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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 7 Hansard (20 June) . . Page.. 2227 ..

MR SPEAKER: I trust that she is, but I think it would be courteous to listen.

MR BERRY: That is okay. I think you should leave Ms Tucker alone, Mr Speaker. He is picking on you.

Ms Tucker: Why?

MR SPEAKER: I shall pick on anybody who leaves while they have a motion before the house. Please continue, Mr Berry.

Mr Wood: Under which standing order is that?

MR BERRY: It is a new one. It is the prerogative of the Speaker at work early in the evening.

I have worked with officials of the Clinton administration-only briefly, I admit-from the embassy in the ACT. We ran a seminar here in relation to fair trade. An official from the embassy was here and we had a good turn-up and a fair discussion about the issue. We need to make sure that trade is about employment growth, improving social protections, discontinuing the exploitation of poor labour standards, which I mentioned a little while ago, implementing sustainable environmental standards, the elimination of forced labour, child labour and so on, and adherence to human rights and democratic values. I think we have to put the community and the civil society at the centre of the economy. There must be values that guide and underpin the trading system so that it provides the mechanisms, incentives and opportunity for all nations to engage in what has been described as a race to the top rather than a race to the bottom.

Some people who worship free trade decry anybody who suggests that there ought to be fair trade and try to hang on them the label of being a Hansonite or something akin. If I can adopt a bit of a label-hanging attitude myself, I will call them, for the purposes of the argument, the free trade absolutists. There is a strong group of people who are so protective of free trade and have so much of themselves and earlier decisions invested in it that they react very badly to any challenge to the free trade dogma. I think that it has to be challenged. I do not expect that this Assembly is going to be at the centre of change in the WTO or GATS, or that we are going to be able to claim massive success with changes to world trade arrangements, but we have an obligation as a legislature to adopt motions like this to push us in that direction.

We have seen a marked change in the American administration, with President Bush now in the chair. We have seen him undoing many of the Clinton initiatives, especially in the environmental field. With the change in the administration, all of the government officials, secretaries, diplomats and staff will be changed all round the world, so the Bush agenda will be the agenda which is pursued round the world. That, to me, is quite disturbing. We have heard about the undoing of some environmental issues involving Alaska, I think it was, because of the Bush agenda. It is rather sad that the Democrats are not in power in the US. Whilst they might have been small by some people's standards, some of the issues were taken up by the Clinton administration in a more progressive way round the world.

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