The story so far
The TPP has been working on the down low for some time now. Negotiations have happened behind closed doors, with non-disclosure agreements securing the negotiators' silence.
We haven't seen the text, so we still don't know what the final agreement will contain. Because of the secrecy, any public knowledge about the TPP is based on leaked drafts and statements made by those involved.
The kicker? Hundreds of industry lobbyists from the US got access to the full drafts, while public interest groups like CHOICE were kept in the dark.
What we think we know about the TPP is a concern.
It looks likely to contain provisions that would:
- let our government be sued by companies for making laws in the public interest
- loosen our labelling laws, so it's much harder to make companies label ingredients like palm oil
- lock in laws that support price discrimination and the 'Australia Tax'
- lead to higher costs for medicines, as monopoly 'data exclusivity' periods increase.
The agreement looks likely to benefit foreign business at the expense of Australian consumers. And the fact that we don't know for sure what's actually going through is alarming.
We're still waiting on the government to release the text of the TPP, and will respond to it once it's available.
In 2013, we asked you to sign our petition for transparency. We received more than 14,000 signatures, and raised enough money to run a half-page ad in The Australian in December 2013.
A September 2014 report called for more transparency on copyright provisions included in trade agreements. It recommended public analysis of these kinds of provisions before any agreement is signed.
We support this, but think this transparency should be extended to let the public access the entire text of any agreement. In February 2015 we made a submission to a Senate inquiry on the Commonwealth's treaty-making process, outlining ways the European Union is pulling ahead of Australia in terms of transparency in trade agreements. It's outlined in more detail in our submission, which includes our recommendations.
In June 2015, the Senate released its report, which slammed the secrecy surrounding treaty-negotiations in Australia, and made several recommendations calling for more transparency and better consultation. You can read more detail about the recommendations in the Senate report.
That's why we're asking you to directly make a submission to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, calling for the release of the text before the agreement is finalised. We've written a submission you can use, or you can add your own words. So join the campaign and tell the government to release the text.