July 17, 2015 A cross-factional group of unions is demanding stronger ALP policy against the China FTA and the TPP at the ALP conference on July 24. They want the ALP to block implementing legislation for trade agreements which allow large numbers of temporary overseas workers without testing whether local workers are available and which contain foreign investor rights to sue governments over changes in domestic legislation (ISDS). Read the media release here
Melbourne: Rally outside the ALP Conference on the China FTA and TPP, Friday July 24, 8 am, Melbourne Convention Centre, near the Polly Woodside ship.
Brisbane: Rally outside the China FTA Parliamentary hearings, Monday ,July 27, 12 noon, Commonwealth Law Courts, North Quay
Adelaide: Public meeting on the China FTA and TPP, Tuesday, July 28, 7pm, Ingle Farm Recreation Centre, Cnr Roopena St & Beovich Rd, Ingle Farm.
Sydney: Rally outside the China FTA Parliamentary hearings, Friday, July 31, 12 noon, NSW Parliament House, Macquarie St, Sydney,
July 8, 2015: See Waleed Aly's satirical take on the TPP on Channel 10's' The Project
July 12, 2015: Critical TPP discussion with Queensland University of Technology's Professor Matthew Rimmer, Greens Senator Peter Whish-Wilson and Melbourne University's Professor Tania Voon on ABC Radio National Sunday Extra
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."