August 26, 2021: The Joint Standing Committee on Treaties (JSCOT) has finally released its Report 193 on the trade agreement process in Australia, 12 months after public hearings were completed. There has been no official explanation of this long delay.
August 17, 2020: Dr Patricia Ranald’s Conversation article today argues for an end to secrecy and a more open and democratically accountable trade process. AFTINET will give evidence on August 24 to a Joint Standing Committee on Treaties hearing into the trade agreement process.
July 8, 2020: This inquiry by the Joint Standing Committee on Treaties is the result of negotiations between the ALP and the government about passing the enabling legislation for the Indonesia FTA.
The terms of reference are broad enough for a public debate about the secrecy of trade negotiations, the lack of independent assessment of trade deals and the need for change.
November 27, 2017: The Australian Foreign Policy White Paper misses the opportunity to support a more democratic trade process and to address concerns from many community organisations about the use of secretive trade deals for domestic policy decisions. Trade deals should be subject to open democratic parliamentary processes.
17 March 2016:
JSCOT has an important role in scrutinising our trade agreements, but it is very limited, because the committee does not see the text until after the decision to sign it is made by Cabinet, and cannot change it.
3 February 2016: The signing ceremony on February 4 in Auckland for the Trans-Pacific Partnership is mainly a public relations exercise, writes AFTINET Convener Dr Patricia Ranald for the Sydney Morning Herald, The Age and the Canberra Times
Read her full article here.
Sunday, May 3, 2015: Dr Patricia Ranald's article in the Sydney Morning Herald, Canberra Times and Melbourne Age supports release of trade agreement texts before they are signed and a Parliamentary vote on the whole text of trade agreements.
The Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations have been widely criticised for their secrecy. Under the current process, the details of the deal were kept secret until after the text was agreed, and Cabinet, not Parliament makes the decision to sign the agreement. Parliament does not get to vote on the whole text, only on the implementing legislation.