The Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade References Committee Inquiry into
the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (the TPP) received submissions from
peak bodies and experts in trade. A substantial number of submissions raised
concerns regarding the TPP.
While recognising some of the concerns raised by these experts, the majority
committee report has fallen short of calling for a definitive and permanent
rejection of the implementation of the TPP. Given that the United States of
America have officially withdrawn from the TPP, it is both foolish and wasteful
to pretend it can still be implemented in any meaningful way. The Greens
contend that there is no point in Australia ratifying this Agreement or passing
enacting legislation and that any attempts to resurrect the TPP will result in
deeply flawed trade deals that do not advantage regular Australians. The Greens
are strongly opposed to the ratification of the TPP, either now or at any time
in the future, and recommend that the Government commit to formally and
permanently ending Australia's involvement with 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 of 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. It was created by big business, for big business, and 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 overhauled, so that the Australian
people can be at the centre of any future deals. The Greens recognise and
welcome the comments made in the majority committee report relating to this
issue, but feel they do not go far enough. Genuine reform of the process would
enable community consultation regarding agreements while they are being
negotiated and require Parliamentary confirmation of the full text of future
agreements, not just their enabling legislation.
With regard to the TPP specifically, the Greens are deeply concerned by
the stronger monopoly rights this Agreement would have secured 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 included 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
The TPP also contains inadequate protection for labour rights and
migrant workers in accordance with recognised international standards and
deeply inadequate and enforceable environmental standards.
The Australian Greens do not support the ratification of the TPP, either
now or at any time in the future and, given the United States withdrawal from
the TPP, recommend that the Australian Government commit to formally and
permanently ending Australia's involvement with the Agreement. The Greens are
troubled by the secretive manner in which the TPP was negotiated and are 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.
The Australian Greens recommend that no measures are taken towards
Australia's acceptance or ratification of the TPP.
The Australian Greens recommend that the Australian Government commit to
formally and permanently ending Australia's involvement with the TPP.
The Australian Greens recommend that legislation be passed, barring the
Australian Government from signing the country up to international trade
agreements that include ISDS clauses in future.
The Australian Greens recommend that the current trade agreement process
is amended to allow for greater transparency, including independent assessments
of proposed agreements, the opportunity for genuine community consultation
during the negotiation phase and a final ratification process whereby
Parliament votes on the whole text of agreements, rather than just implementing
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