Nettle launch Brochure Resurrecting MAI

Speech for Launch of AFTINet’s World Trade Organisation negotiations: resurrecting the MAI? Jubilee Room Parliament House Sydney 24 April 2002


Senator Kerry Nettle, Australian Greens

Thank you for inviting me to speak on behalf of The Greens.

I acknowledge that today we are gathered on Aboriginal land and I pay my respect to the Gadigal people, the traditional owners of this land.

The Greens are utterly opposed to GATS and the Howard Governments position in the current negotiating round of the WTO Trade Agreements.

The Greens have consistently put ourselves on the public record calling for just and sustainable global trade which means:

  • drastic changes to the current WTO to ensure that any body that regulates world trade does so based on principles of equity, sustainability and accountability

  • genuine public discussion about global trade agreements

  • an urgent recognition of the impact of current neo-liberal policies and global trade agreements are having on the most disadvantages people and communities in the world.

Last year The Australian Greens hosted a Global Greens conference with delegates from over 70 Green parties around the world. Corporate globalisation and climate change were the two issues of the greatest concern to the Greens parties from around the globe. I remember Wangari Maathai from Kenya describing corporate globalisation as the new kind of slavery for African people.

The Greens are joining progressive social movements around the globe in the fight against the worst ravages of corporate globalisation that we see outlined in GATS and the current round of WTO Trade Agreements.

We are also committed to calling for change in our nation states to help implement fair trade agreements.

As Pat said, we have runs on the board with the community working with developing countries to defeat the MAI.

The Greens have long been vocal advocates for public education, public health, public transport and public services generally. At a global, national and regional level, communities have a moral responsibility to ensure adequate and equitable provision of these essential services.

The assumption implicit in the approach of GATS, that the market can fulfil this moral responsibility is dangerously false. Only publicly owned and regulated services can ensure that everyone enjoys good health care, education and affordable service provision.

The community sector and other progressive forces in our society need to raise our voices strongly on these issues to combat the constant barrage of lobbying governments receive from the corporate interests. In the last 30 years, the influence that corporations and their transnational capital have had on our governments and public institutions amounts to a slow, creeping coup d'etat.

Aiding and abetting in this act of sovereign suicide are the political parties funded by the corporations.

GATS is a triumph of this corporate lobbying. American Express, Citicorp and other giants of the service industry have joined forces to get a global trade agreement in place to deal with the services industry because over the past 15 years, it has been the fastest growing sector of the world economy and as Joseph Stiglizt, Nobel Laureate and former World Bank Chief Economist said about GATS last year, "What are the services that are to be opened up? Financial services. Which country is the major exporter of financial services? United States. What services are not to be opened up? Construction services, maritime services, services of unskilled labour that are of concern to the developing world. Those remain closed."

We know in whose interest these agreements serve and for that reason we must raise our communities against these would be tyrants and show the way to a just and sustainable future.