A fair go for Australians in trade deals

Labor will permanently fix the way we do trade deals to put Australian workers first and stop future governments from signing up to trade deals that include clauses that allow foreign companies to sue the Australian government.

The Liberals have eroded Australians’ trust in trade by signing trade agreements that:

  • Allow companies to bring in foreign workers without first checking if there’s an Australian who can do the job by waiving labour market testing requirements, and
  • Include clauses that allow foreign companies to sue the Australian Government (known as ISDS provisions).

This is the sort of thing that makes Australians very angry.
It’s not protectionism to say that before a company brings in an electrician or a carpenter or a mechanic from overseas it should first have to check if there is an Australian who can do the job. It’s just common sense. 
A Shorten Labor Government will introduce laws that prohibit governments from signing trade agreements that waive labour market testing or include ISDS provisions.
Trade agreements should not include ISDS clauses or waive labour market testing, nor should they require the privatisation of public services including its health, education or welfare sectors or undermine the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme.
Australia is a trading nation. Our economic growth is underpinned by our ability to sell our goods and services overseas.
If we want more people to support free trade and open markets, we have also got to be more open and honest.

At the moment trade deals are negotiated in secret with not enough input from Parliament, industry, unions and civil society groups or the community.
Labor will change that.
A Shorten Labor Government will build on measures we have already announced to boost the transparency and analysis of trade agreements by:

  • strengthening the role of the Parliament by briefing the Joint Standing Committee on Treaties at the end of each round of negotiations and providing it with the Government’s Statement of Objectives for Negotiation for consideration and feedback
  • legislating to establish a system of ‘Accredited Trade Advisors’ from industry, unions and civil society groups who would provide real time feedback on draft trade agreement text during negotiations
  • providing public updates on each round of negotiations and releasing draft texts during negotiations where this is feasible
  • legislating to require an Independent National Interest Assessment to be conducted on every new trade agreement before it is signed to examine the economic, strategic and social impact of any new trade agreement.