(Greens-Media) FTA and Environment

Submitted by Editor on Tue, 03/08/2004 - 21:23

Key environmental reforms in Queensland such as the possible reductions of water allocations in systems like the Murray-Darling would be impossible under the Australia-US Free Trade Agreement.

Drew Hutton

August 3, 2004, 10:10:55 AM


Legal opinions obtained by some of Australia's top environmental advocacy organizations indicate that, if US corporations' interests were concerned in any such measures, then the need to extend compensation to them could make such reforms impossible.

This judgment on water is backed by the New South Wales and Victorian State Governments in their submissions to the Senate Committee, even though both these governments are in favour of the FTA.

Queensland Greens Senate candidate Drew Hutton said he believed the Beattie government would have been far less willing to introduce the phasing out of broadscale land clearing earlier this year if the FTA had been signed.

"US corporations will have the right to sue Australian governments in the courts in the event their investments are affected by environmental regulation and these corporations have shown they are not afraid to use these rights.

"This could involve millions, if not billions of dollars, in compensation should Australian laws breach FTA rules protecting the investments of US corporations.

"This is an appalling blow to our national sovereignty. Why Labor candidates like Arch Bevis in a marginal seat like Brisbane would have supported this Agreement is a puzzle to me."

Mr Hutton also criticized the lack of an environmental assessment of the FTA which makes it difficult for Australian citizens and their parliamentary representatives to make an accurate analysis of how this agreement might affect our ability to control future environmental impacts.

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