US could rewrite Australian Law after TPP signed

Media Release February 9, 2015

US Certification process could rewrite Australian laws even after Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is signed and legislated

“New evidence has emerged that the US blackmailed Australia into agreeing to additional changes to Australian copyright law after the Australia-US free trade agreement implementation legislation was passed in 2004. The US refused to finally ratify the agreement without additional changes which gave even more rights to copyright holders at the expense of consumers. The same process is likely to occur if the TPP is signed this year,” Dr Patricia Ranald, AFTINET Coordinator, said today.

“The TPP negotiations have missed many deadlines and dragged into 2015, partly because of community pressure on governments to resist US proposals which would require changes to domestic law in areas like affordable access to medicines, regulation of copyright and internet freedom, and regulation of local content in film and television,” said Dr Ranald.

“The United States also claims the right to vet and force changes to other countries’ TPP implementation legislation before it will allow the agreement to come into force. It did this with the Australia-US FTA, and with its agreements with Peru and South Korea. This is known as the Certification process,” said Dr Ranald.

“The briefing paper on the 2004 copyright law changes shows that the US government demanded the changes in November 2004 when the two governments were about to exchange formal letters for the ratification of the agreement, and made it clear that the agreement would not be ratified without the changes.  It records that the Australian Howard government agreed to push new legislation through.”

“The Parliamentary Library’s Bills Digests noted that changes effectively created additional obligations for Australia. The Senate legal and Constitutional legislation committee was given 24 hours to consider, hear submissions and report on the new bill,” explained Dr Ranald.

“This US ability to dictate Australian legislation after the agreement is signed is unacceptable and shows how the TPP would further undermines democracy and sovereignty. Governments should demand a guarantee of no US certification as a condition of the negotiations,“ said Dr Ranald.