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Rally at OceanaGold Melbourne office: Fri 29 July

 Many AFTINET supporters will know that Australian mining company OceanaGold is using ISDS provisions in a trade agreement to sue El Salvador for over $300 million because it will not issue a mining permit in an area crucial to the water security of the densely populated country. You can read more about the Water Not Gold campaign here.

For three years Melbourne activists have protested outside OceanaGold’s offices every month, and a decision on the case is due to be handed down in August so the time is critical to send a message of solidarity.

Support the people of El Salvador in their fight for justice against corporate greed and come this Friday at 12pm outside OceanaGold's office at 357 Collins Street, Melbourne.

Privatisation creates unregulated monopolies: ACCC chairman

28 July 2016

Privatisation, deregulation and unbounded trade liberalisation are key pillars of the neoliberal economic agenda. This agenda is increasingly being questioned on both sides of politics. So-called FTAs regularly include competition, investment and procurement chapters which push for privatisation.

Most recently, chairman of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission Rod Sims - a longtime proponent of privatisation - is now saying "stop the privatisation". Read the full article here.

TPP provisions 'questionable', says Productivity Commission

26 July 2016

The Trans-Pacific Partnership has provisions of “questionable benefit”, says the Productivity Commission, citing the investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) clause allowing foreign corporations to sue the Australian government if they think the government has introduced or changed laws that hurt their commercial interests.

In its annual trade and assistance review, the Productivity Commission also expressed concern about term of copyright and noted the fact that the deal's future in the US is uncertain.

Read the full article in The Guardian here.

Critical voices as VP Biden pitches TPP in Australia

20 July 2016

US Vice President Joe Biden was in Australia this week talking up the TPP, despite the deal being unlikely to make it through the US Congress. At the same time, Australian Trade Minister Steve Ciobo was in the US, trying to shore up support for the deal there.

AFTINET Convenor Dr Patricia Ranald told the media “The TPP is so unpopular in the US that Australian Ministers are being recruited to lobby for it there, while US officials are talking it up here, urging the Australian Parliament to pass it before the US does."

Listen to the radio interview  and read our media release here.

The Government’s trade agenda: Seven deals to keep an eye on

Turnbull government claims about jobs from ‘export’ trade agreements have been dealt a blow by the election results, which have returned record numbers of third parties and independents, most of whom are sceptics about secretive trade deals which expand corporate power and limit national government ability to regulate in the public interest. This will expand critical debate and campaigns as the Government pushes its trade agenda.

We have summarised the progress and major issues of seven current trade deals here.

US Senator accuses Australia of trying to ‘steal’ US medicine patents in TPP

15 July 2016

A pro-trade US senator and US Senate Finance Committee chairman has been holding out on passing the TPP because he wants it to include even stronger monopoly rights on medicines.
 
Senator Orrin Hatch says that Australia "wants to steal US medicine patents” by refusing to agree to a huge 12-year data protection term for biologics medicines.
 
These are lifesaving and very expensive medicines being used to treat serious diseases like cancer, and each year of delay before generic versions can become available not only will cost our healthcare system millions but will also ultimately mean that many patients in need around the world will miss out.

The TPP will not pass US Congress this year: Senate majority leader

14 July 2016

US Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConell says the TPP legislation will not pass Congress this year and that the new President should deal with it in 2017.  He said that the presidential campaign had made it virtually impossible to pass the Trans-Pacific Partnership in the “lame duck” session after the November elections. Read the full article.

Does the new Senate mean the TPP is dead?

6 July 2016

“One thing that is certain after Saturday’s election, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is dead, and along with it the Coalition’s economic agenda and narrative,” writes The Australia Institute’s Richard Denniss in New Matilda.

He predicts that the new cross-bench Senators, including Nick Xenophon, Jacqui Lambie and Pauline Hanson will oppose the TPP and other free trade deals because they cost Australian manufacturing workers jobs. Read his piece here.

If the Coalition does form Government, the votes of these Senators will be needed to pass legislation when Labor and the Greens are opposed. We know that the Greens and most other cross-benchers will vote against the TPP implementing legislation. The TPP also contradicts Labor policy, but they have not yet made a decision about the TPP legislation.

Denniss is optimistic that it’s unlikely that Labor will “pivot to the right” on economic management after Shorten’s shock success. He argues:

“So while in theory the ALP could offer the Coalition a lifeline for the ratification of its trade deals, the reality is that such a display of bipartisan contempt for the public’s hostility to trickle-down trade policies would be of even greater benefit to the new cross benchers than Turnbull’s decision to both change the Senate voting rules and call a DD.”

AFTINET has shown TPP’s many downsides for workers’ rights, public health and democracy. But we can’t be complacent, and need to keep up pressure for Labor to vote against the TPP’s implementing legislation.

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