Points for submission to the Senate inquiry on the TPP-11: due May 31
Your submission will be most effective if it is in your own words, and related to your experience. Below are some points you can use.
Submission to the TPP-11 Inquiry
I am concerned about the TPP-11, which has been rebadged as the Comprehensive Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP). I urge you not to endorse the implementing legislation for the TPP-11.
Despite the name change, the TPP-11 still has 30 chapters and 6000 pages of legally binding rules which suit global corporations but mostly restrain future governments from regulating in the public interest. Only 22 clauses have been suspended, but not removed, pending the US re-joining the deal, and many harmful clauses remain, as listed below.
- Bad for democracy: the TPP-11 gives special rights to foreign investors to bypass national courts and sue governments for millions of dollars in unfair international tribunals over changes to domestic laws, even if those laws are in the public interest. This is known as ISDS. Global companies have recently sued governments over medicine prices, protection of the environment, protection of Indigenous land rights and even a rise in the minimum wage.
- The European Court of Justice has recently ruled that ISDS undermines national legal autonomy and is incompatible with EU law, and US Trade Representative Lighthizer has said that the US wants to withdraw from ISDS arrangements in the North American Free Trade Agreement because they are a threat to US domestic laws.
- Bad for workers’ rights: the labour rights chapter is not fully enforceable in the same way as the rest of the agreement. The TPP-11 also has provisions for more vulnerable temporary migrant workers from Vietnam, Malaysia, Japan, Canada, Mexico and Chile without first testing if local workers are available. This is contrary to the government’s own claims that it has reintroduced such testing.
- Bad for access to essential services: chapters on trade in services which freeze regulation of services at current levels could restrict future governments from responding to change and regulating essential services like vocational education, energy services and financial services, even if there are demonstrated market failures.
- Bad for the environment: the environment chapter is not fully enforceable in the same way as the rest of the agreement and does not mention climate change. Foreign corporations can bypass national courts and sue governments for millions in unfair international tribunals over environmental laws.
- No clear economic benefits: Australia already has free trade agreements with all but two of the other TPP-11 countries, and without access to the US market, any economic benefits are likely to be even less than they were under the original deal.
The 22 suspended clauses are mostly about medicine and copyright monopolies. Other governments had only reluctantly agreed to US proposals to increase monopolies on biologic medicines and delay access to cheaper medicines, and for longer copyright monopolies, so they could gain access to the US market. Some of these clauses have been suspended, pending the US re-joining the deal. But the intellectual property chapter still reinforces existing monopolies on medicines and restricts the ability of governments to change such regulation in future, for example to reduce monopolies on medicines. All of the suspended clauses could be restored in future if the US rejoins, without further parliamentary scrutiny.