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Australia buys a lemon

Australia buys a lemon

The Green Party is calling on the Labour government to abandon any hope of negotiating a so-called free trade deal with the United States, as details begin to emerge about the Australia-US free trade agreement signed today.

"In his desperate attempt to cuddle-up to his friends in Washington, John Howard appears to have sold-out his own farmers, workers, manufacturers and his country's sovereignty," said Green Party Co-leader Rod Donald said today.

"Mr Howard 'volunteered' his country for the illegal war on Iraq and has now bound it even tighter to the Pentagon's apron-strings by signing up for the unnecessary and dangerous 'star wars' missile system.

"In return, Howard expected a big juicy carrot from Bush but has ended up with a lemon.

"Open agricultural access, which may have benefited Australia's farmers, has been denied. Opening-up non-agricultural products will only worsen Australia's trade deficit with the US, which is already running at US$9 billion.

"The US estimates the 'deal' will increase its manufacturing exports to Australia by another US$2 billion a year," said Mr Donald. "That will inevitably be at the expense of Australian jobs and businesses.

"We're yet to see the full details, but one thing is clear. If this is how Washington treats its 'special' friend, Australia, how good a deal would it extract from a nodding acquaintance like New Zealand?"

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