Trans-Pacific Partnership secretly trading away rights
The federal government should encourage open and honest debate on the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
- Updated:24 Oct 2014
- Author:Zoya Sheftalovich
01.CHOICE calls for fair trade
you concerned about increasing cost of medicines? Would you worry if
Australians could be jailed for illegally downloading an episode of Game of Thrones? Do you want to know if your muesli bar contains palm oil?
Then you really should care about the Trans-Pacific Partnership
(TPP), a trade agreement being negotiated in secret between Australia,
Brunei, Chile, Canada, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru,
Singapore, the United States and Vietnam.
In this report you will find information on:
- The secrecy surrounding the TPP and details of how the media is being locked out of briefings
- How the Australian government could become more vulnerable to lawsuits from multinational corporations
- Why food labelling in Australia is in danger
- How draconian copyright provisions could significantly curb our freedom online
- How new patent provisions could make medication costs skyrocket
- CHOICE’s campaign on the TPP
investigates the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the impact it will
have on your consumer rights and privacy. Why all the secrecy?
What CHOICE wantsThe TPP negotiations are drawing to a close, and are likely to be
finalised by November. However, it is not too late to release the drafts
of the TPP so that they can be debated in civil society and so the TPP
can be made fairer for consumers.
CHOICE is currently campaigning against the secrecy surrounding the TPP. We have now lodged our petition,
signed by over 14,000 Australians, calling on the government to release
the contents of the TPP. We believe such an important and binding trade
agreement must be open for public scrutiny and oversight. The signed
petition has been presented to the government to send the message that
Australian consumers deserve to have a say on the TPP.
And our campaign doesn't stop there. To find out how you can get
further involved with our TPP campaign, check out our #ReleaseTheText campaigners information kit.
Why haven’t you heard more about it?The TPP has been shrouded in secrecy, with negotiations happening
behind closed doors and non-disclosure agreements securing the
negotiators’ silence. And while CHOICE has met with several of those
involved in drafting the agreement and even attended meetings with
negotiators at a round of negotiations held in Malaysia in 2013 (we were
permitted to have our say, but could only guess at the contents of the
agreement in order to raise our objections), we still don’t know what
the final agreement will contain. Because of the secrecy, which began
under the previous Labor government and has continued last year's
election of the Coalition, any public knowledge about the TPP is based
on leaked drafts and statements made by those involved.
The kicker? Hundreds of “cleared advisors”
- a group comprising industry lobbyists from the US - have had access
to the full drafts of the TPP, while public interest groups like CHOICE
have been kept in the dark.
WikiLeaks recently published a draft of the intellectual property chapter
of the agreement, which they say was distributed among the chief
negotiators of the TPP in May 2014. While several rounds of talks have
been held since the leaked chapter was authored, it appears that the
chapter is largely settled. This leaked draft indicates that consumer
rights could be significantly eroded if Australia signs and ratifies the
When speaking of a previous Wikileaks leak of the chapter, Dr Matthew Rimmer,
Associate Professor at the ANU College of Law, said: “Australian
consumers have been betrayed. The intellectual property chapter of the
Trans-Pacific Partnership is a monster. The proposals in respect of
copyright law, trademark law, patent law, and data protection would hit
Australian consumers hard.
“The Trans-Pacific Partnership undermines Australian efforts to take
substantive policy action in respect of IT pricing. The agreement does
nothing to further efforts to reform copyright exceptions in Australia.
The agreement threatens consumer rights, privacy, and internet freedom.”
DFAT to media: you’re “ineligible” to attend TPP briefingsThe Australian government seems like it isn’t too keen on TPP
negotiations hitting the headlines. In late October 2013, technology
journalist Josh Taylor of ZDNet told CHOICE he was barred from attending a Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) briefing on the TPP negotiations, despite the fact that his RSVP had previously been confirmed.
According to the invitation,
the briefing was open to “members of the public, and business and civil
society stakeholders”; no mention was made of journalists being
excluded. But in revoking his invitation, Taylor says DFAT told him that
TPP briefings are “off the record”. In a backflip, DFAT later
reportedly told the journalist he could attend in a private capacity,
but couldn’t record or attribute any of the briefing material.
Read more: http://www.choice.com.au/reviews-and-tests/money/shopping-and-legal/legal/Trans-pacific-Partnership-secretly-trading-away-rights.aspx#ixzz3Npvsg4tV