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Wednesday, 11 February 2015
Page: 487


Senator PAYNE (New South WalesMinister for Human Services) (15:43): I seek leave to make a short statement.

The PRESIDENT: Is leave granted? Is leave granted? Leave is granted for one minute. It does help me if someone gives me that indication fairly quickly.

Senator PAYNE: The Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement negotiations are at an advanced stage and only the most difficult issues remain. Australia is working hard to conclude negotiations as soon as possible; however, we will not sacrifice a comprehensive, ambitious TPP outcome in order to obtain a quick deal.

TPP countries, including Canada, Mexico and Japan, accounted for a third of Australia's total trade in 2012-13.

The 12 TPP parties have agreed to keep the negotiating documents, including the text, confidential. Pre-emptive and unilateral release of such confidential information would damage Australia's standing as a negotiating partner. Australia will be in a position to publicly release the text when all parties agree to do so, not before.

The Senate can be assured that, once the text of trade agreements is ratified between parties but before it is ratified by the Australian government, it will be made public and it will be subject to parliamentary scrutiny through the well-established review processes through the Joint Standing Committee on Treaties.

I note the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade has provided over 700 public consultations on the TPP negotiations and is open to receive further submissions. (Time expired)