Community Groups reply to Trade Minister claims of no opposition to TPP, ISDS and release of text

MEDIA RELEASE                                                                            

March 18, 2015

Community Groups reply to Trade Minister Robb’s claims of no opposition to the TPP and to ISDS, and that stakeholders can see the text of the TPP

"Trade Minister Robb made a number of inaccurate claims in an ABC interview on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), foreign investor rights to sue governments (ISDS) and release of the TPP text published yesterday. Below are some of these claims, our corrections to these claims and the evidence to support our corrections,” Dr Patricia Ranald, Coordinator of the Australian Fair Trade and Investment Network, said today.

  1. Mr Robb on ISDS: “What’s been said about the Korean one in seven months? Nothing. Not a peep. Not a cracker. … No letters to me. I’m the Minister. For goodness sake, I negotiated this thing. I think if there was to be a concern, they should be writing to me about this and I would be responding.”

Attached is a reply from Mr Robb’s office to a letter from community groups on June 30, 2014 to the whole Cabinet, including Mr Robb, opposing ISDS  in the Korea FTA

Petitions against ISDS in KAFTA and in all other trade agreements with a total of over 12,000 signatures were delivered to Mr Robb’s office in January 2014. The Joint Standing Committee on Treaties Inquiry into KA FTA, the Senate enquiry into KAFTA and the Senate Inquiry into a Bill seeking to exclude ISDS from all trade agreements received a total of over 11,000 submissions and letters opposing ISDS.

2. Mr Robb on TPP: “I don’t know that there is so much opposition to it (the TPP)…I get very little correspondence, I must say, in opposition to the TPP. No I wouldn’t say there is widespread opposition at all.

Attached is a reply from Mr Robb’s office to a letter sent on October 14, 2013 by the Public Health Association of Australia, asking the government not to agree to TPP proposals on ISDS.  Also attached is a letter from Mr Robb’s office replying to a letter endorsed by 46 community groups sent on 30th of June 2014 opposing ISDS and other proposals in the TPP. A letter sent on January 27, 2015 endorsed by 47 community groups is still awaiting a reply.

53) Mr Robb: “Australian stakeholders have been consulted. We talk to them about the text. We talk to them about the status of the negotiations. Just like in the US, it’s no different. We consult and we talk through what is being proposed…I totally reject that our industry stakeholders feel they are in the dark.”

This is contradicted by the submission of the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry to a current Senate Inquiry, which complains that, unlike the US system, stakeholders do not have access to the text during negotiations before it is signed, and argues for changes in Australia which would allow stakeholders to see the text before it is signed. Many other submissions argue for release of the text before it is signed.

“Rather than attempting to deny or discredit community opposition to proposals in the TPP, Mr Robb should respond by refusing to agree to such proposals in the negotiations, and by releasing the full text of the agreement before it is signed for community and Parliamentary scrutiny,” said Dr Ranald.


Contact Dr Patricia Ranald AFTINET Coordinator, 0419 695 841