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Crikey says: what are they hiding on the TPP?

Was the Tropfest winner homophobic? The consensus seems to be yes. Crikey goes to Australia’s first same-sex weddings. Bernard Keane on the tough government decisions around Qantas and Holden. Inside Clive Palmer’s wacky leaders’ forum in Queensland. The traffic jam on top of the world. And dancing for Nelson Mandela in Durban.

The more we learn about the secretly negotiated Trans-Pacific Partnership treaty, the more concerned we should be about the agenda of the United States government to remove international barriers not to trade, but to the profits of US corporations. On intellectual property and copyright, pharmaceuticals, the right to litigate against policy changes and many other areas, the TPP represents the wishlist of some of the US’ most powerful industries, aimed at removing the ability of other governments to regulate industry, reduce spending and protect their own citizens.

Trade and Investment Minister Andrew Robb has confirmed Australians will not be permitted to see the TPP treaty until after the government has signed it, and also acknowledged it is likely to include ”investor-state dispute settlement provisions” — that is, the ability for multinational companies to litigate to prevent governments from making policy changes that disadvantage them.

Labor has criticised the secrecy surrounding the TPP but that is the height of hypocrisy — the Gillard and Rudd governments could have made the draft text available to Australians but refused to do so for fear of offending the US, which had demanded it be kept secret from the public while US companies were given repeated opportunities to examine the drafts and urge US negotiators to pursue tougher demands.

Based on the most recent draft made available by WikiLeaks, the TPP represents a clear threat to Australia’s national interest — and to those of virtually every signatory except the US. A full debate on the document should proceed well ahead of any signing by Australia.

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The government is creating enemies in its first weeks: the ABC, our regional neighbours and whistleblowers. Crikey editor Jason Whittaker talks to politics editor Bernard Keane on recasting the relationships  —  for the better and the worse. Stream it or download here.

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  • 1
    JennyWren
    Posted Monday, 9 December 2013 at 1:28 pm | Permalink

    Seriously why is it up to the much maligned Wikileaks to put its money where its mouth is and offer a crowdsourced reward for insiders to leak the document (as they did). Where are the rest of the media in asking the hard questions about it? Why are we only hearing about it through the actions of Advaaz, Change.org, sumofus etc etc? Even Crikey appears to be piggybacking the activism of social media. What happened to investigative journalism? Is it only pertaining to what happened in the past (aka ICAC or Child sex abuse in Catholic church)?

  • 2
    JennyWren
    Posted Monday, 9 December 2013 at 1:29 pm | Permalink

    From Twitter just now: We will shortly release the negotiation positions for every country, on every issue of the 13 #TPP chapters coming out of the last round.
    Bravo Wikileaks as usual!

  • 3
    Phillip Monk
    Posted Monday, 9 December 2013 at 1:43 pm | Permalink

    Labor may be hypocrites but at least they did oppose ISDS clauses, which is where a lot of the devil in free trade agreements lies. Agreeing to ISDS processes is just inviting rent-seeking behaviour.

  • 4
    Bill Hilliger
    Posted Monday, 9 December 2013 at 2:23 pm | Permalink

    Many people say don’t worry Mr A Robb the hardnosed coalition negotiator will sell us down the gurgler, we can count on it.

  • 5
    JennyWren
    Posted Monday, 9 December 2013 at 2:43 pm | Permalink

    Can’t wait to see Crikey’s analysis of the country position’s spreadsheet…………

  • 6
    dazza
    Posted Monday, 9 December 2013 at 3:07 pm | Permalink

    TPP are in in corporate interest not public interest, so thats why the secrecy?
    When WikiLeaks published the secret draft chapter of Trans-Pacific Partnership, they said: If you read, write, publish, think, listen, dance, sing or invent; if you farm or consume food; if you’re ill now or might one day be ill, the TPP has you in its crosshairs.”

  • 7
    AR
    Posted Monday, 9 December 2013 at 3:15 pm | Permalink

    Fair trade is the antithesis of free trade. At the moment Oz can’t dig our resources out of the ground quickly enough but, once the many over investments in mining come on line there will be a glut. The watch the fur fly.

  • 8
    Justin Kerr
    Posted Monday, 9 December 2013 at 3:23 pm | Permalink

    I don’t doubt the US government’s ability to argue and defend their corner in negotiations: we should envy them for that. But if the TPP is as bad and one sided as the conduct of the negotiators and the previews of the text suggest - and I wouldn’t be surprised it is - what on earth is in it for the Australian and other governments to entertain the treaty as much as they have done? Rather than throw it out. There seems as little in this for the Australian people as for the Anerican people, but what is the carrot for our government and businesses?

  • 9
    Matt Hardin
    Posted Monday, 9 December 2013 at 3:48 pm | Permalink

    It’s pretty obvious where the incentive is. The threat of being cut off from US trade is enough for most countries to cave…

  • 10
    Phillip Monk
    Posted Monday, 9 December 2013 at 4:48 pm | Permalink

    The carrot being dangled would be greater access to markets for primary industry and resources, which is where most of our big business is, and therefore our domestic lobbyists would be in favour of it. As there’s no lobby for single mums, suburban battlers or old-aged pensioners in Canberra they’re the ones who are going to be shafted by this.

  • 11
    CML
    Posted Monday, 9 December 2013 at 5:49 pm | Permalink

    Crikey - why are you having a go at Rudd and Gillard? At least they had no intention of signing this disasterous document with the ISDS clauses in it.
    At least you have discovered what is going on with this TPP business at last. We need more info, now that Wikileaks has released some of the documents.
    I hope you will write further articles in the near future. Everyone in this country needs to know how the TPP will affect their lives now and in the future.

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