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Tuesday, 10 August 2004
Page: 25984

Senator BROWN (1:39 PM) —Six major US environmental groups—the Center for International Environment Law, the Defenders of Wildlife, Earthjustice, Friends of the Earth, Sierra Club and Pacific Environment—have expressed opposition to the US-Australia free trade agreement. They have pointed out that the environment is indeed at risk. What is more, they do so from a position of experience. They point out that, for example, the investor rights provisions in the agreement before us are very similar to those that operate under the North American Free Trade Agreement, NAFTA. As I pointed out last night, their letter expressing opposition to this agreement says:

Under NAFTA, both Mexico and Canada have already lost cases involving environmental protections, and the United States faces challenges to public health and environmental standards. These cases have included challenges to policies concerning toxic gasoline additives, hazardous waste treatment, transboundary transport of hazardous waste, open-pit mining mitigation measures, and others.

Let us take the first one of those as an example. This was a challenge to Canada, which had a law preventing toxic gasoline additives that was disputed under the disputes mechanism of NAFTA by a multinational petroleum corporation—and they won. Can the minister tell us that that cannot happen under this agreement?