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Media Release
Minister for the Environment and Heritage
Senator the Hon. Ian Campbell

26 July 2004

Government calls on Labor to pass Free Trade Agreement

The United States Free Trade Agreement Legislation is to be listed for debate in the Senate next week when Parliament resumes, the Manager of Government Business in the Senate, Environment and Heritage Minister Senator Ian Campbell, said today.

Senator Campbell challenged Labor to stop stalling on the issue and table a report of the Senate Select Committee on the Free Trade Agreement, established in February this year.

"Labor has been using the excuse of this committee to avoid dealing with the Free Trade Agreement for over five months," he said.

"The original reporting date was to have been in the first week of June - three months after the text of the agreement was available.

"On 13 May the Senate agreed that the committee was to table its interim report by 21 June and its final report by 12 August.

"The Free Trade Agreement has been passed by the US Congress but in this country, which has most to gain from the agreement, Labor is hiding behind the committee and holding up a decision.

"There is too much at stake and the benefits for Australia so immense that there is no justification for Labor not to enable the legislation to be dealt with in the next sitting of Parliament."

Commonwealth of Australia