AFTINET disappointed at Senate majority approval of TPP-11

Media Release 17 October 2018 

“AFTINET is deeply disappointed that the Senate looks set to pass the TPP-11 implementing legislation,” AFTINET Convener Dr Patricia Ranald said today.

“Progressive civil society groups, including public health, environment, aid and development groups, churches and unions have played a leading role in exposing the dangers of the TPP-11 in what has been an eight-year public debate.”

“This has been reflected in the opposition to the TPP-11 from the Greens and Centre Alliance, ALP policy against many TPP-11 provisions, and a fierce internal ALP debate. We thank all parliamentarians who have spoken out against the TPP.”

“We remain deeply disappointed that the ALP caucus majority decided to support the TPP-11 implementing legislation." 

“The TPP-11 is not mainly about traditional trade issues like tariffs. It has an unprecedented 30 chapters, including ones on temporary workers, trade in services, financial services, telecommunications, electronic commerce, competition policy, state owned enterprises and regulatory coherence. Most of these treat regulation as if it were a tariff to be frozen and then reduced over time, and not to be increased.”

“This structure suits global companies but restricts future governments from regulating in the public interest. Our experience of the global financial crisis, the banking royal commission, escalating climate change and the exploitation of vulnerable temporary workers tells us that governments need to have the capacity to change regulation in the public interest.”

The TPP-11 also includes special legal rights for foreign investors to bypass national courts and sue governments in unfair international tribunals if they can argue that a change in law or policy harmed their investment, known as Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS).

The agreement will also mean increased numbers of vulnerable temporary migrant workers from six TPP countries without first testing if local workers are available.

“We recognise that Labor has said it will attempt to remove ISDS and reinstate labour market testing for temporary workers in the TPP-11 if it wins government. But in practice such changes will be difficult to achieve,” said Dr Ranald.

“We welcome Labor’s foreshadowed legislation to ban such harmful provisions in future trade agreements.”

Contact Dr Patricia Ranald 0419 695 841