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Labor has caved into the government on ChAFTA: Greens

Greens Trade spokesperson Senator Peter Whish-Wilson and Employment & Workplace Relations spokesperson Adam Bandt MP today said Labor has caved into the government on the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement.

Senator Whish-Wilson said, “This is a second-rate agreement created by a fundamentally flawed trade process.

“Whilst the Labor and Liberal parties will be slapping each other on the back and celebrating this as a political victory for themselves, many Australian workers are likely to feel this is anything but a victory.

“These trade deals are a Trojan horse for labour market deregulation agendas, and giving special rights to corporations to sue over democratic government decisions.

“At the recent national Labor Conference their members reiterated their opposition to Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) clauses and now every single Labor MP will again vote to make these clauses a reality.

“When it comes to these dangerous ISDS clauses, Labor appears to be continuing its tradition of speaking against them and voting for them.

“If Australian sovereignty is threatened by future ISDS claims against our parliamentary or government decisions, Labor, along with the Liberal government, will need to bear the responsibility of having allowed that to happen.

“The Greens have routinely pointed out the take-it-or-leave-it treaty-making process is broken and the only way it will be fixed is if the parliament actually votes against one of these agreements. Once we have done this, then the government will be forced to develop these agreements through a proper and transparent process.

“The Greens will be voting against the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement and will always vote against enabling trade agreements that include dangerous and anti-democratic ISDS clauses,” he concluded.

Mr Bandt on labour mobility aspects of ChAFTA

“Labor and Liberal have done a deal on the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement that supposedly includes protections for workers,” Mr Bandt said.

“Labor has been sold a pup and has caved into the government.”

“There are holes big enough in this Labor/Liberal deal to fly planeloads of underpaid, exploited workers through.”

“The protections Labor has negotiated with the government are only in regulation, not legislation. Any so called protection introduced by a Minister one day can be removed the next.”

“There is no cap on the number of visas that can be issued at any one time.”

“Significantly, as Bill Shorten admitted to Parliament, whole swathes of visas can be issued for so-called ‘Contractual Service Suppliers’ without any of these new protections applying at all.”

“Labor and Liberal have left a gaping hole that will allow exploitation of overseas and local workers to continue.”

“The Greens have no problem with overseas workers coming to Australia to work, but we have a basic principle that employers should be advertising locally first,” he concluded.

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