As secret Trans-Pacific (TPP) trade talks resume in New York, an unusually diverse mix of 47 Australian community groups including the ASU, public health, environment, union, church, development aid and other groups have written an open letter to Trade Minister Robb citing mounting evidence that the TPP is not in the national interest, and demanding that the text be released for public scrutiny before it is signed.
"The TPP talks have missed many deadlines over the last five years because community groups in many TPP countries have pressured governments to resist US proposals which would benefit US pharmaceutical, media, IT and tobacco industries at the expense of peoples' rights," Dr Patricia Ranald, Coordinator of the Australian Fair Trade and Investment Network, said today.
"TPP proposals to extend monopolies on medicines would delay access to cheaper generic medicines. A recent study shows that extending monopolies on ten key medicines would cost the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) $205 million in one year," explained Dr Deborah Gleeson, from Latrobe University and the Public Health Association of Australia.
Australian Council of Trade Unions President Ged Kearney said: "Fair global trade needs to create jobs and prosperity for all. But the TPP will give foreign investors unfair rights to sue governments over changes to domestic laws, including labour laws. There is no agreement that the TPP will include legally enforceable workers' rights to organise and improve working conditions. Without these rights, the TPP will contribute to a race to the bottom on living standards"
"TPP proposals to allow foreign investors to sue governments over changes to domestic laws could threaten future regulation to protect special places like the Great Barrier Reef. The TPP gives more rights to global corporations and it is unlikely there will be agreement on enforceable environmental standards", added Matthew Rose, Economist from the Australian Conservation Foundation.
"The European Union has responded to community pressure and announced that it will publish the full text of the Trans-Atlantic trade deal (TTIP) between the EU and the US before it is signed. Australia and other TPP countries should follow this example and agree to release the TPP text before it is signed for public and parliamentary debate. This is the only way to test if it is in the national interest," said Dr Ranald.
Dr Patricia Ranald - 0419 695 841
Ged Kearney, Australian Council of Trade Unions - 0418 793 885
Dr Deborah Gleeson, Latrobe University, Public Health Association - 0423 209 029
Matthew Rose, Australian Conservation Foundation - 0439 342 992