The Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) is appearing before the Joint Standing Committee on Treaties (JSCOT) today (17/10/2016) to provide economic evidence that the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) will destroy 39,000 Australian jobs.

Empirical evidence from the 2016 Global Development and Environment Institute Tuffs University paper estimates the TPP would directly result in 39,000 job losses over 10 years to 2025. The evidence also predicts higher inequality due to job losses and lowering of wages.

Also of grave concern to local jobs is that in the TPP’s labour mobility section, the contractual service suppliers includes all 651 occupations under the 457 Visa system

The ACTU has long been a vocal opponent of the TPP because of the exaggerated benefits it would provide and will continue to offer a common sense argument on behalf of Australian working people that the Government back away from the trade deal.

Quotes attributable to ACTU President Ged Kearney:

“The Turnbull Government must follow in the US Government’s lead and back away from TPP now before it causes irreparable damage to the Australian economy and working people’s lives.”

“The gross overstatements about the economic benefits of free trade agreements are happening again in relation the TPP.”

“It is clear that even from the World Bank study the economic benefits for Australia are very modest — the World Bank model predicts economic growth of less than 1% from the TPP (a 0.7% increase in GDP to 2030).”

“The Investor State Dispute Settlement Clause (ISDS) clause of the TPP is a direct assault on our democracy as it would give foreign companies the green light to sue Australian governments if they if they don’t like laws that have passed because it has the potential to threaten their profits. They are able to do this in secret tribunals that bypass our courts.”

Labour mobility and Labour Market Testing

  • The Australian Government has yet again entered into a free trade agreement where it has removed the obligation on employers to conduct labour market testing before temporary overseas workers fill Australian jobs. If that is the case, Australian and overseas companies will be able to employ unlimited numbers of workers from TPP member countries in hundreds of occupations across nursing, engineering and the trades without any obligation to provide evidence of genuine efforts to first recruit Australian workers. In doing so, Australia has agreed to the worst deal of any TPP country in terms of what it has given up in relation to migration safeguards. Unions cannot support an agreement that removes this basic protection in support of Australian jobs.
  •  Australia has made commitments to grant temporary entry extend beyond business visitors and high level independent executives and include the category of contractual service suppliers. This category is defined expansively to include all business persons with trade, technical and professional skills. Essentially, this commitment appears to cover temporary entry for all skilled occupations under the 457 visa program.

Increased prices of medicines at the chemist

  • Pharmaceutical companies already have 20 years of patents for monopoly higher prices on new medicines before cheaper versions become available. The TPP will provide stronger monopoly rights for the costly biologic medicines used to treat cancer and other serious diseases. Doctors without Borders (MSF) says the TPP will delay access to lower-priced medicines for millions of people, especially in developing countries. Australian law on biologic monopolies will not change immediately, but the text requires “other measures” which would “deliver a comparable market outcome,” and requires a future review which could result in up to three extra years of monopoly. Each year of delay in the availability of cheaper biologic medicines would cost the Australian government hundreds of millions of dollars, creating pressure for higher prices at the chemist.