5 Aug 2009

NGO says Australia desperate in claim PACER-PLUS not linked to PACER

1:40 pm on 5 August 2009

The Pacific Network on Globalisation, or PANG, has accused the Australian Government of deceit as it promotes a proposed new trade deal.

Negotiations on PACER - PLUS may get the green light at this week's Pacific Islands Forum summit in Cairns, but there is anger that Fiji could be excluded from the discussions.

The Australian Trade Minister Simon Crean says the negotiations can proceed without Fiji because PACER PLUS is not related to the earlier PACER deal made exclusively by the island countries.

He claims it is a completely separate agreement but law professor Jane Kelsey, speaking for PANG, says all previous discussions on PACER - PLUS, including as recently as last month, have been under the umbrella of the PACER deal.

"So it seems something of a sign of desperation by Minister Crean to make that claim. It seems to also confirm the fact that if it was under PACER the exclusion of Fiji wouldn't be a lawful process. So Australia wants to pull the rabbit out of the hat at the meeting this week and I think that is an in indication of just how desperate they are.'"