Australia US Free Trade Aggreement?

Should Australia participate?


The following activities take you through the process of researching, evaluating and then deciding on whether or not Australia should participate in the Free Trade aggreement with the US. The first group of activities are warm ups and involve getting a feel for the issue.The aim is to help you relate what you have already learnt about international trade to this issue. The second group aim to show you where you may find information on this topic on the web and how to recognise and use it. The third group of activities involve the actual investigation of the issue and organising this material for your presentation. The last group require you to present your finding at a round table conference with your class members and decide what Australia should do.

Word Attachment for this activity.

How to use this page.

Students should note all the instructions and initial resources for the activity are on this page so you can simply scroll up or down or use the links below to locate or review any information that you may need. Bookmark this page so you can easily return to it.

Warm Ups

Finding Resources

Getting down to business!

Warm Ups

Activities 1 2 3 and 4

These two activities are found in the word document you or your teacher may download. The purpose of these is simply to remind you of relevant economic ideas in this area. Key ideas covered include the theory of comparative advantage, efficiency in the allocation of resources and arguments for and against protection.In short a wake up call on the Economics of Free trade. Activity 4 aims to give you some practice in recognising economic arguments in the real world so you may successfully complete activity 5.

Activity 5 Finding Resources

(1) Visit two web sites and collect two different examples of sensational quotes about Australia's Free Trade Aggreement with the US. A typical example of such a quote might be "If this agreement goes ahead Australia will become the 54th state of America! We will cease to exist!" Another example might be " Once this aggreement is ratified Australia's external problems are over. Goodbye current account deficit and goodbye and good riddance to our foreign debt!" Yet another example might be "This is the end of Australia's film industry" or "We will never be able to afford decent drugs again!" Choose the most quotable and controversial quotes you can find. If you cannot find juicy quotes choose ones that at least clearly express an opinion. Quotes that are either for or against AUSFTA.

Where will you find this kind of material?

Juicy quotables may be found in the editorial sections of news paper web sites, letters to the editor even online diaries, online opinion forums and in the comments of think tanks. No doubt there are many places that you know of where quotables may be found. Two Australian online opinion sites have been listed below. Yahoo and Google will search the web for news and usually produce hits from all over the world. If your stuck these are worth a try. Most major Australian news papers publish letters to the editor online and their editorials. If these are not adequate then you can explore more possibilites in the News Section or the Australia section of this site. Students may wish to search in America and a couple of links for this purpose have been included below. If your really desperate consult a Blog, there is no way of knowing what you will find here! So warn your teacher! Generally the FTA appears not to have received the same amount of coverage in the states as here and hence your best bet is either Google or Yahoo news for the US.

Online Opinion Sites

News sites

For the brave search some blogs

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Activity 6

Share your findings with other class members.
(1) Note who made your quote and what group in the community they represent.
(2) What's their gripe? Are they for or against the AUSFTA and why?
(3) Produce a class for and against table. See attachment.
(4) As a class produce a short summary of the arguments. Label your arguments according to the type of argument they are. For example should we reject the agreement because big American industries will gobble up small Australian ones? This is an infant industry argument. Are there efficiency arguments present? Are there self sufficiency arguments present?
(5) Produce a list of the groups that are most affected? Who appear to be winners? Who are the losers?
(6) Brainstorm a list of questions you have about the AUSFTA and discuss these with your teacher.

Where will I find resources on the FTA?

Activity 7

Find two web resources that contain information on Australia's Free Trade Agreement with America?

Often students look for web sites on free trade,you may find it helpful to think about it in the following way.

Who would know about Australia's Free Trade Agreement?

Who has made public comments about it?

Where would I go in the real world to find this out?

Once you have answered these questions then look for relevant websites. This way you will know what sites to look for.

For example in both Australia and America the following broad groups of people have made remarks about Australia's Free Trade agreement.

(a) Fill in the diagram on the( download word attachment) with the specific instances of each of these groups. For Example John Howard for politicians.

(b) A list of directories to each of the above groups of resources may be found in the perspective map below. Find two web resources on Australia's FTA.



Look at the members of these associations and their directories of links. They cover links to the main industry associations in Australia

These sites contain directories that link to the home pages of most Australian Unions.

Think Tanks


Think often comment from their own point of view on topical issues such as the FTA.

Many parliamentary committees publish their findings online and are useful sources of information on topical issues. The parliamentary library publishes E briefs and background papers on topical issues and these are useful sources. Finally government departments contain a wealth of information for the bold researcher.


Pressure Groups

Political parties express both their own opinions and link to the web pages of politicians. Many interesting remarks on FTA's may be found here.

Pressure groups often comment on AUSFTA and provide interesting analysis of it.

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Activity 8 What am looking at?

Complete the web resource evaluation checklist contained in the attachment. What are you looking at hard facts, speculation or pure hot air? Once you have completed this activity build a hot list of useful sites with your classmates.

Getting down to business


The Australian Government has publicised the draft of the Australia United States Free Trade agreement. This document has generated a great deal of controversy between pressure groups, political parties and in the community. A government official has noted however that very few young people have participated in the debate. If the AUSFTA causes unemployment in Australia then it will be young rather than older Australians who will miss out on jobs. If the AUSFTA means Australians can buy a broader range of cheaper products then it will be today's young people who will be the beneficiaries. If the AUSFTA means Australia's external problems get worse then this will have the biggest effect on the standard of living of Young Australians. By the time the AUSFTA has a significant effect on the Australian economy, the generation that signed up to it will have long since passed. It is time therefore that youthful Australia participated in the debate and worked out the effect of the AUSFTA on the area's of the economy where they intend to work. Your class has been asked to undertake this task for all young Australians.

Getting Ready

(1) Break your class up into groups on the basis of the industries in the economy where you hope to work in the future. So for example if you wished to run a cattle farm, you would choose the beef industry. If you wanted to manage a factory, you would choose manufacturing. A list of industries and sectors of the economy where some of the possible outcomes are known has been provided below to give you an starting point.




Manufactured Goods


Financial Services

Government Procurement

Intellectual Property



Audio Visual



You may choose other industries if you wish.

Pick your group.

(2) In your groups complete the table on the next page and discuss this with your teacher. See Attachment Getting your idea's organised.

The Task

Your group is required to investigate the costs and benefits of the AUSFTA for your particular industry and arrive at a clear conclusion supported by evidence. Your group will be required to present your findings to a round table class conference that will decide whether or not Australia should participate in the AUSFTA. Your presentation should run for about 5 to 10 minutes.

What will you need to cover?

What you must include in your presentation!

These must do items cover how the presentation will be assessed.

How will you present your findings?

Your group may present your findings as a poster, a talk supported by overheads or a power point presentation.

How to go about it?

Your group is required to complete a large task and hence all of the people in your group will need to contribute. The first thing is to work out what you need to know.

A suggestion is to revise your getting our ideas organised table and add in new things you need to find out and take off those that are no longer relevant.

Use the organiser from the where do I find resources activity to work out where you can find out the things you need to know. One strategy might be to assign a group member to government resources, one to pressure group resources etc. Meet regularly to revise progress and re allocate your tasks. Some web resources are bigger than others.

Outline a rough plan of what your final presentation will look like. For example

Draw up a list of tasks that need to be completed and assign each to a group member.

If you decide to do a power point presentation, do not rely on one person to do the whole thing. Break it up into sections and each group member completes one section. You may copy and paste them into one file at the end.

Some students find it useful to set up a Yahoo Club and use it to share e mails and resources as they complete their task. This also allows you to chat and conduct progress meetings when you are not at school. Yahoo Groups

A number of useful web resources have been listed on the web page for this activity to help you start.


Appoint a conference moderator to draw up presentation schedules, moderate discussions and invite your local member if possible. Your local member may be willing to actually chair discussions. After all it is your future!

Appoint a representative for your group who discusses and defends your case and another group representative who presents it.

After all presentations have been given determine your class position. AUSFTA for or against?

Once the class has arrived at a view, make use of your arguments and evidence and send a class letter to the Prime Minister advising him on the Young Australian view of AUSFTA.

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Useful Web Resources