The Abbott government has described reports of secretive trade negotiations that could lead to fundamental deregulation of Australia’s banks as a massive union beat-up.
WikiLeaks has released a draft of the financial services section of the Trade in Services Agreement (TiSA) being negotiated by 50 countries.
The leaked document suggests foreign banks would be given greater access to Australia, local bank accounts and financial data could be transferred overseas, and foreign financial and information technology workers would be free to flood the workforce.
The Financial Sector Union is concerned the negotiations could lead to a wave of job losses.
But Trade Minister Andrew Robb said Australia wanted to open new opportunities for its services sector, especially in the growing Asian markets.
Stories about the trade negotiations undermining the “four pillars” banking policy were a massive beat-up driven by unions and anti-trade groups, he told AAP in a statement.
“We are certainly not going to enter into any agreement that undermines our world class domestic banking and financial services sector. Why would we?” he said.
“What we are seeing is just the latest instalment of the reprehensible campaign being waged by anti-trade groups to undermine our efforts.”
But Mr Robb wouldn’t confirm whether the leaked document was legitimate.
FSU national secretary Leon Carter said Australia’s regulations sheltered the finance industry from the worst of the global financial crisis.
“In what appears to be a case of collective amnesia, we now have a government willing to capitulate to the demands of our big banks and financial services lobbyists at the expense of jobs, data security and the best interests of customers,” he said in a statement.
Mr Robb said the union failed to mention the TiSA negotiations started under Labor.
The Australian Greens warned deregulation could allow foreign corporations to dictate Australian laws, opening the country up to litigation and posing a risk to sovereignty.
“It would have profound and chilling ramifications for this country,” Greens senator Peter Whish-Wilson told reporters in Canberra.