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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 7 Hansard (20 June) . . Page.. 2217..


General Agreement on Trade in Services

MS TUCKER (7.30): I move:

That noting that the expansion of the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) currently under negotiation has the potential to impact directly on the powers and responsibilities of State and Territory legislatures, and on local communities, the Assembly calls on the:

(1) ACT Government to table in the Assembly all papers produced that detail the development of the ACT Government position on the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and/or GATS;

(2) Chief Minister to ensure there is an independent and thorough assessment of the known and anticipated impacts of the expansion of GATS on democratic processes, including on ACT laws, powers of the ACT legislature and ACT Government service provision, and to report on this assessment to Assembly Members;

(3) ACT Government to consult fully with the ACT community in finalising the ACT Government position on the GATS and to seek the endorsement of the Legislative Assembly for that position in the first sitting week of August;

(4) ACT Government to ask the Federal Government to conduct an inquiry into the regulatory and constitutional effects arising out of the internationalisation of policy making through the GATS and other agreements of the WTO, that this inquiry ensure as wide a constituency as possible is involved and that the results of such an inquiry are publicly available.

Mr Speaker, this motion calls on the government to table documents which detail the development of its position on the WTO and/or GATS. Secondly, it requires the government to ensure that there is an independent and thorough assessment of the potential impacts on governance. Thirdly, it calls on the government to consult with the wider community on the matter. Lastly, it asks our government to request the federal government to ensure that an independent assessment is done of the impacts of the internationalisation of policy making through GATS and the World Trade Organisation, particularly the impact on the ability of state and territory governments to create policy and regulation which protect the environment, citizens' health and public interest standards.

Until recently, the management of national and global financial systems has proceeded with very little interference or comment from anyone other than those closely involved. Politicians made announcements after agreements were signed. The media may have covered the story briefly, probably as a business item, but not much notice was taken. It had little meaning for the average citizen. Now, however, communities are increasingly expressing concern about the impact of these agreements. They are doing so because they now understand that trade agreements have an impact on everyone. They know that it is primarily the corporate agenda that informs trade agreements and that this has shown itself to be a flawed approach.

Consideration of the environment, social equity, economic justice, cultural identity and democracy has been seriously inadequate. A strong civil society movement has emerged and, to an extent, its growing strength can be attributed to the fact that citizens are feeling powerless to change what is occurring. A growing number of people in our community are becoming ill at ease with the subtle shifts in how the concept of citizenry


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