MEDIA RELEASEWednesday September 12, 2018

The Australian Labor Party faces the real prospect of losing the support of Australian workers ahead of the next election if they fail to reverse a decision to blindly support the deeply-flawed Trans-Pacific Partnership.

The Electrical Trades Union has slammed Labor’s failure to demand amendments to the worst aspects of the deal, despite having a casting vote on enabling legislation for the TPP following a commitment by the majority of the Senate crossbench to vote against it.

The union also accused Labor of jumping the gun with their offer of support given two Senate inquiries into the TPP by the Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Committee and the Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee were due to table their final reports in the coming weeks.

“Labor has announced a policy to improve how current trade deals are negotiated, in particular the fact that agreements like the TPP are negotiated in secret without community input, yet they are failing to put that commitment into action by demanding improvements to this trade deal,” ETU National Secretary Allen Hicks said.

“This dodgy deal is opposed by the majority of the Senate crossbench, meaning it can only pass through the parliament if Labor gives it the green light.

“The Opposition not only has an unprecedented ability to demand a better deal, failing to do so will see them forced to accept responsibility for the significant failings of this agreement.”

The union said the TPP would allow temporary workers to be brought into Australia without those jobs being advertised locally first, would not require robust skills assessments to ensure these workers met Australian standards, and would allow multinational corporations to sue the Australian Government if future policies or laws impacted on their profits.

“The TPP is all about looking after the big end of town, maximising profits for multinational corporations at the expense of what is best for the Australian public,” Mr Hicks said.

“These big businesses will be able to bring temporary workers into the country without even advertising those jobs locally, taking away training and employment opportunities for young Australians.

“Our union uncovers foreign workers that are being exploited on Australian worksites on an almost daily basis because of problems with our shonky visa system, but this trade deal will drastically add to that mess.”

The union said workers took no comfort from Labor trade spokesman Jason Clare’s claim the ALP would push for changes to the TPP if elected to Government.

“Labor claims they wouldn’t have negotiated this deal, that they don’t agree with its exemptions from labour market testing or ability for foreign companies to sue the Australian Government, but in the next breath they have announced they will vote for this terrible deal,” Mr Hicks said.

“The Senate crossbench supports action to fix this dodgy deal, but Labor is failing to take this unique opportunity to get it right.

“This dodgy free trade deal is a direct attack on our nation’s sovereignty, it diminishes job opportunities for young Australians, and raises real concerns about worker safety through the lack of appropriate skills assessments.

“The Australian Labor Party has a very real opportunity to get changes to this deal, but it needs to stand up to the Government and demand them.

“Australian workers know that the Liberal Party is only interested in their big end of town mates, but they expect more from the Labor Party when it comes to protecting workers’ rights.”