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Greens call on Shorten to back Pacific development for people before Australian companies

Greens overseas aid and development spokesperson Lee Rhiannon has called on opposition leader Bill Shorten to use his Pacific trip to commit a future Labor government to scrapping the PACER-Plus agreement as it does not meet social and environmental standards for regional development.

"Mr Shorten can practice what Labor preaches on this visit by refusing to support weak regional agreements that promotes development detrimental to local communities," Senator Rhiannon said.

"Surely on his Pacific visit Mr Shorten should put the interests of local Pacific communities before the PACER Plus profit making plans for Australian companies.

"Draft chapters of PACER-Plus leaked in September reveal Australia has made incredibly weak voluntary aid commitments while demanding increased market access for Australian companies.

"Mr Shorten needs to end the colonialist attitude Australian foreign policy towards the Pacific has been based on.

"The Liberal-National government has failed to carry out proper social and environmental impact assessments as part of the Pacer Plus negotiations.

"Numerous civil rights groups and individuals in the Pacific region have expressed deep concern that PACER Plus will make the lives of local people much harder due to the environmental, economic and human rights impacts of the agreement.

"If Labor want to signal genuine commitment to assisting the Pacific nations it will hear these concerns, and urge the federal government to withdraw from negotiations until proper assessments have taken place.

"The Labor Party's national platform states a commitment to trade policies consistent with community views and the interests of developing countries," Senator Rhiannon said. 

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