CHOICE says there’s no way back if our rights are traded away
CHOICE will present its 14,000-strong petition on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) at Parliament House this afternoon in a last ditch bid for transparency before the secretive trade deal is signed off.
Reports indicate the TPP could be agreed as early as next week and the petition, which calls on the Australian Government to release the text of the deal before it is signed, was widely supported by consumers who fear their rights could be traded away during the negotiations.
“Once the trade deal has been agreed by the 12 nations, there is no way back,” says CHOICE CEO, Alan Kirkland.
“The Parliament will still need to ratify the treaty, but will be unable to make any changes. While the TPP text will be released before the final step of ratification takes place, the options will be to take it or leave it.”
“Australians have the right to know whether the agreement will contain the anti-consumer provisions that were revealed last year in leaked versions of the trade deal, and the right to a proper public debate about the possible impacts.”
“As the Government signed a non-disclosure agreement when the negotiations commenced, it’s hard to believe there have been any meaningful consultations with any interest group. Reinforcing their desire for secrecy, in October last year a number of journalists were barred from attending a briefing on the TPP without explanation.”
“At the same time that Australian voters are being denied the opportunity to have their say on the TPP, there are reports that hundreds of industry lobbyists in the US are being given a full day of briefings on the agreement.”
CHOICE is concerned that the TPP could:
- Restrict the Australian government’s ability to make decisions on food labelling, such as requiring palm oil to be labelled as an ingredient.
- Contain an Investor State Dispute Settlement provision which would give foreign companies the ability to sue the Government for making laws on behalf of the Australian people.
- Criminalise copyright infringement by individual consumers even where no profit is made.
- Ban parallel imports, preventing consumers from accessing cheaper products from overseas.
- Entrench geo-blocking laws that sustain higher prices in Australia, including for digital products like software, games and music downloads.
- Charge internet service providers with responsibility for policing copyright law.
- Reduce access to affordable medicines.
The trade talks commenced in 2010 with little public transparency. The Trans-Pacific Partnership is a negotiation involving 12 countries: Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, United States of America and Vietnam.
Tom Godfrey, CHOICE, Head of Media, 0430 172 669, @choice_news
To read more on CHOICE tests, reviews and campaigns, go to choice.com.au