Labor MP tables anti-TPP petition with over 300,000 signatures


news An anti-Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) petition with over 300,000 signatures has been has tabled before Parliament by Labor MP Melissa Parke.

The petition was initiated by campaign groups GetUp! and SumOfUs and been signed by around 305,000 Australians objecting to the TPP agreement.

Parke also presented a letter addressed to members of parliament from the Australian Fair Trade & Investment Network (AFTINET) on behalf of 59 community organisations representing two million Australians.

The TPP is a controversial trade agreement among twelve Pacific countries which reached agreement in early October last year after years of negotiations. The treaty is controversial because it forces countries such as Australia to adopt rules such as investor-state dispute mechanisms which can allow corporations to sue governments for taking certain actions, as well as introducing new intellectual property controls.

Digital rights activists globally have fought hard to block the TPP over the past seven years that it has been being negotiated. One of the last chance to do so appears to be in the United States, where the US Congress has yet to formally ratify the treaty and many MPs on both sides of the US Congress oppose it.

In the text of a speech before Parliament, Parke said: “The concerns expressed in the letter appropriately sum up the major reasons why this parliament should be supporting the call for independent assessments of the text prior to the agreement being ratified.”

The letter called for an independent assessment of TPP economic costs and benefits, as offered by the Productivity Commission, including analysis of the costs and risks to government of ISDSs and an extension of medicine and copyright monopolies, she said.

Further, the MP stated an independent health, environment and human rights and labour rights assessment for the TPP was warranted.

Parke welcomed that fact that “outrageously predatory behaviour on the part of tobacco companies” could lead to investor-state dispute settlements (ISDS) cases against tobacco regulation potentially being excluded under the terms of the TPP.

However, she raised the issue of “biologics”, or biotechnology, saying that the Trade Minister, Andrew Robb, “claims to have had a big win in TPP negotiations” relating to the issue of market exclusivity for this type of medical commerce.

Parke explained that, since the TPP is set to provide clinical data protection for foreign companies, effectively blocking production of “biosimilars” for up to eight years, “Undoubtedly this will ultimately impact in the cost of medicines going up.”

Another “major issue” with the TPP, she continued, is the chapter on investment and its investor state dispute settlement clauses since it “magnifies the negative consequences and impacts of the other chapters.”

Foreign companies, she explained, will have the power under the TPP agreement to sue Australia in a private international tribunal for “any laws, policies or court decisions that may impact upon their profits”.

Decrying claims that fears over ISDS are “hysterical fear mongering”, Parke said that the Chief Justice of the High Court of Australia, the Productivity Commission, Nobel Prize winner Professor Joseph Stiglitz, and the UN Special Rapporteur on Trade had all also warned against the inclusion of ISDS clauses in trade agreements.

As examples, she cited the examples of a number of countries such as Germany, Egypt, Canada, Costa Rica and others, which have all been sued by corporations under ISDS-like provisions.

It is a “supreme irony”, she said, given President Obama’s support of the TPP, that the USA was sued by a Canadian mining company over its rejection of the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline under ISDS provisions in NAFTA – a “TPP-like trade deal”.

“This bodes extremely ill for government attempts to regulate or even make decisions for the benefit of the environment,” she said

Finally, Parke noted that, according to an economic analysis by the World Bank, Australia stands to gain “almost nothing from the TPP deal”.

The World Bank study shows that the TPP would boost Australia’s economy by just 0.7% by the year 2030. Parke pointed out that the annual increase in growth would be less than “one half of one-tenth of 1%” going by the study’s figures.


  1. Would this allow foreign companies to sue our government (over perceived loss of future profits) if our government decides to build infrastructure projects in the future?

    • Quite likely and there’s another trade deal under negotiation called TISA which would actively prevent govs from building telecommunications infrastructure like the NBN!

      The NBN could be another significant foreign target. While it is currently protected under current legislation and can only be sold off if the NBN is completed or if it is not completed after December 31 2020. Would it be in the national interest for NBN to be sold to a foreign government through a state owned enterprise or would the government look to disaggregate the NBN and sell of its component parts? Ostensibly, a foreign government flush with cash could use a state owned enterprise to purchase each of the disaggregated NBN entities under TISA as it now stands.

      Other telecommunications related provisions in TISA read like a wishlist that is anything but advantageous to our national interest. TISA includes a ban on preventing data (including metadata) from being stored outside a nation’s borders, protection for net neutrality as it has been adopted in the US, and a limit on how site blocking and permissive service blocking provisions can be applied to prevent consumers from accessing specific internet locations.

      TISA also looks to block demands by nations to see the source code within telecommunication devices unless the telecommunication devices are to be used as “critical infrastructure.” The major US telecommunication equipment vendors that provided the US NSA with a backdoor to key telecommunications systems and were outed by Edward Snowden now have the temerity to demand through TISA that national security concerns should be set aside if a nation decides to sign up to an international trade agreement.

      • Thanks for the link. If it’s true it seems quite disturbing that we would allow foreign entities to dictate the prosperity of the Australian economy! Quite unfair in my opinion.

  2. Could Huawie sue the government over exclusion from use is Australian infrastructure over national security concerns.

    • Quite possibly, especially under the Telco Security Reforms, under which the government would likely force companies like Optus to ditch their equipment from Huawei, and other companies like them…

  3. I’ve often thought that the financially suicidal Charmicheal coal mine could be an elaborate ISDS scam. Revenge for Whitehaven Coal’s exploitation of ISDS against India. I guess we will find out in the next year or two.

    The TPP and TISA are bad news. Powergrabs by corporations who are guaranteed to abuse any power they get. And the latter especially is a neoconservative wet dream with regulatory bans and ratchet mechanisms which seek to turn other nations in to mini clones of what America would be if the neo-cons had gotten even more of what they wanted these last few decades; A corporatocracy with useless regulation, few government services and an enslaved and suffering population.

  4. This TPP has caused more questions of doubt than what this Government has answered
    – do you get the idea that this Liberal Government is an enemy of Australia as they have sold us out?

    • No not fake simply not in the House of Reps. If you play the video it would make sense to you. It looks like one of those Senate Committee rooms.

      I just noticed that the question is answered a few comments below this one.

  5. This government is corrupt to its rotten core. Contempt for the people, ripping our land apart for mining, risking the Great Artesian Basin, blind to the need to curb vehicle emissions, this is a government that goes its own way, riding roughshod over anyone in their way and no thought for the consequences. Then there is a trade agreement that allows foreign governments to sue us. What the hell is going on?

  6. This was not taken in the House of Reps. Where was it? Was there a vote? Who vote for vand against? Did Baranby Joyce vote against it?

  7. This picture was not taken in the House oF Reps. Where was it taken? Was there a vote? Who voted for and against? Did Barnaby Joyce vote against it?

  8. Daniel Palmer you wrote ‘In the text of a speech before Parliament, Parke said ‘ BUT the picture was not taken in the House of Reps. What gives?

    • The video was taken in the Federation Chamber, which is a separate Chamber of the House of Reps used for proceedings of the House of Reps and simultaneously with the main Chamber.

  9. Andrew Robb should be tried for treason for signing the TPP. This fascist government needs to be removed at the next election, before it can do any more harm to Australia.

  10. This looks like a plan for Monopolosation by major companies all wanting their own way.
    A referendum must be put to The People before the goverement can sign off on the TPP.

  11. Well done Melissa Parke, once again you are a clear voice reflecting the true concerns of what is happening.

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