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.
The TPP text has finally been released after years of secrecy. But at 600 pages of core text and several thousand pages of associated documents, it is still difficult to understand exactly how this agreement will affect us.
CHOICE is calling on the government to get the Productivity Commission to conduct a full cost-benefit analysis of the TPP before Australia signs on. We should know what we're trading away before we commit to the TPP.
What we already know about the TPP is a concern.
It contains provisions that could:
- 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'.
The agreement looks likely to benefit foreign business at the expense of Australian consumers. And the fact that we will have only 20 Parliamentary sitting days to assess the TPP before a Committee makes a recommendation on it is alarming.
We've already released some analysis of the TPP, in conjunction with experts on copyright and intellectual property. We will produce more analysis as we work through this enormous document.
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. If there had been more transparency during TPP negotiations, we wouldn't be doing a last minute scramble to understand the text now.
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.