With the signing of the Malaysia-Australia Free Trade Agreement, we can now actually discover what the government has negotiated on our behalf and start trying to determine its impacts in sensitive areas such as palm oil labelling and logging. The agreement is accompanied by side letters agreeing that environmental issues will be left to the Trans Pacific Partnership talks (which the letters appear to commit the government to agreeing to).

Like the TPP, the MAFTA has been negotiated in secret and we only get to see it once it is signed. The treaty will be referred to the Joint Standing Committee on Treaties and will also require legislation; under changes by the Howard government introduced in 1996 based on an election commitment designed to exploit concerns about the Keating government's defence treaty with Indonesia, the role of Parliament in examining treaties was strengthened, but constitutionally Parliament has no role; treaty-making is entirely a matter for the executive.