St & Beovich Rd, Ingle Farm.
Sydney: Rally outside the China FTA Parliamentary hearings, Friday, July 31, 12 noon, NSW Parliament House, Macquarie St, Sydney,
July 9, 2015: The Daily Telegraph hosts a debate between Union Secretary Michael O'Connor and Trade Minister Andrew Robb about the impact on jobs and workers' rights of the increases in temporary workers permitted by the terms of the China FTA.
July 7, 2015: This Essential Media poll released today shows voters across the political spectrum reject the inclusion of ISDS clauses in the TPP. The question was specific to the TPP but could also be an indication of views about ISDS in the China FTA.
Overall, 61% think that foreign companies should not be able to sue the Government for losses due to changes in policy and only 10% think they should.
68% of Greens voters, 66% of Liberal/National voters and 58% of Labor voters think they should not be able to sue.
24th June 2015:Peter Martin reports in the Sydney Morning Herald that The Productivity Commission has launched a scathing attack on Australia's latest series of free trade agreements, saying they grant legal rights to foreign investors not available to Australians, expose the government to potentially large unfunded liabilities and add extra costs on businesses attempting to comply with them.
The Productivity Commission is a statutory body which does research on economic policy and is generally in favour of free trade.
Leaks about the text of the Trans Pacific Partnership suggested it will "include obligations on pharmaceutical price determination arrangements in Australia and other TPP members of an uncertain character and intent... The history of intellectual property arrangements being addressed in preferential trade deals is not good."