Pirate Party Australia has received confirmation that the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) has rescinded confirmations of attendance for journalists to the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement briefing to be held in Sydney at 4pm on 30 October, stating that the meeting is “off-the-record”, and that journalists are not welcome.
DFAT has also removed all references to the event from their website. The original content from that page is still available on a website planning to protest during the briefing.
“This proves empirically that the Government has something to hide regarding the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement. There is absolutely no justification for barring any Australian from attending a briefing regarding a trade agreement, especially one as opaquely negotiated as the TPP,” said Brendan Molloy, Councillor of Pirate Party Australia.
“It is of utmost importance that the media attends these events so that the broader public may understand what is at stake when these kinds of agreements are drafted behind closed doors, without scrutiny or oversight, and what major effects on Australia the TPP will have, such as the possible introduction of an investor-state dispute settlement regime, or major changes to our copyright and patent legislation. These bureaucrats need to be held to account.”
“I’ve already had a freedom of information request have a fee levied with the justification that the TPP isn’t in the public interest because there have been few articles written about it. It’s pretty hard to write an article about something when you’re barred from attending the briefings, and instead offered an arrangement where you’re spoonfed Government spin and prevented from hearing the important, unanswered questions being asked by the stakeholders that shine a harsher light on this secretive agreement,” concluded Mr Molloy.
There has already been a public outcry about the censorship levied against journalists on social media.
The Pirate Party cannot understand the justification that a public briefing should be considered off-the-record, and as such the Party demands that the invitations are reinstated for any journalist that requested access, and that future public briefings are just that: public.
It is comical to note that this week is considered Global Transparency Week. DFAT certainly knows how to end it with a bang.