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Why is the Trans-Pacific Partnership a covert operation?

Why is the Trans-Pacific Partnership a covert operation?

November 21, 2013

Federal Senator John Madigan has called on Prime Minister Tony Abbott and Minister for Trade Andrew Robb to come clean on details of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, likening the current secrecy surrounding the agreement to that of a covert operation.

This afternoon Senator Madigan will pose a number of questions to the Senate Estimates’ Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Legislation Committee relating to the reasons for the ongoing secrecy surrounding TPP negotiations.

“It is symbolic of this government’s transparency that TPP information in the public domain is from leaked documents, most of which have painted the agreement in a far from positive light from an Australian perspective,” Senator Madigan said.

This secrecy was clearly evident in late October when DFAT rescinded the invitations of several journalists to attend a TPP briefing.

One of Senator Madigan’s key concerns is the possible inclusion of Investor-State Dispute Settlement provisions, which would give a foreign investor the ability to sue the Australian government if it were to adopt policies affecting that investment.

“What has it come to if we give a foreign entity the ability to dictate Australian policy?” Senator Madigan asks.

“Do any aspects of the TPP interfere or go against any of Australia’s domestic laws and requirements? And if so, which ones? And what, if any, labour rights are included in the agreement?

“There have been issues raised about US pharmaceutical companies being able to strengthen their patent rights. What impact will this have on Australian pharmaceutical companies and affordable medicines in our region?

“These are just a few of the many questions that Australians deserve an answer to.”

According to DFAT, Australia’s decision to participate in the TPP followed an extensive public consultation process, citing widespread support for Australian participation.

“I find it interesting that DFAT can claim widespread support for the TPP when there isn’t even widespread knowledge of the details contained within the agreement,” Senator Madigan said.

“It’s time to end the secrecy and tell us what’s really going on.”

ENDS

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