Labor's backing for the secretly negotiated Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal should sound an alarm for anyone hoping the election of Bill Shorten will seriously address the economic causes of electoral discontent. After Labor's prolonged insistence that it is committed to addressing inequality and wage stagnation, signing up to another falsely named "free" trade agreement should tell voters how real the opposition's commitment really is.

As even its advocates in the business sector admitted last week, the revised Trump-less TPP will deliver negligible economic benefits for Australia. Business groups' own modelling found that it would deliver, after a decade, less than two days' worth of extra national income per year. Despite the hyping of benefits for Australian exporters, it also found exports would only increase by the same amount as imports.