Submission to the (Australian) Senate Committee on the Transpacific Partnership

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This is a copy of my submission (see no 61) as shown on the Australian Senate TPP submissions site October 2016.

You can see this submission and all the others on the site shown below.

http://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Committees/Senate/Foreign_Affairs_Defence_and_Trade/TPP/Submissions

Des Pensable copyright 2016

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Dr Des Maddalena, BAppSc (Hons) UTS, M.App Sc UTS, PhD Sydney Uni

(Address given)

Dr Maddalena is a retired biomedical scientist who has worked in a variety of areas of science, technology and industry in Australia for over 50 years.   He is currently a writer and activist in Global Warming and Human Rights. He is Climate Reality Leader, a member of Stop the TPP Australia, Greenpeace (Australia), 350.0rg (Australia) and several other environmental groups.

Executive summary

In this submission I am asking my fair minded political representatives in the Australian Senate to protect ordinary Australians from what appears to be a trade agreement with a hidden agenda that I and many other Australians believe have negative consequences for the future of all Australians and their children.

Based upon the conclusions herein, I support the alliance of 59 Non-government organisations representing millions of Australians and two petitions totalling 305,000 signatures that were presented to the opposition parties in the Australian government requesting an independent review of each of the parts of the TPP to be completed and disseminated to the people of Australia for their consideration before ratification.

I also reject and believe many others reject the concept of a trade agreement that has been

  1. Created in secret by transnational organisations without consultation of Australian consumer advocacy groups.
  2. That contains an ISDS clause that can override and subordinate Australian law.
  3. That provides little economic benefit and will cost tens of thousands of jobs.
  4. That dictates trade is more important than actions to mitigate Global warming.
  5. That will have major detrimental effects on Australian culture and way of life.
  6. That could well drag us into a cold war between USA and China our largest trading partner which will have devastating consequences on our economy.

 Introduction

If I were to imagine what might happen if a group of the most powerful multinational corporations on the planet came up with a wish list of changes to government laws and rules that would allow for “free trade” between countries with little or no regulations. I can imagine they might state that it would create jobs and everyone would benefit.

In a perfect world this might be true. However, there is no such thing as a perfect world run by people whose motto is, “greed is good” or/and  “too big to fail”. It is much more likely that they would come up with a list of changes in the laws of the countries that would maximise their profits and minimise their costs while treating any damage to the environment as an externality and damage to people as “unfortunate” collateral damage.

Such an agreement would have to be done in secret as the conspirators would know that it would never be accepted if done transparently with consumer advocacy groups watching over the process.

The large transnational companies would win big time and the people would lose out on almost every aspect of their lives. Job losses, more work for less money, harsher working conditions, poorer health, less leisure. The distribution of the country’s wealth would become more uneven.

This all sounds like the basis of a good dystopian novel except that it is NOT fiction and it is NOT fantasy it is REAL and happening right now. It’s called the Transpacific Partnership Agreement (TPP).

It’s supposed to be a ‘free trade’ agreement designed for 12 countries around the Pacific Ocean including Australia and New Zealand but it’s not about ‘free trade’ at all, it’s about restrictive trade and control of the world’s Intellectual Property (IP).

It’s about entrenching an unlimited growth economic model in Australia when owing to the threat of Global Warming the world is in dire need of more a sustainable model. It will change the way Australians live. It will cost every one of us in Australia a lot of our wealth for very little benefit.

In a study on the “Economic Gains and Costs of the TPP” in New Zealand, the study was scathing about the modelling methods used by the US company employed by the NZ government to justify joining the TPP… “the TPP could sharply increase income and wealth inequality. A significant part of the rise in inequality over the last three decades has been widely attributed to globalisation and the TPP can be expected to exacerbate this.”

If New Zealand was concerned enough about the TPP to have a cost benefit study carried out I can only wonder why the Australian government is reluctant to have a study carried out by our own Productivity Commission whose job it is to examine agreements such as these.

There is also a similar trade agreement being discussed for most of Europe called the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP).

Joseph Stiglitz (Nobel Prize winner, former World Bank chief economist) has stated

“[T]he negotiations to create a free-trade area between the US and Europe, and another between the US and much of the Pacific (except for China), are not about establishing a true free-trade system. Instead, the goal is a managed trade regime managed, that is, to serve the special interests [the multinational companies] that have long dominated trade policy in the West.”

“The likelihood that what emerges from the coming talks will serve ordinary Americans’ interests is low; the outlook for ordinary citizens in other countries is even bleaker.”

If both the TPP and the TTIP are signed and ratified then the multinational companies will have a template to rule the world. It’s been called a “corporate coup in disguise” in the USA and strongly criticised in the UK and other countries. The multinationals have much to gain, and ordinary Australians and citizens in all the other countries involved have much to lose.

These so called “Free Trade“ agreements will cause a dramatic reduction in democracy around the world as governments will be less able to make laws to protect the people in their countries from corporate tax evasion, political corruption, pollution, environmental destruction and the often antisocial and malevolent actions of some of the transnational corporations.

In the next section I will examine only selected problems created by the TPP as at over 6000 pages it is not possible for any single person to examine and understand it in any reasonable amount of time. That is the job of a team of experts such as exists in the Australian Productivity Commission.

Intellectual Property Chapter.

I am an inventor and have several patents. They are expensive to take out and maintain but they are designed to have a limited life so that I can gain just rewards for my inventions then allow others to freely use the concepts and ideas. I have joint patents with others on pharmaceutical drugs and I am aware of the costs associated with developing and marketing the products.

I am also aware of the limitations of my expertise and knowledge and defer to others that have the specialised knowledge to interpret the legalese within the TPP agreement. That’s why I believe we need the Productivity Commission to examine the TPP.

The Intellectual Property (IP) rights chapter was leaked by Wikileaks and found to have unsettling consequences to me and many consumer and human rights organisations around the world .

Julian Assange of WikiLeaks said. “If instituted, the TPP’s IP regime would trample over individual rights and free expression, as well as ride roughshod over the intellectual and creative commons.” And “If you read, write, publish, think, listen, dance, sing or invent; if you farm or consume food; if you’re ill now or might one day be ill, the TPP has you in its crosshairs.”

The Electronic Frontiers Foundation (EFF) in the USA has examined the Wikileaks document on Intellectual Property and said

“The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is a secretive, multi-national trade agreement that threatens to extend restrictive intellectual property (IP) laws across the globe and rewrite international rules on its enforcement. The main problems are two-fold:
(1) IP chapter: Leaked draft texts of the agreement show that the IP chapter would have extensive negative ramifications for users’ freedom of speech, right to privacy and due process, and hinder peoples’ abilities to innovate.

(2) Lack of transparency: The entire process has shut out multi-stakeholder participation and is shrouded in secrecy.”

“The TPP Will Rewrite Global Rules on Intellectual Property Enforcement”
“All signatory countries will be required to conform their domestic laws and policies to the provisions of the Agreement.”

In a later statement the EFF said this:

“With its TPP proposals, the USTR is putting peoples’ freedoms and ability to innovate at risk, while imposing greater barriers    to development and human rights particularly for those from developing countries. The scope of the text proposed by the US and Australia will restrict rights that are        essential to access to information culture, science, education, and innovation. We cannot accept these limitations on fundamental Human rights.”

The EFF have recently updated their original statements after viewing the final legally scrubbed TPP agreement and found that little had changed between the leaked copy and the final copy. They also found many more problems.

So the TPP is about much more than trade- it’s about restricting our creative rights and our human rights as well.

Some of the Perceived Ramifications for Australia

  1. Unfair restrictive laws with regard to the Internet, books, software, games, videos and movies, that will NOT benefit any Australian.
  2. Regulations and penalties to FORCE Internet service providers to police their Internet users connections and take down / block any sites that appear might be in breach of the US based copyright laws.
  3. It means Internet CENSORSHIP. It means that the Australian government will lose the rights to make laws regarding IP on the Internet. A similar ruleto this was blocked by International protest a couple of years ago.
  4. Treat temporary reproductions of copyrighted works without copyright holders’ authorization as copyright infringement.  You won’t be able to save ANYTHING shown on commercial radio, TV or the Internet to show other people or even comment about without being in breach of the law. This will drastically affect social media and Youtube content.
  5. The TPP wants copyright terms to go well beyond the internationally agreed period in the 1994 Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS). This is NOT about fair compensation for the authors. It’s about big multimedia companies controlling art and literature and making profit out of it forever.
  6. Restrictions on fair use of IP for example in reviews and research. This will affect libraries, schools, universities, social media and anyone wishing to do research or study.
  7. Digital Locks. The TPP calls for more extensive use of digital locks on media content. This will override Australia’s  2007 TPM regime exclusions for region-coding on movies on DVDs, videogames, and players, and for embedded software in devices that restrict access to goods and services for the device. In the US, business competitors have used digital locks to try to block printer cartridge refill services, competing garage door openers, and to lock mobile phones to particular network providers.
  8. Ban parallel importation of genuine goods acquired from other countries without the authorization of copyright owners. This will allow local branches of overseas companies to fix prices to limit competition and it will stop people from buying cheaper versions of the same software or media from overseas suppliers. Definitely NOT free trade.
  9. Adopt criminal sanctionsfor copyright infringement that is done without a commercial motivation. In short it means LARGE PENALTIES perhaps thousands of dollars and gaol sentences for any person caught copying a single song, video, movie or anything under copyright even for use within the same household.

The final legally scrubbed version also had changes allowing for criminal charges under a wide range of scenarios. Is it really in Australia’s best interest to make large numbers of Australians criminals?

Increased Cost of Medicine and Drugs

Oxfam says that the “US [TPP] proposals will have dire health consequences across Asia and Latin America. Australia is a wealthy country but can we not consider the cost to others especially the poor in other countries?

Medicine Sans Frontiers (MSF) says this about the TPP effect on public health in Australia.

“US proposals would require the further patenting of modifications of old medicines, even in the absence of therapeutic benefits. They would also require patenting of surgical, therapeutic and diagnostic methods which could increase medical liability and the cost of medical practice and thus reduce access to medical procedures.”

“It would prohibit pre-grant opposition to patents. This would make it much more difficult and costly for local organisations to challenge patents and drugs protected by patents even if the patents were invalid.”

“It would also extend patents past the current 20-year norm and prohibit national drug regulatory authorities from approving generic medicine until patents have expired.”

“Finally it would prevent drug safety regulators from using existing clinical data to give market approval to generic or biosimilar drugs. These are all great wins for big pharmaceutical companies. But they come at the cost of public health.”

The Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) provision

Australia is richly endowed with massive deposits of coal and coal seam gas but the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) says that to avoid dangerous Global Warming exceeding 2 degrees Celsius, Australia must keep 90% of it in the ground.

The Transpacific Partnership (TPP) agreement  contains a special section called the Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) provision. This is a mechanism that allows a multinational company to sue a country like Australia in an external tribunal composed of commercial lawyers if the government makes any laws or changes to its laws in a way that might reduce the projected profit of the multinational company.

Now imagine a fossil fuel company like Santos which has licenses to mine coal seam gas in NSW and Queensland that is currently being blocked from producing gas by environmental activists who are concerned about the effects of the mining operations on the local agricultural land, water, air and people.

If the Turnbull government were to sign the TPP with the ISDS provision then Santos could sue any state government for loss of revenue that it could have made had it not been impeded by the activists.

The state governments will have their hands tied.  If they choose to use heavy handed tactics to stop the activists they are likely to cause increased civil unrest and face the possibility of being voted out of government as well as being sued for loss of company profit.

If they choose to change the laws to increase environmental protection demanded by the people they can be sued for loss of profit.

Even if they choose to cancel the company’s license to mine for coal seam gas they can be sued for loss of profit.  The same situation will apply for any foreign companies with coal mining licenses.

Effectively by allowing the ISDS clause ALL future state and commonwealth government in Australia will have their hands tied. Australia will lose its sovereign right to make its own laws about how companies operate in Australia. It will LOSE its sovereign right to make environmental laws that protect our country and the health of its citizens- you and me. It will weaken our democracy.

If you doubt that this will happen, then consider the case in Canada where the state of Quebec was worried about the health effects of coal seam gas on its citizens so it imposed a moratorium on CSG mining in 2011.  Using an ISDS clause in the NAFTA agreement between Canada and the USA, a US company is suing Quebec  for $250 million in lost profits because of the moratorium. If fact, the Canadian government are being sued by several companies for trying to introduce environmental regulations.

The USA is currently being sued for US $15 billion for blocking the XL pipeline by the Canadian developers.

Australia has already been sued under the provisions of an ISDS agreement signed between Australia and Hong Kong.  When Australia decided to introduce plain paper cigarette packaging to help reduce health damage caused by smoking the Phillip Morris Company challenged it in the High Court of Australia arguing that they would lose sales and profit. The High Court found in favour of the Commonwealth government stating that the government had the sovereign right to make laws protecting the health of its people.

So the company then sued the Australian government through an ISDS agreement in Hong Kong. We happened to win the case but on a technicality rather than the merit of the case.

Every time we are successfully sued by a foreign multinational company the people of Australia will have to pay the bill through increased taxes.

There are already hundreds of these types of ISDS cases where multinational companies are suing countries for loss of profit. A large proportion of them are held in secret with neither the details of the case or the decisions of the tribunals being announced and there is NO APPEAL mechanism. The rulings of the secret tribunals are final and cannot be challenged.

The possibility of being sued is already stopping countries from making laws to protect the health of their own citizens. The UK and several other countries  were going to introduce plain paper packages like in Australia but have suspended the laws pending the outcome of the Phillip Morris challenge to Australia.

Imagine now if the fossil fuel companies decide to use ISDS provisions in the TPP or its sister agreement the TTIP.  They could make all counties involved pay for their loss of profits resulting from them having to leave their fossil fuels in the ground. It’s been estimated that the fossil fuel companies will lose at least $20 trillion  if they have to leave 80% in the ground.

So how much will Australia have to pay?  Probably hundreds of billions!

The TPP and its ISDS provisions are an EXREMELY BAD IDEA for any country to agree to, especially Australia with all its fossil fuel leases.

The TPP, the Environment  and Global Warming

The environmental chapter of the TPP was leaked by Wikileaks who stated.

”the Environment Chapter does not include enforcement mechanisms serving the defence of the environment; it is vague and weak, and adheres to the lowest common denominator of environmental interests.” and

“The Environment Chapter clearly shows the intention to first and foremost protect trade, not the environment. The principle is spelled out in this draft that local environmental laws are not to obstruct trade or investment between the countries.”

Their assessment of the section was that it has no binding clauses that will allow any country to create any laws that will protect their environment and there is NO MENTION of Global Warming or Climate Change.

How can the world’s biggest trade treaty NOT mention Global Warming which is the world’s biggest threat?

The TPP is specifically designed to stimulate world trade.

Most world trade is carried by ships who just so happen to use the world’s dirtiest fuel for their engines. They use bunker oil which is the leftover gunk after everything else is extracted from crude oil.

Fifteen of the world’s biggest container ships contribute as much pollution as the ALL the world’s cars.

New research showing that in one year, a single large container ship can emit cancer and asthma-causing pollutants equivalent to that of 50 million cars. The low grade bunker fuel used by the worlds 90,000 cargo ships contains up to 2,000 times the amount of Sulphur compared to diesel fuel used in automobiles. The recent boom in the global trade of manufactured goods has also resulted in a new breed of super- sized container ship which consume fuel not by the gallons, but by tons per hour, and shipping now accounts for 90% of global trade by volume.

The environmental impact of shipping includes greenhouse gas emissions, acoustic, and oil pollution. The International Maritime Organization (IMO) estimates that Carbon dioxide emissions from shipping were equal to 2.7% of the global human-made emissions in 2007 and expects them to rise by as much as 2 to 3 times by 2050 if no action is taken.

The TPP will substantially increase Global Warming as the TPP proposes NO carbon emissions offsets to account for the increased global trade.

Where are the clauses that OFFSET the carbon, nitrogen and sulphur to be released by the extra trade?

Where are the clauses allowing Australian citizens the right to sue transnational mining corporations polluting the Australian environment and desecrating aboriginal cultural sites?

The simple facts are that the TPP should NOT be used as an excuse to do less about mitigating Global Warming. It must also NOT be used as a convenient punitive measure to force countries to pay the fossil fuel barons to keep fossil fuels in the ground.

Geopolitics of the TPP

This section is primarily based on this article by the author.

Geopolitics is a game played by countries to give them and their people an economic or military advantage over other countries. The three “trade“ treaties, TTP/ TTIP and TISA appear to be part of a political game and the latest strategy of the USA to maintain its position as the world hegemon.

According Ashley J. Tellis (2014) in “The geopolitics of the TTIP and the TPP”, excluding war, the USA has four strategies that it could use.

The fourth strategy is to get in first and change all the trading rules around the world so that they will heavily favour the USA and disadvantage China. The strategy is to cement into place the capitalist neoliberal ideology that has made the USA the world hegemon by getting as many countries to realign their legal, commercial, labour, educational and cultural systems with the USA thus giving the USA the advantage over any changes that China might like to make.

This strategy seems to be the one chosen by the current US administration.

So how does Australia fare in this game? Unfortunately, very poorly. The problem is that Australia is naturally rich in minerals, fossil fuels and agricultural land but geographically remote from the USA/Europe.

There has been little discussion anywhere about how the massive European/USA TTIP trade agreement will affect Australia. That is perhaps because it will affect us adversely and the politicians and US aligned media are keeping quiet about it.

One German study was quite candid about the TTIP. There will be winners and losers. The biggest winners will be the USA and the UK and the biggest losers will be Australia and Canada. I’ll bet that’s a surprise!

Australia will lose the equivalent of 7.41% of its GNP growth which roughly equates to about $106 billion per year. Canada will lose about 9.48% of its GDP or about $153 billion /year in 2012 US dollars. I’ll bet the Canadians don’t know that.

All the members of the BRICS alliance lose out of course. In fact BRICS seems to be all about trying to offset the TTIP losses.

Perhaps Australia and Canada would be better off joining the BRICS alliance? The German study suggested countries outside the TTIP would lose 250,000 jobs. Presumably Australia and Canada will be hard hit losing tens of thousands of jobs.

The TPP has two roles to play in the Pacific Rim. Firstly it is a sop to Australia, Canada and Mexico, all losers from the TTIP to try and offset their trade losses caused by the TTIP and secondly it is to reduce Chinese influence (on Australia and New Zealand) in the region. However, it is likely to do the opposite.

If we lose significant trade from the TTIP block we will fight to increase trade within the Asian area thus further cementing our relationships within the Asian region

In a study of three possible scenarios comparing the outcomes for the 12 TPP counties with the current ASEAN trade plan and a future combined ASEAN + TPP trade plan from 2020, the TPP shows Australia will benefit by about $US 8.6 billion a year (0.2% GDP) and Canada $US 9.8 billion. This a far cry from what both countries will lose from the TTIP. In fact the BIGGEST winner with the TPP will be  the USA.  ALL the Asian economies will LOSE.

The best scenario is if we all (including the USA and Canada) join in an Asian Free Trade zone (without the USA rules). Everyone gains from this except it might mean the USA loses some of its coercive hegemonic power. However, this is unlikely while the neoconservatives have power.

Note that the people of the USA are also losers in the TPP deal. The TPP is about the US corporate POWER especially the transnationals gaining further power over governments. The US people will LOSE jobs like when they signed the NAFTA agreement which is a similar trade agreement to the TPP between US, Canada and Mexico. It’s believed they lost 700,000 jobs offshore.

With TPP and TISA Australia WILL lose control over our economy, commerce, banking, military, working conditions, education and environment. We become a true vassal state of the US transnational corporate empire for a potential gain of 0.2% GDP which may or may not eventuate as economic models use very rubbery figures.

recent World Bank study has confirmed that Australia will hardly benefit from the TPP gaining an increase in GDP of only 0.7% by 2030. In this study they confirm that Australia is likely to lose 35,000 jobs.

The Threat of a new Cold War

The section is based primarily on this article by the submission author.

ANY economist will tell you that there will be winners and losers with any international trade agreement. The TPP/ TTIP is DESIGNED to set up the international structure for which countries will be the winners and losers.

The TPP/ TTIP agreements specifically ignore China, Russia, Africa, many Asian and South American countries which have de facto been CHOSEN by the USA transnational corporate western alliance to be the LOSERS.

President Obama has stated openly that the TPP is designed to allow the USA to set the world trading rules not China. It sets up an unofficial declaration of a trade war between the USA and China which is a big problem for Australia as China is Australia’s largest trading partner. The possibility of a cold war between China and the USA is real.

For its part, China has set up the BRICS trading alliance and according to one report  “has been busy creating or deepening economic alliances with ASEAN, South Korea, and Australia, and spearheading a large multilateral FTA, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCPE), that would include India and other East and Southeast Asian nations.”

If the TPP and TTIP agreements are likely to speed up and increase global warming and increase world war tensions they should be scrapped as we all want a healthy happy future for our families.

Many sane and caring environmentally conscious people in the USA are currently fighting a mighty battle to kill off the TPP and massive numbers of similar people in Europe are fighting to have the TTIP scrapped. For the sake of our democracies and the world’s future let’s all hope they win.

In Australia surely our future is in protecting our environment not selling fossil fuel to help the world die or be a part of a new cold war between super powers.

Conclusions

In the Intellectual Property section I have shown that there are serious consequences for all Australian regarding intellectual property in all cases negatively affecting their consumer and human rights.

In the section on Effect of the TPP on Privatisation I have shown that the forced privatisation of all government services is likely to cause massive cultural changes most of which the Australian people do not wish and would not allow if given a choice.

In the ISDS section I have reiterated the cries of many that this section alone could economically cost the people of Australia much more than it will ever gain from the TPP. It is also a threat to the government’s sovereignty in making laws that protect the Australian people’s interests and wealth.

In the section on the TPP Environment and Global Warming I pointed out that the TPP will cause an increase in trade which will increase Global Warming. At the Paris Climate Change conference last year 190 countries agreed that Global Warming was the most urgent world problem to fix. Australia agreed. Signing the TPP contradicts both logic and our agreement to reduce carbon emissions.

Finally in the Geopolitics section I have shown that Australians gain little economic advantage from the TPP certainly not enough to offset all its negative aspects for the people of Australia.

Consequently, I support the alliance of 59 Non-government organisations representing millions of Australians and two petitions totalling 305,000 signatures that were presented to the opposition parties in the Australian government requesting an independent review of each of the parts of the TPP to be completed and disseminated to the people of Australia for their consideration before ratification.

I also reject and believe many others reject the concept of a trade agreement that has been

  1. Created in secret by transnational organisations without consultation of Australian consumer advocacy groups.
  2. That contains an ISDS clause that overrides and subordinates Australian law.
  3. That provides little economic benefit and will cost tens of thousands of jobs.
  4. That dictates trade is more important than actions to mitigate Global warming.
  5. That will have major detrimental effects on Australian culture and way of life.
  6. That could well drag us into a cold war between USA and China our largest trading partner which will have devastating consequences on our economy.

Published by

Des Pensable

Des is a native of Sydney where he currently lives with his partner Joanne. He has a PhD in neuroscience and worked as a biomedical scientist where he published widely in several areas of science. Since retiring, he’s been a keen writer of poetry, stories and philosophy which appear on his web, blog site and on line literary publications. He is also a performance poet that appears regularly in venues around Sydney.

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