The union movement’s opposition to the China Australia Free Trade Agreement (ChAFTA) has ratcheted up since the agreement was signed in Canberra on June 17. ChAFTA allows for 95% of Australian exports to China to be tariff free. These will include many agricultural products, including beef and dairy. In addition, there will be liberalisation of market access for the Australia's services sector, and investments by private companies from China under A$1.078 billion will not be subject to Foreign Investment Review Board approval.
Electrical Trades Union
Unions have warned that electricity consumers will be hit by worse services, reduced maintenance and slower emergency response times, after a decision by the Australian Energy Regulator (AER) in late April. The AER decision, which takes effect from July 1, sets revenues that the publicly owned NSW network companies Ausgrid, Endeavour Energy, TransGrid and Essential Energy can charge private power retailers.
A report commissioned by the Victorian branch of the Electrical Trades Union (ETU) shows that energy sector privatisation in Australia has been "a dismal failure", which has produced "no benefits" for consumers, but has resulted in "large fiscal losses" for taxpayers. Economist John Quiggin, from the University of Queensland, reviewed energy sector privatisation and the related process of electricity market reform between the early 1990s and now, and found no long-term benefits for either governments or consumers.