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Wednesday, 17 October 2018
Page: 7516

Senator PATRICK (South Australia) (19:08): I rise to make a brief contribution to the Government Procurement (Judicial Review) Bill 2017. I note that in the Senate Finance and Public Administration Legislation Committee's report on this bill Labor made some additional comments outlining come concerns. The additional comments included:

Labor Senators are concerned that it is premature to legislate a dispute resolution arrangement to meet international obligations in the GPA prior to negotiations on the agreement being finalised. Delaying consideration of this bill would ensure Parliament has the opportunity to consider the agreement in full.

They went on to say:

The Joint Standing Committee on Government Procurement report Buying into our Future also expressed concerns that this bill should not be progressed until the GPA negotiations are finalised.

I note that Australia's accession agreement to the World Trade Organization government procurement agreement has recently been finalised but not formally accepted by WTO members. This bill is being debated and will likely pass today because of the related TPP legislation, but the provisions of this bill will also apply to the WTO accession. This means that the bill will have passed before anyone from parliament has seen Australia's commitment in the WTO procurement agreement. It is critical that the parliament be able to scrutinise Australia's accession agreement before voting on this bill, but yet again we are being let down by the Labor Party on an important issue of transparency.

In line with my comments on the two customs bills that have just passed the Senate, Centre Alliance opposes this bill primarily on the basis that it needs to be passed in order for the TPP to come into force. This is because the appeal mechanisms for procurement processes currently in place are insufficient to meet the requirements of the TPP. I have circulated amendments that delay the commencement of this bill, as well as an alternative amendment to sunset the bill, because Centre Alliance believes that the issues relating to ISDS clauses and labour market testing should be fixed before, not after. It is unlikely the Labor Party has had a change of heart overnight, but I look forward to moving these amendments during the committee stage.