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Don't trade away our sovereign rights

CHOICE says Australian taxpayers are set to be sued by foreign companies if “conditions are met” under the TPP

26 March 2015

Consumer advocacy group CHOICE has renewed its call for the text of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement to be released following the latest leak, which details the threats to sovereign law making.

The leaked text of the TPP Investment Chapter, published by Wikileaks, details the threat posed to Australian law makers by an investor state dispute settlement arrangement (ISDS).

“We have already seen the damage a flawed trade agreement can deliver to Australian taxpayers with Philip Morris suing the Australian Government over plain tobacco packaging,” says CHOICE Chief Executive Alan Kirkland. 

“Although we have only been able to hear about this through unofficial leaks, it is encouraging that the Australian negotiators haven’t yet conceded completely over investor state dispute settlement.”

“We encourage the Australian government to hold firm and not expose Australia to further legal action from big tobacco over laws designed to reduce the cost of health care and protect the nation.” 

“Although Australia seems to be resisting this Chapter as drafted, we need to know what the conditions are that would see us sign up to it,” Mr Kirkland says.

“Worryingly, the leaked text reveals there will be no caps on fines and damages that can be sought by a foreign investor when suing the Australian government under the TPP.”

“Foreign investors will also be able to 'leapfrog' domestic legal options and go straight to a World Bank and United Nations Investor State Arbitration Tribunal.”

“The make-up of these Tribunals makes a mockery of procedural fairness, with judges able to rotate between acting as adjudicators and acting as advocates for companies. This would never be allowed in Australian courts and raises major issues of bias and impartiality.

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