Senate Submission - China-Australia Free Trade Agreement

ChAFTA is the worst trade agreement that an Australian government has ever signed and attempted to impose on the Australian public.

With full regard to the evidence outlined in this submission the Senate Committee should conclude that:

  • ChAFTA is a bad deal for workers, a bad deal for communities and a bad deal for Australia.
  • China is clearly one of the most important countries in regards to Australia’s economic and broader national interest, if not the most important, which why ChAFTA is such a missed opportunity.
  • After ten years of negotiations, the Australian people were entitled to expect an agreement far superior than ChAFTA.
  • The Australian Government has been clearly out negotiated - resulting in key problems with ChAFTA.
  • A major area of concern with ChAFTA is that it dramatically changes the labour and industrial relations landscape in Australia by including unprecedented elements compared to all of Australia’s previous Free Trade Agreements regarding labour mobility provisions.
  • Given the extraordinary concessions that have been made to China in the ChAFTA, including but not exclusively regarding the above (for example see the submission by Australian Fair Trade and Investment Network {AFTINET} regarding Investor State Dispute Settlement {ISDS} mechanisms), the Australian people might have expected extraordinary opportunities for Australian industry in return in terms of access to Chinese markets.
  • An objective analysis of the ChAFTA, would suggest though that this is simply not the case, meaning the agreement is grossly unfair and unbalanced.
  • In addition, ChAFTA, in exchange for tariff removal, does not even attempt to provide a more level ‘playing field’ for Australian domestic industry competing against imports from China through:
    • A labour chapter
    • An environment chapter
    • A mechanism for dealing with the flow of substandard imported products from China.
  • The Government instead of being honest with the Australian people by outlining the true costs and benefits of ChAFTA is overstating the benefits and understating the costs.
  • The CFMEU is involved in a community campaign to highlight the true costs and negligible benefits (by comparison to the costs) of ChAFTA.
  • The Government has been deceptive when responding to facts that expose their misleading representations of ChAFTA.

The Senate Committee has an obligation to look objectively at the submissions and evidence presented to this inquiry. If it does so and acts in the public interest instead of a partisan political interest, all members of the Senate Committee will only conclude that the ChAFTA has problems so serious that the only option in the national interest is renegotiation of key elements and/ the establishing of strong additional erection of legislative safeguards.

China is Australia’s largest trading partner and one of its most significant sources of foreign investment so the fact that ChAFTA has been so poorly negotiated is nothing short of a disaster. The Senate Committee should recommend ChAFTA’s renegotiation.

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