The Australian Greens
The Joint Standing Committee on Treaties (JSCOT) Inquiry into the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (the TPP Agreement) received submissions from peak bodies and experts in trade. A substantial number of submissions raised concerns regarding the TPP which were echoed in the evidence provided in the Public Hearings.
Despite the evidence provided and concerns raised by these experts, the Majority Committee report has stated its support for the TPP and recommended that binding treaty action be taken.
The Australian Greens are strongly opposed to the ratification of the TPP and recommend that no measures are taken towards Australia’s acceptance of the Agreement.
The Greens have serious concerns regarding the secrecy under which the TPP was negotiated over the course of six years and the failure by the government to conduct any independent assessments of the Agreement, despite serious concerns raised by the Productivity Commission. This deal was cobbled together behind closed doors and it was created by big business, for big business. It is not surprising that such a process has been met with deep scepticism from the Australian public. The Greens believe that the archaic and secretive process of treaty negotiation needs to be redesigned so that the Australian people can be at the centre of any future deals.
The Greens are deeply concerned by the stronger monopoly rights this Agreement will secure for large multi-national pharmaceutical companies. These protected monopolies will delay patient access to cheaper medicines, such as those required to treat cancer, and drive up the cost to Australian consumers.
The Greens are further concerned that the TPP includes rights for foreign companies to sue the Australian government in international tribunals if they can argue that a change in domestic law or policy at a national, state or local level will potentially ‘harm’ their investment, known as Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS). The Greens note that the Productivity Commission have recommended that the Australian Government avoid the inclusion of ISDS provisions in any trade agreements that grant foreign investors in Australia substantive or procedural rights greater than those enjoyed by Australian investors.
The TPP contains inadequate protection for labour rights and migrant workers in accordance with recognised international standards and deeply inadequate and enforceable environmental standards.
The Greens note that United States of America President-elect has stated that he does not intend to ratify the TPP on behalf of America. Given that US Congress will not ratify the TPP, the Australian Greens contend that there is no point in Australia ratifying this Agreement or passing enacting legislation.
Conclusion: The Australian Greens do not support the ratification of the TPP. The Greens are troubled by the secretive manner under which the TPP was negotiated and deeply concerned regarding key components of the Agreement. These include the predicted increase in cost to Australians regarding essential pharmaceuticals, the ability for large multi-national corporations to sue Australian governments, poor labour rights protections and a lack of enforceable commitments to key international environmental agreements. This deal was negotiated to afford the greatest possible advantage to major, international corporations and was not designed to help regular Australians. Any moves towards ratifying the TPP would be counter to Australia’s interests and should be opposed.
Recommendation 1: The Australian Greens recommend that no measures are taken towards Australia’s acceptance or ratification of the TPP.
Recommendation 2: The Australian Greens recommend that the current trade agreement process is amended to allow for greater transparency, including independent assessments of proposed agreements, greater opportunity for community consultation and a final ratification process whereby Parliament votes on the whole text of agreements, rather than just implementing legislation.
Senator Sarah Hanson-Young