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Wednesday, 11 August 2004
Page: 26106

Senator BROWN (11:12 AM) —I note that Mr Ken Asano, the Chief Executive of Toyota Australia, was quoted in the AgeinDecember last year as saying:

“A free-trade deal between Australia and the US that cut automotive tariffs quickly would be `suicide' for the local industry.”

There are somewhere between 11,000 and 22,000 jobs at stake for Mitsubishi in South Australia, and we have got a Russian roulette of figures here which the government puts up and asserts are the right ones but has had drawn up for its benefit. There are equally compelling assessments of the impact on jobs which say that an even greater number will be lost by our smaller economy trying to compete in manufacturing with the much bigger American economy. What I want to ask the minister now is: what are the protective mechanisms in the free trade agreement for jobs in Australia and what are the compensation mechanisms for people whose jobs are lost as a result of the impact of the free trade agreement?

The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN (Senator Cherry)—Senator Brown, is that relevant to this amendment?

Senator Brown —Yes.

The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN —I have looked at this amendment. This is really about arbitration—

Senator Brown —That is right.

The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN —and what you are talking about is economic effects. There are a lot of amendments here, and I am just wondering about this. If you think it is relevant we will continue but I wonder if this is the best place to debate it.

Senator Brown —Would you prefer it debated under a different amendment, Chair?

The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN —That is up to you.

Senator Brown —No; I am just seeking your guidance on the matter. If there is a ruling from the chair that this debate is out of order—

The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN —I am not suggesting that. What I am doing is drawing your attention to the standing orders on relevance and I am just noting the large number of amendments which are before the chair and the need for the debate to move on. But if you want to debate it now as you think it is relevant then that is your call at this stage.

Senator Brown —I do, thank you.