Pirate Party Australia is disturbed by the decision of the Canadian and Mexican Governments to join in the opaque and fundamentally flawed Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) negotiations. The Party yet again calls for complete transparency and inclusion of civil society in the negotiation process. If these cannot be delivered, Australia must end its participation in TPPA negotiations.
“Based on the revelations contained within the recently leaked investment chapter and the draconian measures called for in the intellectual property chapter, the entire Agreement is a power grab by large corporations. They are taking advantage of the secrecy surrounding the negotiations to undermine democratic and legal principles that have taken centuries to establish,” said Simon Frew, Deputy President of Pirate Party Australia.
“The investment chapter is designed to establish a tribunal that allows foreign corporations to challenge any new law that could threaten its ‘investments.’ The definition of ‘investments’ is particularly concerning in that it goes far beyond tangible property, to include a wide range of things that have nothing to do with what is traditionally thought of as an investment. Safety laws, environmental laws, copyright laws, et cetera, would all be subject to challenge in a tribunal where corporations can sue for lost profits. The tribunal would be made up of lawyers, and sit above the courts, legislation and even constitutions of the signatory countries,” he continued.
Pirate Party Australia is astounded that although the Australian negotiators are exercising caution over the leaked draft, Canada and Mexico appear eager to sign up.
“To their credit, the leaked draft states that the Australian negotiators have refused to submit Australia to such a terrible power grab by multinational corporations, but it is astounding that following such revelations that Canada and Mexico would be so eager to sign up,” Mr Frew commented.
The Pirate Party has become increasingly concerned that little regard is shown for public consultation when new agreements are negotiated. The consultation processes undertaken by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade has so far been largely hollow, with no concrete engagement or commitment to the concerns of civil society.
The Party cites the Malaysia-Australia Free Trade Agreement which was signed last month despite no indication that the agreement was nearing completion, and the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement. In both cases no official drafts were made publicly available.
Pirate Party Australia believes that it is in Australia’s best interests to halt participation in the negotiations immediately, and calls for a more transparent negotiation process for all future agreements, including public consultations and access to negotiating texts.
There can be absolutely no legitimacy to any trade agreement or treaty negotiated behind closed doors. It can only be considered a circumvention of democracy.