How to Sell a Poisonous TPP Trade Agreement to an Unsuspecting Australian Public

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A Report on the First JSCOT Public Meeting on the TPP

Des Pensable copyright 2016

The TransPacific Partnership Agreement (TPP or TPPA) was signed in NZ  to much protest by people in the 12 countries involved on 4th February, 2016 but does not come into effect unless ratified by the parliaments of countries that represent 85% of their sum total GDPs.

The USA MUST ratify it for it to come into effect. However, the leading Democrat contender (Bernie Sanders) in the current US Presidential race has stated openly that he will NOT ratify the TPP.

Both the LNP and Labor are in favour of ratifying it ASAP but the Greens and some Independents are against ratifying it unless it had been thoroughly examined by the Australian Productivity Commission and found beneficial to the Australian people.

The Joint Standing Committee on Treaties (JSCOT) has the task of examining the TPP treaty and advising the Australian government whether it should be accepted and ratified. The JSCOT are open for submissions from the public until 11th March, 2016. This is your chance to have a say.

The Public Meeting

Yesterday Lance Priestly and I who are members of Stop TPP Australia attended the Public Forum on the TPP in Parliament House Canberra at 11-10am, 22nd January 2016. I took extensive minutes of the meeting. There were about 50 people present.

The public meeting opened with a lengthy 25 minute statement by a DFAT spokesperson who gave a prepared statement of how wonderful it would be for the future of Australia to be a part of the TPP.

She did point out that two modelling studies by the World bank and the Petersen Institute in the USA stated that we get almost zero discernible economic benefit from the TPP but pointed out that models were not always accurate and DFAT believed (without any evidence) we would do better than the models suggested.

Curiously, later when asked why DFAT doesn’t get the Australian Productivity Commission to look at the biggest and most significant Trade Agreement in Australia’s history she stated that it would be a waste of time and resources.

She pointed out that they had agonised over the ISDS clause and the Environmental Section but felt they gave Australia adequate protection.

Interestingly she stated that the DFAT had wide consultations with the unions and public groups about the TPP. Later this was queried by Melissa Parke (Labor) as no one seemed to know who DFAT consulted and she wasn’t about to give names of groups or unions.

The questions section opened with a pre-prepared question by the chair to give DFAT a further chance to tell the meeting how Australia was going to benefit from the trade side of the Agreement.

We were going to sell another 65,000 tons more sugar to the highly protected US market. Nothing much for the beef industry but reduced tariffs on cheese for the dairy industry which NZ is likely to take advantage of in a big way.

We had negotiated to sell more car parts to Japan and Malaysia. This was ironic since the government has killed off the Australian auto industry.

Interestingly she pointed out that we already had strong trade agreements with half the TPP countries and that meant the TPP wouldn’t change much at all in those countries.

She seemed very proud that they had negotiated to sell more mining equipment to some of the countries that actually don’t do much mining. In fact our mining exports were $27 million a couple of years ago and were expected to increase.

In short the new trade agreement basically delivers VERY little to the Australian agriculture industry and DFAT struggled to convince anybody present of anything otherwise.

The DFAT spokesperson was asked who had to ratify the TPP to make the deal work. It turns out that unless the USA and Japan ratify it – it will automatically FAIL. This strongly suggests that Australia and all the other 9 members should wait until the USA and Japan ratify it before we bother to ratify it.

Melissa Parke asked the DFAT spokesperson to expand on why the big US pharmaceutical companies wanted an 8 year period before generics companies could have access to the original data on the efficacy of the patented drugs.

An assistant reeled off a pre-prepared statement which sounded very much like it came directly from the US pharmaceutical industry and completely ignored that fact that the TPP gives big pharma a defacto 8 year extension of their drug patents.

Not only Australia but the whole of the third world poor LOSE BIG on this exclusive right to extend their patents. This is NOT FREE TRADE – but a serious impediment to Free trade and world health.

The discussion moved to the effects of the TPP on the Australian labour market tests. Here it seemed that the spokespeople for the DFAT were at odds with each other. One thought it would affect whether unskilled foreign workers such as those on 457 visas could do skilled jobs in Australia another thought not. It was all in how the TPP clauses were interpreted. The question was left unresolved.

Nothing was said about the TPP pushing privatisation of health or education in Australia. Presumably they didn’t want to discuss this.

The discussion moved onto the ISDS clause. The DFAT stated that they had gone to considerable trouble to make sure that the ISDS clause could be used by Australia against others but was unlikely to be used against us.

Melissa Parkes of Labor pointed out that Canada had been attacked with many ISDS cases through their NAFTA agreement and since they were mineral exporters very much like us, why wouldn’t the ISDS be used against us. The DFAT stated that somehow magically (with no evidence)  they didn’t think we would have the same problems as Canada.

They stated that they had studied all the ISDS cases thoroughly but when asked about a specific Canadian well publicized ISDS case involving environmental matters they didn’t know anything about it.

In the middle of the public hearing there was a division in Parliament which meant that the members of the JSCOT committee had to leave for about 30 minutes to resolve the issue however the public meeting wasn’t extended.

Considering that no members of the audience were able to ask questions; more than half an hour was public relations statements; a half an hour was lost by the parliamentary division and only very rudimentary questions were asked which were poorly answered by the DFAT spokespeople my personal opinion is that the meeting was just a public relations exercise rather than a genuine effort to involve the public.

I commend Labor for trying to get the DFAT to give some real answers to TPP problems. The Liberal members on the Committee were dead wood. The Greens spokesman on the committee was strangely silent. No one discussed whether the TPP would benefit the PEOPLE of Australia.

I would suggest that it is really in the nation’s ABSOLUTE interest to have the Productivity Commission thoroughly examine the benefits of the TPP for the PEOPLE of Australia NOT just the transnational corporations before we ratify it.

In fact, the TPP will usher in such a momentous changes within Australia, our culture and our way of life, that it should be put to a referendum.

Further Reading:

TTIP/TPP/TISA Trade Agreements Mandate Corporatism and Sound the Death Knell of Social Democracy

Twenty Two Reasons Why the TPP will Adversely Affect All Australians and Should be Stopped

Geopolitics of the TPP / TTIP/ TISA: How Will Australia Be Affected 

The Dangerous Relationship between TPP/TTIP/TISA, US Dollar and Global Warming

Government Betrayal Revealed as TPP Trade Agreement is Linked to Secret Plan to Privatise Health Care

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Des Pensable copyright 2016

Last week PM Turnbull signed the TPP Agreement on behalf of Australians before it has been critically assessed for value by the Australian Productivity Commission (APC). Trade Minister Rob said it didn’t need to be examined by the APC as it was only about trade and Australia couldn’t afford not to be a part of it.

Curiously, nobody else believes that the 29 chapters and 6000 pages of the Transpacific Partnership (TPP) drafted over several years by transnational corporations in secret was just a trade agreement when it can be seen that they cover every aspects of Australia society from financial control of banks to working conditions. It’s been called a brazen corporate power grab. The transnational corporations spent millions lobbying for it.

The TPP and its sister agreement TISA (still kept secret from the Australian public), specify that each country joining the agreements MUST privatise all government services. The implications of this for health care in Australia were revealed this week when a secret government plan to privatise Heath and Medical Care was leaked stating that it was about to outsource $50 billion in Heath care to private organisations.

The TTIP the USA/European sister agreement to the TPP has already caused panic in the UK when the doctors warned the public that the TTIP would mean certain death to the public health care system there.

Australian doctors have also been worried as seen in an article in the medical Journal of Australia.. ‘TPPA has greater potential to affect domestic health policy and, ultimately, the quality of health services and public health.’

‘One of the key concerns for doctors is access to medicines. Intellectual property rules proposed for the TPPA, if adopted, are likely to prolong monopolies over new medicines and delay the availability of cheaper generics.’

‘Changes to PBS processes also proposed for the TPPA could compound these problems by preventing effective price regulation and giving the pharmaceutical industry more say in PBS decision making.’

‘The TPPA could also make the shared task of tackling chronic non-communicable diseases such as diabetes and heart disease more difficult.’

‘Doctors should also be concerned about the implications of the TPPA for health services. The TPPA is expected to include rules to ensure private companies can compete on an equal footing with publicly funded or provided services.’

‘But if parts of the health system are privatised (such as Medicare claims processing and primary health care networks), this may not be reversible under the TPPA, regardless of any subsequent evidence of detrimental effects of such privatisation.’

We could be stuck with a US style Health care system.

The news about the secret privatisation plans for Australia’s Health Care system follows panic by the Teacher’s Unions as the teachers returned to school to be told that the TPP will also lead to the privatisation of their 250,000 jobs around Australia. The Baird LNP Government is already well under way privatising the NSW TAFE system which also runs HSC school courses. There are claims that it isn’t working and a total disaster with it just happened.

Recently the World Bank released information that Australia would hardly benefit from the TPP at all. We would gain about 0.7 % increase to our GDP by 2030. The TPP also frees up investment in Australia allowing foreign investors to own EVEN MORE of our country.

It seems quite credible that the LNP government are using the TPP/TISA trade agreement to launch a full scale attack on Australia’s welfare system. This fits in perfectly with the pro-privatisation sociopathic  IPA corporate think tank which seems to be the guiding light of the Turnbull government.

What will be next? Privatisation of Australia’s prison system, water, power, public transport, beaches, public parks, roads, national parks… the list is endless. When will they sell the Opera House and the Harbour Bridge?

Don’t laugh… corporate control of all our government services will end up as corporate monopolies which can charge us anything they like for the services. Any effort to regulate them will be punished using the ISDS clause in the TPP which will allow the transnational corporations running health and education to sue the government for loss of profit and you and I will have to pay the penalties.

Kiwi protests closed NZ down last week when their prime minister signed the TPP. Nothing happened in Australia. The main stream Murdoch owned corporate media has kept uncannily silent over the TPP. It’s been more concerned about potential ISIS threats to the Australian way of life diverting out attention away from the corporate takeover of Australia by stealth through the TPP and TISA agreements. We were warned by Julian Assange about the TPP.

The Australian Greens are totally against the TPP as they believe it offers no real economic benefits, it will cost jobs, Australian sovereignty  and have many detrimental aspects on our society especially in relation to the poor. Yesterday Bob Katter, Glen Lazarus and Greens Senator Peter Whish-Wilson  have announced a cross bench alliance to fight against the ratification of the TPP.

It’s known that many in the Labor party are unhappy with it as well. Whether they have the guts to cross the floor over the issue still remains unclear.

Welcome to the brave new world where our conservative politicians have planned to sell our souls to shadowy foreign investors. They will all leave their political careers behind for lucrative new jobs with the transnationals that take over the country. You and your children have been BETRAYED for a quick profit by our greedy sociopathic politicians. What are you going to do about it?

Peter Whish Wilson’s office advises that there is a public parliamentary inquiry with a minimum of ninety days from tabling required to the ratification. The date will be published on the parliamentary website.

Are you going to join thousands of others in Stop the TPP protests over the next few weeks? A general protest has been called for the 8th April although this is not finalised. The union movement is also discussing strike actions.

Write to your members of parliaments.  Join the Greens.  Become an activist – think of it as your rent to live in a good country like Australia and help save our way of life.

If you like this story share it with friends.

If you would like to read more stories about the TPP /TTIP and TISA.

Further reading

Big pharma is the real winner in TPP plan

Secret plan to sell off Medicare labelled a “disgrace”

Selling Off the Family Jewels– a simple article about Privatisation in Australia

Privatisation has damaged the economy, says ACCC chief