The ACTU welcomes the opportunity to make a submission to the Joint Standing Committee on Treaties inquiry into ‘Certain Aspects of the Treaty-making Process in Australia’.

The ACTU is the peak body for Australian unions. The ACTU and affiliated unions have had a long and significant interest in the trade agenda on behalf of our members and workers generally.

We should expect that trade agreements are subject to proper scrutiny and that unions and others in civil society, as well as business, have the opportunity for genuine input into the negotiations on behalf of those they represent. To date trade agreement negotiations are conducted behind closed doors and Australia lags behind other countries and institutions when it comes to public scrutiny. This whole process in Australia contrasts with the experience in the European Union, for example. The EU has recognised legitimate community demand for the negotiating papers and final text to be exposed to public debate.