Briefings Trade (Australia and New Zealand) Bill Second Reading

READING TIME 15 min mins

Trade (Australia and New Zealand) Bill Second Reading

The Trade (Australia and New Zealand) Bill is the only piece of primary legislation necessary for the ratification of the UK-Australia and UK-New Zealand Free Trade Agreements (FTAs), providing for the implementation of the procurement chapters of both agreements.

Though the UK-New Zealand FTA must still be laid before Parliament, the UK-Australia Agreement was effectively given consent by Parliament on Wednesday 20th July at the conclusion of the 21-day the Constitutional Reform and Governance Act (CRaG) period, during which Parliament is theoretically given the opportunity to scrutinise FTAs. This legislation is therefore the only remaining opportunity to debate the content of the UK-Australia Agreement on the floor of the House.

In contrast, with respect to the UK-New Zealand Agreement, parliamentarians are being asked to debate legislation needed to implement an Agreement to which they haven’t yet given consent.

The UK-Australia Agreement in particular has significant implications in a number of domestic policy areas, including food, animal welfare and environmental standards, procurement, services, digital and more. However, opportunities for parliamentary scrutiny have been utterly inadequate.

Despite extensive calls from across Parliament, the Government granted no time for a debate on the content of the Australian Agreement in the House of Commons during CRaG. The Government’s behaviour was widely condemned, with MPs from all parties criticising the Government during an Urgent Question secured by Anthony Mangnall MP, and the Secretary of State being accused by the Trade Committee and others of disrespecting Parliament.

While we do not believe that the passage of a very narrow piece of implementing legislation provides an adequate opportunity to debate the UK-Australia Agreement in the round, it has now become an important moment for parliamentarians to raise concerns about the scrutiny process this FTA (and indeed future FTAs) has been subject to.

This parliamentary briefing was co-produced by the Trade Justice Movement, Global Justice Now, Friends of the Earth, Compassion in world farming, RSPCA, Fairtrade Foundation and Sustain.


UK Australia UK-Australia FTA UK-NZ FTA New Zealand trade deal Scrutiny