Media Release: Community groups urge Labor and cross-bench to oppose Indonesia, Hong Kong and Peru trade deals

Community groups representing millions say trade deals with Indonesia, Hong Kong and Peru put corporate rights before people and environment and urge Labor and cross-bench to oppose them

“National organisations representing unions, church, aid and development, environment and public health constituencies have written to Labor and cross-bench MPs asking them to oppose implementing legislation for trade deals with Peru, Indonesia and Hong Kong,” AFTINET Convener Dr Patricia Ranald said today

The organisations include the Australian Council of Trade Unions, the Australian Catholic Social Justice Council, ActionAid Australia, the Australian Conservation Foundation, Friends of the Earth Australia and the Public Health Association of Australia.

“The Report of the government-dominated joint Standing Committee on Treaties has predictably recommended in favour of the Indonesia and Hong Kong deals. The government intends to bundle their implementing legislation together with the Peru FTA and rush them through Parliament in one Bill. This gives even less opportunity than usual to scrutinise and debate the merits of each of these three agreements before voting on the legislation,” said Dr Ranald.

“The letters note that the deals include controversial rights for foreign investors to sue governments for millions over domestic laws, known as ISDS, including over environmental and other public interest laws. This is not only contrary to the policies of Labor, Greens and Centre Alliance but also runs counter to international trends away from ISDS,” said Dr Ranald.

“The Australian government recently agreed to exclude ISDS from the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership involving China, India, Japan, South Korea, New Zealand, Indonesia and nine other ASEAN countries. ISDS is excluded from current negotiations for the Australia-EU FTA, and the US and Canada have recently excluded it from the revised version of the North American Free Trade Agreement,” said Dr Ranald

The Indonesia deal also proposes to expand the numbers of temporary workers who are tied to one employer and experience wage theft and other forms of exploitation, and none of the deals have enforceable commitments by governments to implement labour rights and environmental standards,“ said Dr Ranald.

Recent polling shows 75-80% community opposition to the inclusion of ISDS and increased numbers of vulnerable temporary workers in trade agreements. The letter calls on Labor, Greens and Centre alliance to implement their policies and oppose these deals,” said Dr Ranald. 

Contact Dr Patricia Ranald 0419 695 841