A separate independent review should assess the Australian government processes for establishing negotiating mandates to incorporate intellectual property provisions in international trade agreements. Trade negotiations should be informed by an independent and transparent analysis of the costs and benefits to Australia of any proposed intellectual property provisions. Such an analysis should be undertaken and published before negotiations are concluded. There's one recommendation from the Harper competition policy review that the government is already ignoring -- indeed, treating with contempt -- on intellectual property and free trade agreements.

There's now a clear consensus among Australia's independent competition bodies, that Australia has acted against its own interests in the past in caving in to US demands on intellectual property in free trade agreements. It was the Productivity Commission -- which has explored in detail how pointless much-vaunted "free trade agreements" actually are -- that first argued that the IP provisions of the Australia-US free trade agreement (a completely inapt name, but we'll stick with it) were damaging to Australia. The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission told the Harper review it "considers that caution should be exercised when entering international treaties or agreements that may have the effect of significantly limiting the ability of the Australian Government to make substantial and effective reforms to IP regulation."