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The Government Should Be Celebrating The Demise Of The TPP

For jobs and growth, there are many other policies that Trump the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

24/01/2017 3:58 PM AEDT | Updated 24/01/2017 3:58 PM AEDT
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"Despite all the negative impacts the TPP was going to have ... the Australian Government has been practically begging at the feet of Donald Trump and asking him not to tear up this terrible deal."

Any government that genuinely wanted to generate 'jobs and growth' would be out today celebrating the demise of the disastrous Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement.

The TPP was a Trojan horse and allowing it through the gate would have had a raft of negative consequences for the Australian people, while having almost zero effect on our economy over the long term. It would have given international corporations the ability to sue future governments while also removing the need to check whether Australians were available to take jobs before giving them to migrant workers from many of the deal's signatory countries.

Paradoxically, despite all the negative impacts the TPP was going to have, as its termination drew closer and closer over the past few days the Australian Government has been practically begging at the feet of Donald Trump and asking him not to tear up this terrible deal. Unsurprisingly, the newly-minted US President wasn't listening and has finally withdrawn America from the trade pact, causing it to instantly collapse.

Given the Coalition's obsession with the TPP, many Australians would be forgiven for thinking that it was going to have a significant effect on our country's economy. The only problem is that the government's own economic advisors thought its economic benefit would be marginal, at best.

Compared to boosting women's participation in the labour market through better child care and maternity policies, the TPP is little more than a rounding error.

When evaluating regional trade agreements, such as the TPP, the Productivity Commission said that it 'received little evidence from business to indicate that bilateral agreements to date have provided substantial commercial benefits' and went on to state that, while regional trade agreements can reduce trade barriers and help meet other objectives, 'their potential impact is limited and other options often may be more cost-effective.'

According to The World Bank, The TPP would have increase Australia's GDP by a paltry 0.7 percent between now and 2030. That's not 0.7 percent per year, mind you, but 0.7 percent over 13 years.

Fortunately, it's not all doom and gloom. There are other things the government can do that would actually grow the economy while getting more people into gainful employment and paid work. One option available to them would be to help young mothers back into the workforce with a world class, properly funded childcare system.

Both the Productivity Commission and the Grattan Institute have said that encouraging an extra six percent of women into the labour market, which would bring our female workforce participation up to the levels currently enjoyed by Canada, would increase Australia's GDP by a staggering $25 billion a year.

Compared to boosting women's participation in the labour market through better child care and maternity policies, the TPP is little more than a rounding error.

There are other things the government can do that would actually grow the economy while getting more people into gainful employment and paid work.

At the heart of all government decisions lies a revealing glimpse of its priorities. By pursuing the TPP while stalling on genuine reform of the childcare sector, the Turnbull administration have shown that they are really only interested in helping major corporations achieve their goals while ignoring the needs of regular Australians.

Alternatively, by ripping up the TPP, Donald Trump has given the Australian Government an opportunity to reassess its priorities. I hope Malcolm Turnbull will seize this opportunity and get on with the real work of government; representing the Australian people, not just the major corporations that design our global trade deals.

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Senator Sarah Hanson-Young is the Australian Greens' spokesperson on Finance and Trade

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