The Pirate Party wishes to draw attention to the TPP ministerial meeting to occur tomorrow, 25 October 2014, and continues to reiterate the demand that the draconian text be made public.

Tomorrow, 25 October 2014, Sydney will host a meeting of trade ministers from countries currently negotiating the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP). The aim of the meeting is to conclude the “basic elements of the agreement before the end of the year,” despite the last four years of negotiations being fraught with fundamental disagreements. Of enormous public concern is the lack of transparency surrounding what is intended to be a comprehensive agreement: at this point in time, no drafts have been officially made available for public comment or consideration.

“Recent leaks[1] show the negotiators have learned nothing from the public outcry over previous leaks. The negotiators are pushing ahead with paradigm-shifting intellectual property provisions in the interests of entrenched American corporations, going above the sovereign parliaments of their own nations. Once the document is signed, it is very unlikely to be changed, and very likely to be waved through Parliament with limited oversight. This is legislation through the backdoor; corporate capture of democracy,” commented Brendan Molloy, Pirate Party President.

“It is beyond time that the text was made public. We have seen the content of it through leaks, and what we have seen would have a significantly negative impact on everything from freedom of expression, access to knowledge and access to medicine[2], all in the interests of American corporations. This agreement is not in the national interest.”

“Australia should not be sacrificing a digital future for short term gains in mining and agriculture.”

There is presently no expected completion for the agreement, with the deadline constantly being pushed back. Once finished, it will be signed by representatives of the negotiating countries, and be ratified by the Australian Government at some point after that. The Joint Standing Committee on Treaties will conduct an inquiry into the TPP and make recommendations to the Government, however Parliament is not required to approve the Agreement (but may be required to pass new legislation in order to maintain any new obligations Australia receives). The Pirate Party urges all concerned Australians to submit to the Committee when the inquiry is announced.

[1] https://www.wikileaks.org/tpp-ip2/
[2] http://digital.org.au/content/breaking-leak-controversial-tpp-ip-chapter-shows-us-still-pushing-draconian-copyright

The Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security (PJCIS) has recommended that Parliament pass the Counter-Terrorism Legislation Amendment (Foreign Fighters) Bill 2014, despite acknowledging the inadequate amount of time given for public consultation[1]. The Committee recommended a number of amendments that primarily concern improving oversight of the additional powers being granted to law enforcement and intelligence agencies, but also clarifying certain terms and reducing the allowable period for detention without notification and delayed notification search warrants. However, no substantial amendments have been recommended.

Pirate Party President Brendan Molloy commented: “Increased oversight will cushion the impact of these reforms, but not in any significant way. We’re still going to see people being detained for up to two hours without notification of family members or other persons. We’re still going to have search warrants where the occupier of the premises won’t be informed that their premises have been searched for up to 12 months afterwards. We’re still going to have people visiting certain areas declared guilty until proven innocent. And we’re still going to see the thresholds for law enforcement and intelligence agency action reduced.

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A recent leak of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP) draft intellectual property chapter shows that negotiators remain divided over key issues[1]. The leak reveals that in May 2014 there was limited agreement on the intellectual property provisions, despite the negotiations being ongoing since at least 2008. The TPP is notorious for the secrecy of its negotiations and the exclusion of the public despite it being widely known that some corporate lobbyists have had access to draft texts and a strong hand in influencing negotiating positions.

Of concern are draft provisions that would substantially increase the cost of medical treatment, both domestically and in other participating countries, which demonstrates the strong lobbyist influence on the negotiations. Other provisions may expand Internet service provider surveillance of subscribers, expand what can be patented, and seriously undermine competition by strengthening monopoly rights.

“It is time for the game of secrecy to end. The negotiations seem to be going around in circles and be contrary to the stated positions of the negotiating nations. They fly in the face of expert opinions, and consultations thus far have been little more than shams,” said Brendan Molloy, Pirate Party President.

“Negotiating in this fundamentally undemocratic way will see the involved nations saddled with obligations designed by lobbyists for the benefit of lobbyists, and by the time we find out exactly what those obligations are it’ll already be signed and imposed upon us,” Mr Molloy continued.

Of enormous concern is the removal of an article that would ensure Article 31 of the TRIPS Agreement remained fully effective. Article 31 regards compulsory licences of patents to ensure national emergencies in developing countries can be effectively managed. Limiting the effect of Article 31 is likely to have extremely negative effects on managing local and global epidemics[2].

[1] https://www.citizen.org/tpp-ip-wikileaks
[2] http://keionline.org/node/2108

The Pirate Party today made a brief submission to the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security’s Inquiry into the Counter-Terrorism Legislation Amendment (Foreign Fighters) Bill 2014. The Pirate Party criticised the length of the Bill and its explanatory memorandum, as well as the short timeframe afforded for public comment[1].

Mozart Olbrycht-Palmer, author of the Pirate Party’s submission, commented: “Combined, the Foreign Fighters Bill and its explanatory memorandum are more than 350 pages long. For something as simple as preventing the handful of Australians allegedly heading overseas to fight and train with terrorist organisations from leaving or returning, these amendments are extremely broad. This Bill covers not just migration and passport restrictions, but also extends the powers of ASIO operatives and reduces judicial oversight. It even amends social security legislation. Our submission protested the enormity of the Bill and the nine days provided for the public to make submissions.

“Railroading such broad legislation through Parliament and token public consultation is fundamentally undemocratic. We are losing rights and freedoms before we realise what’s going on.”

This is the second of three waves of expected national security reforms and the process of presenting an enormous bill with minimal time for public consultation has been repeated. It is anticipated that the Government will soon present legislation that will introduce a data retention regime.

[1] http://pirateparty.org.au/media/submissions/PPAU_2014_PJCIS_Foreign_Fighters_Bill.pdf

In response to the Senate’s passing of the National Security Legislation Amendment Bill (No. 1) 2014 last Thursday, the Pirate Party has updated its policies to specifically oppose the Bill and support its repeal in the likely case where the lower house also approves it in the coming days[1].

The Bill makes major amendments to the ASIO Act, giving ASIO the ability to access, modify, copy and delete information on computers. ASIO may also be able to apply for a computer access warrant broad enough to cover every device on the Internet at once. Other amendments will introduce tough sentences for journalists and whistleblowers who report or disclose sensitive information, even if it is in the public interest.

The legislation also grants blanket immunity from prosecution for many illegal acts undertaken as necessary under a “special intelligence operation”, effectively granting ASIO unprecedented powers without the necessary checks and balances required by a legitimate liberal democracy.

Party President Brendan Molloy commented: “Labor has farcically waved through some of the most onerous legislation of the last decade with little more than a rubber stamp, as the Liberal Party whips up yet another fear-based storm of ‘national unity’ with insufficient evidential basis. This legislation criminalises journalism and whistleblowing, regardless of the public interest, while effectively granting ASIO agents the power to do anything they please.

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