October 2014 Guest Speaker, Pauline Westwood

Our fellow Vintage Reds member Pauline Westwood spoke to the October meeting about the TPP. Pauline was formerly a senior policy officer in the public service and a senior research librarian.

For updates and more information on the TPP, see the Australian Fair Trade & Investment Network Ltd, AFTINET.

The Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP)

The TPP is a controversial and highly secretive “free trade” agreement currently being pushed by big corporations and negotiated behind closed doors by officials from the United States and 11 other countries – Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, and Vietnam, with a couple of other countries about to join.

It is more about increasing the power of foreign corporations than free trade. At the stroke of a pen, this deal could:

– Shed even more Australian jobs in the manufacturing and other sectors;

– Reduce wages and further weaken union power to work for better wages and conditions;

– Prohibit banking regulations which protected Australian depositors during the GFC;

– Threaten internet access and impose stringent new copyright restrictions and penalties;

– Increase cost of access to media;

– Ban “Buy Australian” policies needed to create green jobs;

– Raise the cost of pharmaceuticals by lengthening patents and decreasing access to generics;

– Expose Australian consumers to unsafe imported food products;

– Restrict labelling information on food products;

– Ban labelling of GMO products;

– Empower corporations to attack environmental and health and safety standards;

– Restrict social welfare legislation;

– Reduce government oversight of environmental effects of fracking and other kinds of mining;

– Weaken regulation of agricultural toxins and pesticides;

– Restrict government regulation of foreign ownership of land and other assets;

– Lead to the privatisation of government services with favoured treatment for foreign corporations (including the post office, transport, Medicare);

– Increase cost of social services.

ISDS allows foreign corporations to sue Australia (i.e. taxpayers) for millions of dollars in special foreign courts for any legislation, regulation or policy which affects or may affect their profits (after losing their case twice in Australian courts, Philip Morris is currently suing the Australian Government over plain packaging using a foreign court under the provisions of 1993 treaty with Hong Kong).

There is no appeal against the decisions of these courts.

If the Australian government agrees to the TPP, Australian society will be radically and suddenly transformed without the need for a referendum or even public discussion. Yet a recent survey by the Australia Institute showed that only 11% of Australians know this deal even exists or is in the pipeline.