Send an email to the Opposition Trade Spokesperson
Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade
Dear Ms Bishop,
I am concerned about the Opposition policy on the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA), a free trade agreement currently being negotiated between Australia, the US and ten key countries in the Asia-Pacific region. The agenda is being heavily influenced by US corporations which regard many areas of Australian public interest regulation as barriers to trade.
I am especially concerned about your statement quoted in the Australian Financial Review on April 2, 2013, indicating that you are prepared to negotiate ISDS proposals which would allow investors the right to sue governments if a law or policy harms their investment. Agreeing to this proposal would reduce the capacity of government to regulate in essential areas of public interest, including public health and environmental protection.
This would mean more law suits like the Philip Morris tobacco company’s current attempt to use an obscure Hong Kong-Australia investment agreement to sue the Australian government for damages over its plain packaging legislation, which had bipartisan support.
The Howard Coalition Government rejected the proposal that foreign investors should have the right to sue the Australian government in the Australia-United States Free Trade Agreement. This decision to reject ISDS was widely supported by the Australian people, and is even more important today because cases like the Philip Morris case have become more common. For example, the US Lone Star Mining company is currently using ISDS provisions in the North American Free Trade Agreement to sue the Canadian Quebec provincial government because it has suspended shale gas fracking pending a study of its environmental impact. Many Australian farmers are supporting similar environmental impact policies at state government level.
I ask you to adopt a policy to reject ISDS. I also ask you to adopt a policy that rejects any proposals which would increase patent rights on medicines and increase the price of medicines, reduce Australian media content and Australian content in government purchasing, remove labelling of genetically engineered food, and grant increased rights to copyright holders at the expense of consumers.
I ask you to adopt policies to support enforceable workers’ rights and environmental protections in the TPPA, and to release the text of the agreement for public and Parliamentary discussion before it is signed by Cabinet.