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Wednesday, 11 August 2004
Page: 26119


Senator NETTLE (12:10 PM) —The Australian Greens will be supporting these amendments that seek to bring the free trade agreement under the oversight of the Australian parliament rather than put it into the hands of appointed individuals from this government and the government of the United States. The mechanism that is being proposed is a review after one year of the trade agreement coming into play. It is interesting to note that of the 42 recommendations put forward by the Labor senators on the Senate select committee on this trade agreement, 26 were reviews. They were reviews to look at the impact of the Australia-US free trade agreement once it had come into play, as is being proposed by Senator Ridgeway.

The Greens support review mechanisms that look at the impact of this trade agreement because we can see that five or 10 years down the track the information may come to light which will prove the negative impacts of the trade agreement—as has occurred in relation to other trade agreements with the United States. The greatest safeguard that we can put in place to ensure that one, five or 10 years down the track we will not be looking at reviews which tell us about the job losses that have resulted from this trade agreement, the increases in drug prices as a result of the undermining of our Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme or the lost job opportunities for people in the cultural industries, would be not to proceed with the free trade agreement. We support these reviews because it is important that we look at these issues, but the very greatest safeguard that we could put in place would be to not go ahead with this preferential trade agreement that has so many disadvantages for a range of different sectors across the board.