No more untested trade agreements negotiated in secret: ETU

Nicholas McCallum

MEDIA RELEASE: Monday, 4 March 2019

The Electrical Trade Union is urging the Morrison Government to be upfront and open about the benefits of the free trade agreements (FTA) for Australian workers – an impossible task when deals are done in secret.

ETU National Secretary said the signing of the Indonesia FTA today was a sideshow act from a desperate government short on achievements. 

“This deal is being rushed through in the dying days of the Morrison Government and ignoring the need for an independent assessment,” Mr Hicks said.

“This is the last roll of the dice from a rotten government that has continually put big business interests above ordinary Australians.

“The devil is always in the details, but the Abbott-Turnbull-Morrison Government has made an art of banning skills assessments, local labour-market testing while allowing companies to pay foreign workers pennies.”

Mr Hicks said it was impossible for the people of Australia to know if their interests are being pursued when these deals are negotiated behind closed doors.

“Australians need to know whether these deals have their interests in mind, but that’s impossible to know when they are done in secret,” he said.

“With an election due to be called at any moment this is a desperate move from the ailing Morrison Government that is once again keeping the public in the dark.”

Mr Hicks said the ETU supported AFTINET’s calls for independent scrutiny of the Indonesia FTA and all other trade pacts that are negotiated in secret but fail to put Australians’ needs first.

“At a time of record youth unemployment the Morrison Government is being weak on borders and raising the number of workers allowed to come in four-fold,” he said.

“The ETU is not against trade agreements, especially with our neighbours in this region, but the idea that they are free is a nonsense when they cost local workers opportunities.”

The ETU urges the future Shorten Labor Government to adopt strong protections and assessments of current and future trade agreements to ensure labour-market testing and environmental protections are always present and Investor-State Dispute Settlements are never included.

Media enquiries: ETU National Communications Coordinator – Nicholas McCallum

0419 499 886, [email protected]

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