UK Free Trade Deal Sells out Aussie Workers

Scott Morrison’s proposed UK free trade deal with Boris Johnson cuts the legs out from under Australian workers, removing key labour market protections and giving British firms a fifteen year head start through lower tariffs.

UK Government promotional material outlines how the deal benefits British workers at the expense of Aussies. Key boasts include:

‘Aussie firms will no longer have to prioritise hiring Australians nationals first’ when discussing temporary ‘high skilled professionals’ suggesting Labour market testing has been removed and critical safety precautions such as mandatory skills assessments will be abolished.

On Government procurement the UK government states ‘this is the the most substantial level of access Australia has ever granted.’

The ETU is also concerned that tariffs for UK businesses to export to Australia are reduced overnight while tariffs for Australian businesses to export to the UK will only be gradually reduced over nearly 15 years.

“The Prime Minister has some serious explaining to do,” said ETU assistant National Secretary, Michael Wright. “On the face of it, this deal looks like a disgrace.

“Scott Morrison has sold us out like sponge cake. The requirement to offer jobs to unemployed Australians first will clearly be watered down. And British business will get a 15 year headstart over their Aussie competitors.

“The Nationals and some elements of the Liberal Party love to wrap themselves in the flag when it suits their political interest. Now is the time to show that they’re fair dinkum. They should demand the Government table this document in parliament before it is signed. No one should be afraid of scrutiny, especially when the stakes are so high.

“Our Union has seen the consequences of dud trade deals before, especially with China and Indonesia. It’s not too late to fix this and get it right. Hopefully there are some in the Liberal and National parties who put the national interest first.”

Next stages for the proposed FTA include further negotiation of around 30 chapters of the agreement over the next few months. The government will do this behind closed doors, locking the Australian public out of that process. If it is signed then it will go to the Joint Standing Committee on Treaties (JSCOT) for review and inquiry. 

We will be fighting against this agreement in its current state, so stay tuned for more news over the coming months.  

This article was publised on 16 June 2021.