Given the escalating events taking place in Hong Kong at the moment, the ACTU called on the government to wait until the situation is satisfactorily resolved and the issues raised in the submission were addressed before proceeding with any further consideration of the enabling legislation of the Aus-HK FTA.

The issues raised in the submission included handing power to large multinationals through ISDS provisions, the circumvention of Australia’s high standards of occupational accreditation and undermining the ability of the Government to regulate in the public interest.

Key highlights:

  • The ACTU does not support trade agreements that lock member countries into investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) provisions. These provisions mean that when Australian governments make new laws or policy in the interests of Australian people, foreign investors can sue our government in international tribunals if they consider those laws harm their investment or disadvantage them in some way.
  • Certain provisions in this trade agreement will place undue pressure on the immigration department to seek ways to circumvent Australia’s high standards of occupational accreditation. This will create enormous risk to workers lives, community safety and consumer protection trade agreements are facilitating unlicensed, unqualified workers being granted visas and performing high risk work contrary to Australian law
  • Trade agreements should not undermine the ability of Governments to regulate in the public interest, particularly for essential services like health, education, social services, water and energy. Yet, the provisions in chapter seven of the Free Trade Agreement between Australia and Hong Kong, China (A-HKFTA) which govern cross-border trade in services could limit regulation across a broad range of service industries