The Trans Pacific Partnership – a massive new free trade agreement where your vote may no longer count as a way of stopping unwanted CSG, coal mining, deep sea mining and other impacts by transnational corporations
Who would want an Australia in which major transnational corporations can sue the Australian government in off-shore tribunals – away from our legal system and democratic process - for making laws which are aimed at protecting water quality, environment and farmland from inappropriate CSG and coal operations?
Who would want Australia to sign an international free trade agreement which could potentially wreck our Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme, severely restrict our free use of the Internet and curtail our democratic rights?
Jane Kelsey, Professor of Law at Auckland University, has said: 'This locks the door on electoral democracy'.
It appears that, if elected to government, the Federal Coalition may be willing to go along with this.
The Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) is a massive free trade agreement currently under negotiation in high secrecy between Pacific Rim nations including Australia, Brunei, Chile, Singapore, Malaysia, New Zealand, Peru, the US, Vietnam, Canada and Mexico. Other nations, including Japan and possibly China, are set to join.
The TPPA includes provisions which, if agreed to by signatory nations, will give extraordinary powers to transnational corporations through Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) provisions. At the least level, these will put a 'chilling effect' on governments introducing new regulation around environment etc.
Fortunately the current Australian Government has steadfastly refused to agree to the inclusion in free trade agreements of ISDS provisions, in spite of great pressure from the US, transnational corporations and some sections of Australian industry.
However, the Federal Opposition has sent a clear message that, if elected, it will be willing to agree to investor state dispute settlement provisions in trade agreements in order to conclude a deal.