Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2004 Week 10 Hansard (24 August) . . Page.. 4009..
MS TUCKER (continuing):
were not on the table at all, but it had to back away from that when it became really obvious to everyone in Australia that they were definitely on the table.
Then, of course, we had reassurances and were told not to worry about that. Labor did at least pick up that particular concern that came out of the Senate report. It also picked up the cultural identity issues. Unfortunately, it neglected to pick up really important implications in terms of copyright, which I think is as important for our cultural identity if copyright is actually to be restricted in the way that it will be, particularly for our learning institutions. I think that the Senate report is quite disappointing in lots of way, but it is interesting reading.
Aden Ridgeway, in his dissenting report, gave a good analysis of what was missed, put aside or ignored by the Labor senators. The question of consultation has come up in both committee reports-governance questions and democracy questions-in terms of the fact that it is for debate only by national governments. Therefore, the responsibility is very heavily on the federal government to ensure that state and territory governments and arguably local councils have the opportunity to be involved early on and that any debate is informed by a social and environmental analysis. That is a really important point that our committee made and the Senate committee made as well.
Also, it is interesting that if you look at the work that has been done and the analysis that has been done on this subject by economists you will find that they do not agree that these kinds of deals are in the economic interests of Australia. There was very interesting evidence to the Senate committee on that. There is a wide divergence of views by economists on the economic benefits of these deals but, once again, the real concern is that once we are tied into them we are tied into them regardless of the social, environmental or economic implications.
Mr Smyth said that we are a bit late in some ways because of what has happened. I totally agree with that, but I think that we are making a really important statement at the territory level about these sorts of trade agreements by saying, "Yes, it affects us. Yes, we want to be involved. No, we do not think the process is good enough at this point in time and we need to be much more careful and rigorous in our analysis of the implications."
Also, of course, bilateral agreements undermine multilateral ones. So, if we have multilateral agreements that take into account these important public policy effects, there is the potential for jurisdictional issues between the multilateral ones and the bilateral ones, as there is, as came out in our report, between different bilateral agreements, such as ours with New Zealand. How does favoured treatment of the United States fit with the agreement with New Zealand? It is all quite sloppy in its workings in lots of ways, which came out through the committee's work as well.
I thank members of the committee for their contribution to this report and the secretary of the committee. In particular, I thank Brendan Smyth for his work as chair of this committee. I have worked with him as chair of this committee for the last three years and on the health committee and I think that he approaches the job with an open mind and is prepared to work in committees with the evidence. I really respect that and appreciate it because I know that it means that he will not necessarily come out with a point of view that the party he represents wants and that he is respectful of the committee process.