The Greens spokesperson for Trade, Senator Peter Whish-Wilson says that the impending China trade deal will allow Chinese private and state-owned enterprises (SOEs) to sue the Australian government over public interest legislation that affects their investment.
Senator Whish-Wilson said, “This is a new era in Australian governance. The inclusion of Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) provisions has opened a Pandora’s Box that will leave a lasting legacy of doubt over the Australian Parliament’s ability to make laws in the national interest without fear of litigation from a Chinese investor.
“Stunningly, Chinese State-Owned Enterprises (SOEs) will also be able to use these provisions to protect their investments in Australia from future changes to laws.
“This means that the Chinese Government can now, via its SOEs, sue the Australian government over changes to laws that impact on its interests.
“The Liberal government says that they have included some safeguards, but ISDS safeguards have failed to limit litigation in several trade deals already in place around the world. The only safeguard is not to have ISDS provisions in the first place.
“Chinese businesses would be able to challenge future legislation changes made here via international arbitration panels that lack transparency, but even Australian companies won’t have this privilege in their own country.
“Chinese investors have already made use of ISDS provisions by suing the Belgium government for $2.2 billion over their role in intervening in the Fortis Bank that was collapsing during the financial crisis.
“Right now, with opposition from France and Germany, the EU is on the verge of excluding ISDS from their landmark trade agreement with the United States.
“The Australian government excluded ISDS from the US FTA a decade ago because it was too risky. The inclusion of ISDS in this China deal is an error of judgement that will haunt us all for decades,” he concluded.