The Senate today has forced the Abbott Government to consult with industry and unions on the anti-dumping system to save Australian industry and jobs.
Labor amendments moved in the Senate have successfully stopped the Government from abolishing the International Trade Remedies Forum.
The Forum is a Labor initiative, introduced as part of a package of reforms to improve and streamline Australia’s anti-dumping system, with membership drawn from industry, manufacturers, peak bodies and the unions.
Companies and unions provide governments with real-time market intelligence. Such industry consultation is critical to the proper functioning of Australia’s anti-dumping regime.
Labor created the Forum to provide ongoing strategic advice to government on Australia’s anti-dumping system. For this reason, it was enshrined in legislation to ensure that this valuable dialogue continues into the future.
Members of the International Trade Remedies Forum are not remunerated for their services. They volunteer their time and expertise for the betterment of Australian industry and in the interests of fair trade for our domestic producers.
Legislation introduced by the Abbott Government in February 2015 sought to abolish the Forum, demonstrating once again that this is a Government that has no interest in independent expert advice.
The Government’s legislation was referred to a Senate Committee for inquiry and report by 11 May 2015. Labor Senators on the Committee unequivocally opposed the abolition of the International Trade Remedies Forum in their dissenting report and called on the Government to support Labor amendments to retain this critical advisory group.
These calls have been acknowledged during debate on the legislation in the Senate today, with the Government back-flipping on its previous position and supporting Labor’s amendment to retain the Forum.
This is an important first step. The Abbott Government and the Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane must now call an urgent meeting of the International Trade Remedies Forum – as it is required to do by law – to address concerns raised by industry, manufacturers and unions on the ongoing operations of Australia’s anti-dumping system.
One can only hope the Industry Minister will continue to heed Labor’s advice when it comes to Australian jobs and Australian industry.