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Thursday, 16 December 1993
Page: 4832

Senator MARGETTS —My question is directed to the Minister for Foreign Affairs. Of what benefit would any of these spurious benefits of the Uruguay Round of GATT be to the world if we destroy the world's ecosystem in the process, that is, if the growth imperative created by trade deregulation brings the living planet to the point of extinction?

Senator GARETH EVANS —I think it is a world first to suggest that the GATT round is going to contribute to bringing the world to a speedier extinction than might otherwise be the case, just as I think it was also a world first for the Greens to suggest that we and other countries ought to engage in an environmental impact statement on the effect of the GATT round before accepting it. With something like 10,000 or more different goods and services in issue across 116 countries over a number of years, it would have been a rather fascinating environmental impact exercise to set in train.

  The biggest problems confronting the world these days—certainly the developed world—are those of sustaining economic growth and generating jobs and incomes, and the social security that is associated with that. There is no way that that will be anything other than enormously encouraged, for all the reasons I mentioned before, by a successful outcome of the Uruguay Round.

  Equally, so far as the developing world is concerned, the overwhelming necessity is for economic growth in order to enable a greater income to be generated and in order to enable, over time, greater equity in the distribution of that income. Of course it is necessary that growth, whether it is in the developed or the developing world, be accompanied by environmental sensitivity. I think the world as a whole has become a lot more sensitive to these issues over the last decade than was the case previously. That is wholly to be welcomed. But to believe the notion that this objective is somehow inconsistent with the objective of greater trade and greater economic growth associated with that trade is, I think, to fundamentally misconceive the nature of the processes that are at work here.

Senator MARGETTS —Mr President, I ask a supplementary question. The question has not been answered so I will ask it again, perhaps in more simple language. There is ample evidence that in developing countries trade deregulation and financial deregulation has led to a greater requirement to produce cash crops in recent years. In Australia, our standards will be lowered by the Codex Alimentaire. I repeat: of what use is increased growth and money if we destroy the world's environment in the process?

Senator GARETH EVANS —I repeat: if there were any necessary connection between the two, if more economic growth meant more environmental destruction ipso facto, then there would be a legitimate policy concern. But it is simply not the case that there is that kind of causal relationship. There does not have to be, and there is not.