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Tuesday, 25 November 2003
Page: 22866

Mr Kelvin Thomson asked the Minister for the Environment and Heritage, upon notice, on 7 October 2003:

(1) Does he have any involvement in the discussions or negotiations surrounding the proposed Australia-US Free Trade Agreement.

(2) Is it the case that the proposed agreement contains a dispute settlement mechanism enabling any proposed investor to take action against any Australian environmental law which restricts trade.

(3) Would such a provision diminish Australian sovereignty and, in particular, diminish Australia's capacity to protect its environment.

Dr Kemp (Minister for the Environment and Heritage) —The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows:

(1) I have been working with my Ministerial colleagues on aspects of the Australia-US Free Trade Agreement as appropriate. My Department is working closely with officials from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade on relevant elements of the proposed Australia-US Free Trade Agreement.

(2) No such mechanism has been tabled in the negotiations on the Australia-US Free Trade Agreement, although the US has foreshadowed they will be putting such a mechanism forward for negotiation shortly.

(3) If the US puts forward text then that will need to be assessed at the time.