Sep 10, 2018

Private Members’ Business – Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement – Monday, 10 September 2018

Following this debate, there’s a motion to be moved by the member for Sydney on the gender pay gap, for which four Labor speakers have been listed, and there is not a single member of the government parties, the Liberal and National parties, who is prepared to engage in a debate about the gender pay gap. Now, given the issues of bullying that occurred in the last fortnight from those opposite, particularly targeting women members of the coalition—as outlined by the member for Chisholm, who said it was so bad that she will withdraw from politics at the next election, backed up by the former Deputy Leader of the Liberal Party and foreign minister, by Senator Gichuhi and by the Minister for Women, the member for Higgins—it is extraordinary that those opposite have felt like they should not participate in a debate about the gender pay gap.

Here, if they participated in this debate on trade, they could explain why they believe that free trade agreements should include investor-state dispute settlement provisions, which undermine Australia’s national sovereignty and the right of this parliament to determine the way that health policy and other policies operate here in this nation. This is a big distinction between Labor’s approach and the approach of those opposite. We understand how important trade has been to global growth and how important trade has been in lifting up the living standards of people in both First World nations, such as Australia, and, importantly, the underdeveloped world, particularly in the Asia-Pacific and Indian Ocean regions. We understand that trade is a driver of economic growth but we also understand that, without appropriate provisions that ensure that the national interest is served through that global process, we can have outcomes that do undermine Australia’s national economic sovereignty to make decisions about issues such as health care and to make decisions about pharmaceuticals, for example. That’s why we’re quite happy to debate these issues.

We also believe that there should be independent economic modelling of the TPP-11 and of other trade agreements which are proposed, including the Australia-Indonesia free trade agreement which is proposed. What we say is that we are all for free trade, but we are all for it with appropriate provisions to ensure that there’s transparency and to ensure that the national sovereignty and the right of this parliament to make determinations in the national interest continues. It’s a pity that those opposite are such a shambolic rabble that they are incapable of defending their government’s own policy, which is why they should just call an election.