Please Explain Minister

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade directly contradicted Assistant Trade Minister Keith Pitt in Senate Estimates last week and refused to confirm if future trade agreements would undergo any economic modelling.

In an interview last month, the Assistant Trade Minister was asked a number of times if economic modelling would be conducted on new trade agreements currently being negotiated by the Turnbull Government.

Finally after dodging the question a number of times:

JOURNALIST: It’s ok to say you’re not sure or you don’t know. Does the process include modelling or not?

PITT: The process always includes modelling on our behalf as to what is in our best interests for this country.

Sky News, 25/5/2017

In the past the Government has not always conducted its own economic modelling for all agreements it has signed so any commitment to do this in the future is welcome news.

In Senate Estimates last week officials from the Department of Foreign and Trade were asked to confirm this will happen. Surprisingly, they did not.

Instead they confirmed they had not been directed by the Government to model every future trade agreement and stated it was a decision for the Trade Minister:

“Ultimately it would be for the Minister to decide if he or she wished to commission modelling.”

Senate Estimates, 1/6/2017

These contradictions raise serious concerns around the Department’s own processes and Labor calls on the Minister for Trade to confirm whether new trade agreements will be subject to economic modelling.