Labor MPs express TPP fears
Opposition leader Bill Shorten insists Labor MPs who want the party to abandon support for a massive trade deal are having a fair dinkum debate about tough issues — not being disunited.
Minutes of last week’s Labor caucus meeting leaked to the media revealed a dozen or so Labor MPs spoke against supporting the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
Some said the deal would send voters to One Nation in Queensland and western Sydney, while others argued it would hurt workers and was against Labor policy.
‘‘What we should never do in Australia is confuse debate and disagreement with disunity,’’ Mr Shorten said last Wednesday.
‘‘Right through my caucus there is concern that this agreement has plenty of problems with it.’’
But Mr Shorten said he ‘‘reluctantly’’ supported the TPP and intended to improve it when he gets into government.
He said the deal benefited Australian farmers, universities, steel and manufacturing industries.
Labor supported the TPP through the lower house but is under pressure from unions and the Greens to block it in the Senate.
A Senate inquiry looking at the TPP recommended the government remove investor-state dispute settlement provisions from it and all future trade deals.
Labor MPs said ISDS laws allowed foreign companies to sue the Australian Government. The committee also wants labour market testing included in the deal.
The TPP-11 trade pact involves Australia, Japan, Malaysia, Vietnam, Singapore, Brunei, New Zealand, Canada, Mexico, Peru and Chile, with the United States pulling out of the deal when Donald Trump became president.
Mexico, Singapore and Japan have ratified the deal, with New Zealand, Peru and Canada expected to join the list in coming months.