July 9, 2015: The Daily Telegraph hosts a debate between Union Secretary Michael O'Connor and Trade Minister Andrew Robb about the impact on jobs and workers' rights of the increases in temporary workers permitted by the terms of the China FTA.
July 8, 2015: Recent leaked documents of the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations indicate that at the next meeting of Trade Ministers in Hawaii on July 28-31 the US will be still be pushing for 8-12 years data protection for biologics (the next generation of drugs). This might be good for the profits of big US pharma companies but it will make medicines more expensive for Australians.
July 7, 2015: This Essential Media poll released today shows voters across the political spectrum reject the inclusion of ISDS clauses in the TPP. The question was specific to the TPP but could also be an indication of views about ISDS in the China FTA.
Overall, 61% think that foreign companies should not be able to sue the Government for losses due to changes in policy and only 10% think they should.
68% of Greens voters, 66% of Liberal/National voters and 58% of Labor voters think they should not be able to sue.
June 29-30, 2015: Following the Productivity Commission report and the Senate report into the trade agreement process and despite the government's PR defence of the TPP, Peter Martin in the The Sydney Morning Herald, Ian Verrender in the ABC National News blog The Drum and Ken Davidson in the Melbourne Age have criticised TPP secrecy, the impacts of TPP proposals for stronger monopolies on medicines, copyright and foreign investor rights to sue governments, and questioned whether the TPP will deliver trade benefits. Australian Super Chair Heather Ridout has also slammed ISDS in the TPP.
June 29, 2015: On June 25, the Government sent a document to many journalists entitled “TPP: Myths and Realities”.
This document creates straw people, misrepresenting the claims of critics and failing to address substantial criticisms including those from the Productivity Commission which were published on the same day.
AFTINET Media Release June 26, 2015
“The analysis of the Report of the Senate Inquiry into the Australian trade agreement process released today reflects the views of the overwhelming majority of submissions criticizing the current secret and undemocratic process and calling for the text of trade agreements to be released for public and parliamentary scrutiny before they are signed.But unfortunately the Report’s actual recommendations, while improving on the current process, fall short of full transparency,” said Dr Patricia Ranald, Coordinator of the Australian Fair Trade and Investment Network (AFTINET)
24th June 2015:Peter Martin reports in the Sydney Morning Herald that The Productivity Commission has launched a scathing attack on Australia's latest series of free trade agreements, saying they grant legal rights to foreign investors not available to Australians, expose the government to potentially large unfunded liabilities and add extra costs on businesses attempting to comply with them.
The Productivity Commission is a statutory body which does research on economic policy and is generally in favour of free trade.
Leaks about the text of the Trans Pacific Partnership suggested it will "include obligations on pharmaceutical price determination arrangements in Australia and other TPP members of an uncertain character and intent... The history of intellectual property arrangements being addressed in preferential trade deals is not good."
Media Release June 24, 2015
US Senate paves the way for TPP Fast Track as UN Human Rights experts demand release of TPP text and human rights impact study
“A procedural vote in the U.S. Senate has paved the way for the TPP Fast Track Bill to be passed through the Congress this week. This means the U.S. Congress will not be able to amend the text of the TPP. A date is then likely be set for the long delayed meeting of TPP Trade Ministers to resume their secret negotiations to try to finalise the deal,” Dr Patricia Ranald Coordinator of the Australian Fair Trade and Investment Network (AFTINET) said today.
“But community opposition to the TPP in many countries has been reinforced by a call from 10 United Nations Human Rights Rapporteurs for a halt to further TPP negotiations and release of the full text so that proper human rights impact assessments can be done. They say the TPP could have detrimental effects on human rights to health, clean environment, improved labour standards and an independent judiciary".
Media Release June 19, 2015
“After various procedural manoeuvres, part of the Fast Track bill package was narrowly passed overnight in the US House of Representatives, and has now gone back to the Senate. But the part of the package which supports workers who lose their jobs through trade agreements has been dropped from the Bill, which makes it less likely to succeed in the Senate,” Dr Patricia Ranald Coordinator of the Australian Fair Trade and Investment Network (AFTINET) said today.