Sign the Petition to stop investors like Clive Palmer from suing our government for billions over climate change policies

Background

Some international trade agreements allow foreign investors to sue the Australian government if a change in law or policy reduces their profits, even if the change protects public health or the environment. The process, known as Investor-State Dispute Settlement or ISDS, enables foreign investors to bypass national courts and sue governments for billions of dollars in secretive international tribunals. Labor’s policy is to exclude ISDS from future trade agreements, and review it in existing agreements, partly inspired by its experience of being sued by the Philip Morris Tobacco Company over its 2012 plain packaging law. 

Australian billionaire Clive Palmer has registered his mining company in Singapore and claimed to be a Singapore investor. He is using ISDS in two trade agreements with Singapore to sue the Australian government for $110 billion after a court refused his company coal mining permits for environmental reasons, including the mine’s contribution to increased carbon emissions. 

Palmer’s cases join a growing global list of ISDS cases from fossil fuel companies against government decisions to reduce carbon emissions. A recent United Nations Report concluded that ISDS is a “major obstacle to the urgent actions needed to address the planetary environmental and human rights crises.”

Our petition asks the Trade Minister to implement Labor policy to exclude ISDS from future trade agreements, and speed up its review in existing agreements with a clear timetable. You can donate to the camapign here.

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campaign@aftinet.org.au

Australian Legal Experts Call for Swift Removal of ISDS

11 July 2024: 62 Australian lawyers and legal scholars have issued an open letter urging the Australian government to swiftly implement its policy of excluding Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) provisions from current and future trade and investment agreements. 

The letter underscores current ISDS challenges, including multi-billion-dollar claims against Australia by figures such as Clive Palmer, undermining domestic laws protecting human rights and environmental standards, potentially impeding urgent climate action and the green energy transition.

UAE Trade Pact Undermines Australian Policy on Human Rights and Environment

July 10, 2024, AFTINET Media Release

A group of eight national organisations representing millions of Australians have issued a warning to the Trade Minister that a trade pact with the United Arab Emirates (UAE) contradicts government policy on labour rights and the environment.

The group comprises the Australian Fair Trade and Investment Network (AFTINET), Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU), Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF), Amnesty International Australia, ActionAid Australia, the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference Office of Justice Ecology and Peace, Family Planning Alliance Australia (FPAA) and the Uniting Church in Australia, Synod of Victoria and Tasmania.

EU exit from the Energy Charter Treaty shows need for global government action to end corporate rights to sue governments

June 28, 2024: Rachel Thrasher and Kyla Tienhaara report that the 27-member EU has taken the final step to leave the Energy Charter Treaty (ECT). Signed in 1994 by European and some Central Asian countries and Japan, the ECT was intended to encourage investment in energy but also contained Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) rules. These rules are found in some but not all trade and investment agreements.  They give special legal rights to international investors to claim billions in compensation if they can argue that a change in law or policy will reduce their future profits. Although ISDS has never been included in World Trade Organisation trade agreements, there are thousands of bilateral investment treaties and some regional trade agreements containing ISDS.

World Health Assembly agrees on Health Regulations but future pandemics agreement talks to continue for a year

June 6, 2024: The World Health Assembly of World Health Organisation (WHO) member governments this week agreed on changes to the International Health Regulations (IHR) but did not agree on a more general agreement about the management of future pandemics. Discussions on the broader agreement by the International Negotiating Body (INB) will continue until May 2025.

The meeting was still dominated by divisions between industrialised countries influenced by the views of pharmaceutical companies, and developing countries seeking flexibility on medicine monopolies and sharing of knowledge and technology to achieve more equitable access for low-income countries to pandemic-related products. The IHR agreement was reached by acknowledging these issues without much detail, but opposition to more equitable access from industrialised countries prevented consensus on the future pandemic agreement.

Open letter from experts supports Australian government action on value-added industries

June 5, 2024: An open letter signed by 73 academics, researchers and policy experts has supported the government’s Future Made in Australia policy for the development of value-added industries as an important change in direction from past neoliberal trade policies which prioritised exports of unprocessed minerals and agricultural products, leading to the decline of value-added manufacturing industries.

The letter defends this policy change from criticisms by neoliberal economists “trying to defend outdated laissez-faire thinking,” including trade policy which advocated that each country should specialise only in its most globally competitive exports and have no local policies for industry development and diversification.

Global trade system fails Australia on medicines, need for local production capacity

May 27, 2024: Australia's Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) lists 423 medicines in short supply to the Australian people. Twenty of these are at critically low levels, including medicines such as blood thinners, antibiotics and menopause hormone replacement therapy (HRT) patches.

These shortages were apparent before the COVID-19 pandemic but it was the pandemic which provoked some serious discussion.

In July 2023 a Medicines Supply Security Guarantee was introduced by the Labor government which required manufacturers to keep at least four or six months supply in Australia for key medicines, but apparently this is not being enforced. 

IPEF Pillar 2 Supply Chain agreement JSCOT inquiry: submissions due June 5

May 16, 2024:  The Indo Pacific Economic Framework Pillar 1 Supply Chain agreement was signed by 14 Indo-Pacific countries in November 2023, following release of the text in September.

This agreement has now been tabled in Parliament and will be reviewed by the Joint Standing Committee on Treaties for 20 Parliamentary sitting days before reporting in September or October.

The committee has called for submissions by Wednesday, June 5. The text of the agreement and the DFAT National Interest Analysis is at https://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Committees/Joint/Treaties/IPEFSupplyChain/Treaty_being_considered

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