Parliaments in Australia and Indonesia urged to delay RCEP enabling legislation

October 19: Ahead of this week’s crucial vote in Parliament on the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) implementing legislation, AFTINET has urged parliamentarians to delay the vote to allow for amendments to me made to the text.

Writing on behalf of 13 national civil society organisations, collectively representing millions of Australians, AFTINET has re-circulated a letter detailing community concerns that the agreement has no commitments to human rights and labour rights, could restrict local industry development, increase the risk of exploitation of temporary migrant workers, restrict regulation of aged care services, and restrict State Government regulation of emissions from power stations.

The Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) has also called on parliamentarians to “oppose ratification of RCEP in its current form”, saying:

“Support for RCEP will legitimise Myanmar’s brutal military dictatorship on the world stage.

It will put local jobs at risk and encourage the further abuse and exploitation of vulnerable migrant workers.

It will put local jobs at risk and encourage the further abuse and exploitation of vulnerable migrant workers.

Ratification of RCEP may also prevent the Australian Government from effectively regulating Aged Care, including by implementing the important recommendations of the Aged Care Royal Commission.

We urge you to oppose the RCEP enabling legislation when it comes before the Parliament.”

The Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (ANMF) also warned in a media statement that the trade deal will hurt aged care workers, saying:

“If you agree that the Aged Care system needs more regulation, then you must ensure that there are absolutely no impediments to implementing change. If the RCEP deal goes ahead in its current form it runs the risk of providing loopholes for private overseas companies to avoid being held accountable for how they provide care to aged care residents.”

In Indonesia, civil society organisations have likewise urged the Indonesian House of Representatives to “not ratify the RCEP Agreement before conducting a comprehensive analysis on the RCEP agreement’s impacts and disclose the results to the public”

The Civil Society Coalition for Economic Justice (Koalisi MKE) has detailed community concerns about the RCEP’s impact on Indonesia’s food sovereignty and the rights of workers, particularly peasant farmers and women workers.

“Thus far, we have not seen the Indonesian House of Representatives conduct a study analysing the human rights and social impacts of [RCEP]. We consider that this analysis is urgently essential.”

  • The full press release from Indonesian Civil Society can be read in English here.
  • The full AFTINET letter to parliamentarians can be read here.