A massive trade deal has passed parliament’s lower house but Labor is under increasing internal pressure to abandon support for it in the Senate.
Laws enabling the Trans-Pacific Partnership to be ratified passed the House of Representatives with Labor’s backing on Monday, and are expected to go to the Senate next month.
But after a long debate in Labor caucus last week, MPs opposed to the deal again tried to force the party to reverse course.
Labor MPs moved motions in caucus trying to abandon support for the TPP, but both were defeated on Tuesday morning.
Unions are worried about the effect of the 11-country deal on labour market testing, and the ability for foreign companies to sue the Australian government.
Former trade minister Steve Ciobo says the deal gives Australian exporters easier access to 500 million consumers and will boost national income by $15.6 billion by 2030.
“We want it to grow in membership … it’s important partners reap benefits of the deal as soon as possible,” he told parliament on Monday.
As well as agricultural products such as beef, sugar and grain, the deal covers “free flow of data across borders”, he added, citing online reservations and telecommunications data management.
Mr Ciobo said the investor-state dispute settlement provisions protect Australian businesses overseas, denying it would see foreign companies sue the government.
Labor is pointing to the example of New Zealand, which managed to negotiate out of some of the intellectual property provisions in the TPP, as an option for future Shorten government.
But the Greens warn that won’t be possible because the Kiwis got it done during the negotiations, not once it was signed.
They want Labor to instead reject the TPP in the Senate.
The TPP-11 trade pact is between Australia, Japan, Malaysia, Vietnam, Singapore, Brunei, New Zealand, Canada, Mexico, Peru and Chile, with the US pulling out of the deal when Donald Trump became president.
Mexico, Singapore and Japan have ratified the deal, with New Zealand, Peru and Canada expected to join the list in coming months.
© AAP 2018