The Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) is the peak body for Australian unions, made up of 46 affiliated unions. We represent more than 1.6 million working Australians and their families. The ACTU and affiliated unions have had a long and significant interest in the skilled migration program on behalf of our members and workers generally.

We appreciate the opportunity to make a submission to this Inquiry into the Export Finance and Insurance Corporation Amendment (Support for Commonwealth Entities) Bill 2016.

As the ACTU works on issues related to workers and human rights both in Australia and internationally, we have several comments to make in relation to the proposed amendments to the Export Finance and Insurance Corporation Act 1991.

The ACTU’s view on the proposed amendments aligns with our mission to protect the jobs of workers in Australia and ensure workers and other human rights are respected both here and abroad.

We note that Efic was established to provide exporters unable to secure finance or insurance services from private institutions with taxpayer funded loans and insurance to support export expansion, but on the assumption that they would do so whilst using a certain level of locally made goods and services.

We agree in principle with the idea that small and medium enterprises should be supported to access export markets. Indeed, the 2012 Productivity Commission Review of Efic criticized Efic for being biased in favour of large multinational companies and that it provided access to finance to both Australian and offshore projects, many of them large mining companies, which they could find through their own banks and shareholders.

However we cannot agree with an amendment whose purpose is to remove Efic’s requirement to lend to companies that make items that are “produced or manufactured wholly or substantially in Australia” and allow loans instead to “any transaction (including the rendering of a service) involving a benefit flowing directly or indirectly from overseas to a person carrying on business or other activities in Australia.”