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Tuesday, 10 August 2004
Page: 26048

Senator BROWN (6:19 PM) —I want to recap: the minister has said no, that this Greens' amendment to protect the environment, social welfare and health and safety does not add anything to the agreement so we will not put it in. It does cover a multitude of avenues by which those matters in Australia can either be undermined in the agreement or be made compensatable. To put it round the other way: taxpayers in Australia will be paying if there is a claim on the basis of the free trade agreement against Australian laws which foster health or safety or the environment and which are found to be in some way or other unfair to the interests of the free trading concept. I would have thought that if there were no concerns about the Greens' amendment the government would support it, in the same way that it said it would support the Labor amendments provided they did not infringe on the free trade agreement and that they added something, or were at least neutral. The opportunity is here to ask the Labor Party whether it sees any problems with this amendment by the Greens, which brings into law the guarantee that matters such as public health, public safety and the environment will not be subject to compensation for America or for American companies.

The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN —I put the question that the amendment moved by Senator Nettle—