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RALLY IN MELBOURNE: Trade Justice for Pacific Island Nations

Oct 1, 2015 | uncategorised

WHEN: 12:00 noon, Wednesday 7th October
WHERE: Outside the Hotel Grand Chancellor 131 Lonsdale St, Melbourne

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Australia, New Zealand and Pacific Island Countries are currently negotiating a regional free trade agreement: PACER Plus.

The PACER Plus is another in a line of secret trade agreements that push a trade liberalisation agenda and promote the rights of corporations over people.

Australian Unions have come together against CHAFTA and the TPP to call for trade deals that are balanced, support jobs, protect the rights of working people and promote a healthy environment.

The PACER+ agreement will disproportionately affect Pacific Island nations. It will:

  • Give unprecedented rights to corporations Pacific governments will face restrictions on their regulation of foreign businesses. They will not be able to regulate to keep prices low, or ensure that services are available to everyone in the community.
  • Undermine access to essential services PACER+ will require Pacific countries to ‘list’ service sectors (including health, education, and water), allowing Australian and NZ companies to compete to provide these services in the Pacific. This will undermine access to services (especially for vulnerable people, like the unemployed or the rural poor).
  • Lead to a loss in public services like health and education PACER+ is calling on Pacific nations to drop tariffs on imported goods. This will result in a significant loss of government revenue – up to 19% in Tonga, 18% in Vanuatu, and 12% in Samoa. This loss in revenue is more than their total health or education budgets.
  • Lead to business closures and job losses Remoteness, small economies of scale and lack of human resources make it difficult for Pacific businesses to engage in global markets. Opening Pacific markets up to Australian and New Zealand corporations may wipe out Pacific businesses due difficulties in competing with their cheaper prices.
  • Undermine indigenous rights to land Land is central to indigenous people’s spiritual and economic life. The removal of restrictions on ownership of land by foreign companies and investors will impact on Pacific communities’ ability to determine their own economic future.

Australian Unions have a history of standing in solidarity with our Pacific unions and communities. It is time to stand with them again and call for an agreement that ensures rights for workers, protection of the environment and culture, and respect for human rights. The next round of negotiations will be held in Melbourne on the 7th – 9th October 2015.

Union Aid Abroad – APHEDA, AFTINET, the Pacific Network for Globalisation (PANG), the ACTU are holding a rally to coincide with the negotiations. We are calling for:

  • The immediate suspension of the PACER-Plus negotiations until there has been informed, comprehensive dialogue with civil society to ascertain whether there is a popular mandate for such negotiations;
  • The immediate release of all negotiating texts to allow full, comprehensive and informed input from civil society;
  • Following the release of the texts a properly funded social, cultural, environmental and human rights impact assessment be undertaken to determine the impacts of any proposed outcome.
  • Respect for the rights of Pacific workers and ensuring that Pacific communities can determine their own economic future.

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