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Wednesday, 11 August 2004
Page: 26109

Senator BROWN (11:23 AM) —The minister has effectively demolished Mr Ken Asano from Toyota and his statement that a free trade deal between Australia and the US that cuts automotive tariffs quickly would be suicide for the local industry. I will inform the minister that I spoke to the Australian Industry Group in this parliament two days ago, and that was a very productive session. The minister has no mortgage on talking with industry groups, and that includes the captains of industry. Of course, that is part of a healthy discourse, from whichever point of view we come.

The question I had asked was: in view of the fact that corporations can take legal proceedings for compensation if their interests are infringed under the free trade agreement, why can't workers do the same? There is no mechanism here for workers. Tens of thousands of people are facing loss of jobs under the free trade agreement, and there is no mechanism for the ordinary Australian to get compensation if their interests are infringed to the advantage of the other country. That is the problem here. Having said that, let me say that we will come back to that under an amendment further down the line. I know you are anxious to move on. The minister is not here, Chair, and the quality of the presentation coming from his deputy has not been very informative. I am happy that we do indeed move on to other amendments.