MPs consider delay in trade agreement ratification amidst concerns about human rights abuses in Hong Kong
September 5, 2019: Concern about human rights abuses against pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong could lead to a delay in the ratification of the Hong Kong trade and investment agreements. This comes after civil society and Union groups, including AFTINET and the ACTU, called on the government to delay voting on the implementing legislation for the agreements until after the human rights situation was resolved.
MP’s from Liberal, Labor and the Greens have all expressed concerns about the situation in Hong Kong and said that it would be a factor in deciding whether to approve the deals.
The Sydney Morning Herald is reporting that Liberal MP Dave Sharma, who is the chair of the Joint Standing Committee on Treaties, which is currently reviewing the agreements, said that he is watching the events in Hong Kong and would be “mindful” of the situation when deciding on how to proceed with the agreements.
Labor MP Peter Khalil stated that “it would not prudent for the government to ratify during such a period of ongoing instability and uncertainty.”
These sentiments were shared by Greens leader Richard Di Natale who stated that "This is the chance for the Australian government to back up its words of concern with action. It is the perfect opportunity to show that there are repercussions for trampling human rights."