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Labor’s FTA recommendations are old news.



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3 August 2004

Labor’s FTA recommendations are old news

Labor has been waiting on the Senate Committee for six months and the best they could come up with is a recommendation which the Joint Standing Committee on Treaties (JSCOT) had already suggested.

Five weeks ago the JSCOT tabled its report into the US FTA.

On the issue of generic drugs, the JSCOT found that there should be no delay in generic drugs reaching the market as the ‘situation in Australia will be different due to our different legal and regulatory environment’ (page 249).

But on local content rules, it has clearly copied the JSCOT lead.

Recommendation 12 on page 174 of the JSCOT report reads:

“The Committee recommends that the Government take immediate action to incorporate the current quota levels for local content under the Broadcasting Services Act 1992 which are subject to the ‘ratchet’ provisions of the Treaty as schedules under the Act so that they can only be changed by a deliberative decision of the Parliament.”

Today, 5 weeks later, in a joint statement Mark Latham and Stephen Conroy said Labor will fight for an amendment ‘to legislate the current local content standards’ for free to air television, pay television and radio.

We didn’t need a second committee to tell us this. This demonstrates the JSCOT process worked and the Senate Committee was a nothing more than a device to paper over the cracks in Labor on the FTA.

Labor dawdled on a decision on the FTA for months and in the end the best they could come up with was old news.

Andrew Southcott is available on 0419 866 699

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