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Tuesday, 7 December 2004
Page: 111

Senator NETTLE (8:20 PM) —This is the difficulty that these free trade agreements get into: one party believes that there has been a breach of obligations and the other one does not. That is the purpose of the disputes mechanism. For example, there is the issue of the Labor amendments on the PBS still being subject to that. We have heard statements by United States Trade Representative Bob Zoellick saying that they will be taking that issue up with the disputes mechanism—or they will monitor it and reserve their right to take it up because they think it does breach the agreement.

I acknowledge the minister's answer that this government does not believe there are any implications as a result of the announcement on generic drugs during the election campaign for our obligations under the free trade agreement. Has the government received a commitment from the United States government that they do not seek to reserve their right to follow the implementation of this election announcement and, at a subsequent time, enter into a disputes mechanism process about whether or not it infringes on Australia's obligations under the free trade agreement?