The ASU supports the recent letter sent by our trade campaigning partner AFTINET (Australian Fair Trade & Investment Network) to local councils across the country advising of the various adverse effects the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Agreement could potentially have on local government. The ASU is a supporting partner and affiliate of AFTINET.
"We endorse AFTINET's letter to councils, advising them about the TPP, and urging them to be involved in getting a better deal for Australians," said ASU Assistant National Secretary Greg McLean.
The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Agreement is a free trade agreement involving Australia, the US and a number of other countries. Although negotiations are secretive, we know from leaked documents and limited public information that the agreement may give unprecedented rights to foreign investors to sue governments; may result in higher prices for medicines; could impact workers & the environment adversely; Internet freedom may be under threat; there could be threats to sustainable, healthy food; and it may result in reduced Australian content in media.
"A big problem with the TPP process has been the secrecy and lack of transparency – with Australia's ability to create certain laws and regulations at stake, serious repercussions are possible," said Mr McLean.
AFTINET's concerns about the impact of the TPP on democracy, including local government, cover these broad areas:
- Investor Rights to sue: impacts on democratic government laws and policies
- ISDS impacts on specific local government regulation and services
- Other TPP chapters which could impact on local government: services, government procurement and libraries
What can councils do?
AFTINET is asking councils to discuss the issues raised within council structures and also to bring any concerns to the attention of the Minister for Trade, who is responsible for the negotiation of the TPP. The ASU encourages councils to consider the draft resolution provided by AFTINET to councils:
Draft local government resolution
We are concerned about the potential impact of the TPP on local government.
The TPP should not contain provisions which:
- enable a foreign investor to sue governments for damages over policy, laws or regulations at local, state or national level
- increase the period for copyright royalties and/or increases restrictions or penalties for temporary downloads from the internet
- restrict local government policies which encourage local employment support local economic and industry development and encourage good employment practices and initiatives
- restrict local government policies which encourage good environmental practices and initiatives
- restrict local government supply and regulation of services or require the commercialisation of services
- prevent local government procurement policy from giving preference to local suppliers
The text of the TPP should be released for public and parliamentary discussion before the decision to sign it is made by Cabinet