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.

Crikey Calling

Crikey Calling is independent media for independent minds – in handy podcast form! Join the Crikey crew for a lively (if somewhat wonky) look behind the scenes of politics and power in Australia.

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.