[Documents menu] Documents menu

Message-Id: <>
Date: Mon, 09 Mar 1998 17:28:31 +1000
To: mai-not@flora.org
From: Global Web Builders <gwb@gwb.com.au>
Subject: Pauline Hanson's speech on MAI in the Australian parliament
Sender: owner-mai-not-mail@flora.org
Precedence: bulk

Speech by Pauline Hanson MP to the Australian Parliament - Grievances debate

9 March 1998

Following my briefing from the Treasury on the MAI last week I read the latest draft of the MAI document which is now available on the Australian Government treasury Internet site.

Having read this latest document, my original concerns regarding the effect of MAI on the people of Australia have been reinforced and remain as strong as ever.

First I must state that as it is not possible to download the text of the agreement from the treasury internet site on a computer disk, it is very difficult and expensive to distribute the text of the treaty.

Distributing the document is essential if the Australian people are to know what the government is negotiating, and what that will mean for us all.

Also, the decision to examine the MAI through the Joint Standing Committee on treaties, is but part of the cover up, and will not result in the concerns of ordinary Australians even getting a hearing, let alone being taken into account.

15 of the 16 members of the Joint Committee will be appointed by the Government or the Opposition, and we all know the Labor Party started the negotiations on the MAI in May 1995. Both the Coalition and the Labor Party have demonstrated their commitment to sign this treaty.

Despite requests, I could not obtain a list of any Australian government exemptions to the treaty from the Treasury or any detailed information from the Parliamentary library.

My having to rely on the internet for information on the MAI caused me to make contact with representatives of the Canadian Parliament for help.

These contacts, made in desperation, have been by fax, e-mail, and phone, and began late last year.

It is scandalous that a Member of the Federal Parliament has to go to such lengths. My accusation of secrecy remains, and I put to the Australian people the simple question - If the MAI is good, why is the government even now still keeping all the important parts secret?

This is not an issue of national security, so why is there so much secrecy? What is it that the government doesn't want the Australian people to know?

I will detail some of my specific concerns with the treaty.

Equal treatment for multinationals.

It may sound warm and fuzzy but the point will make it illegal for Australian levels of government to favour a local company over a foreign company.

There are many good reasons why we should be able to discriminate in favour of Australian companies.

For example, it will even be illegal for a local council to favour a local business over a foreign company for council work or for deals to be negotiated with the understanding money will stay in the community.

Instead of the money and employment going into the local area, the work could be performed by foreign labour, and the profits repatriated overseas, most likely untaxed.

The subject of multinationals importing labour may seem unlikely but just listen to this paragraph from page 16 of the draft MAI -

No contracting party may deny entry and stay as provided for by this article, or authorisation to work as provided by paragraph 1 (a) of this article, for reasons relating to labour market or other economic needs tests or numeric restrictions in national laws, regulations and procedures.

The treaty allows multinationals to bring in their own employees and their families, and we will have to give their spouses a work permit.

Will these foreigners also get access to Medicare and other social security benefits?

We have enough unemployment without multinationals bringing in foreign workers. But as the Demtel man says, But wait, there's more.

Under the MAI, no one, not even the Federal Government, can attach conditions to foreigners who seek to establish themselves in Australia.

For example, we will not be able to make a multinational use any Australian made components or domestic content. We will not be able to make a multinational establish a joint venture with an Australian company. We will not even be able to insist multinationals even employ any Australian people at all.

Within three years of signing this treaty, we will have to enter into negotiations to rollback and remove any current Australian laws that the Multinationals don't like.

Any exemptions the Government proposes will likely be worthless in the future, as we will be forced to repeal them.

The question of whether taxation constitutes a form of expression is not all that clear, and as it stands the Australian Taxation Office has already told us multinationals pay little or no tax now.

If, in its current form, this agreement is signed, we may never be able to correct the pathetic situation of multinationals paying virtually no tax.

All levels of government in Australia are liable to be sued in the event of an infringement of multinational rights. Under the MAI, it is compulsory for the government to enter into binding arbitration, which will leave us, the Australian taxpayers liable for damages and horrific fees.

Under the 'protection from strife' clause, the Australian people are also liable for any loss of profits resulting from a state of emergency. Just what exactly will that mean?

As if this isn't enough punishment for the innocent victims currently known as the Australian people, will not be able to signal our wish to get out of the MAI for 5 years. After that the treaty still will continue in effect for another 15 years.

The Australian people must be made aware we will be bound by this draconian agreement for at least 20 years.

Australia is currently very good to foreign investors, and many, including me, would argue in fact we are too good, and give too much away. We have many resources, we have a well educated workforce, and we have a fairly good infrastructure.

Multinationals get the benefits of our natural resources, infrastructure, stable society, and educated population without contributing. More and more Australians are becoming aware of these facts, and they are getting angry and are tired of being used.

It is time to make multinationals and foreigners pay their share of tax.

It must be acknowledged that while some foreign investment may be good, foreign control is not.

It must also be understood, the majority of foreign investment buys up existing profitable Australian companies and downsizes the workforce - much of what the government says about the benefits of foreign investment is simply a lie.

Australia has relied far too heavily on foreign capital in the past, and we are now paying the price of high unemployment, a failing society, and less ability to control our destiny.

I maintain the MAI is being largely negotiated in secret because it is not in the best interests of Australians, and will only benefit the multinationals in their push for a single world economy.

In its current form, the MAI will hand over vast powers to multinational companies who will plunder our country on their terms, and then bill us for their time.

Rather than relying forever on foreign capital, only worsening the situation, One Nation policies will reindustrialise Australia and embark on programs of self sufficiency. We will create jobs in diverse industries and lift our living standards.

In short, One Nation will arrest the social decay that it would seem is almost a government sponsored plan.

The day of the ballot box is coming.