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The TPP Opens Australia’s Borders to Corporate Dictators

August 23, 2015

My edited speech from Sydney’s TPP Rally in Martin Place, Sunday 23 August, 2015.

Thank you Pat. Firstly, I’d like to acknowledge the Gadigal people of the Eora nation, ancestors past and present and their connection to the land we now call Sydney.

AFTINET led by Pat Ranald has done a phenomenal job over the past few years of shining a spotlight on the TPP and calling on government accountability for this trade agreement that shifts from removing tariffs to a full sovereign takeover of our laws.

The other speakers have identified how the TPP will allow overseas corporates, Big Media, Big Pharma, Big Sugar, Big Agriculture to challenge Australian rights by a thousand cuts, hard fought for rights like the minimum wage and worker protections, 

Our Food bowl is under threat. Our Water is under threat.

The Abbott government wants to include provisions in the China Free Trade Agreement (CHAFTA) that would allow them to sue if our laws get in the way of their profits.

The Shenhua mine on the Liverpool plains in North West New South Wales is a massive China overseas project.

Our food bowl is under threat.

This week I was up on the Liverpool plains talking to farmers.

This area grows 37% of Australia’s mixed crops. Wheat, sorghum, barley, chickpeas, sunflowers are grown here. The farmers win awards.

I looked at the site of the proposed Shenhua coal mine. Farmers told me about the impact it would have on agriculture in the area.  A thirty-five square kilometre mine that is 280m deep right in the middle of Australia’s fertile land is going to have an impact.

Coal dust from the mine will layer on these crops and turn them from first rate to barely saleable.

This is the food bowl for Australia, the yields per hectare up there with the Darling Downs.

It makes sense that our laws protect this land.

Our Water Catchments are under threat

A few hours north of Sydney in the water catchments of the central coast, a mining corporation owned by the South Korean government wants to mine.

IF NSW changes laws to prevent mining in water catchments KORES can sue the NSW government due to the Korea Free Trade Agreement that Australia signed last year.

The mining rights over the stunning heritage Bylong valley just a few hours from Sydney are also owned by a South Korean government corporation. If changes to the law are used to protect this land, that company could sue.

If NSW changes laws to protect these environments these companies can sue.

That is because under the Korea Australia Free Trade Agreement (KAFTA) signed by Trade Minister Robb includes ISDS provisions.

Our agreement with South Korea is a single country agreement.

The TPP is that single country agreement on steroids. The TPP agreement is between the US, Canada and 10 other countries: Australia, New Zealand, Brunei, Chile, Peru, Japan, Mexico, Malaysia, Singapore and Vietnam.

Guess which one the global corporates dictating the terms of the TPP come from?  The Big mining companies, Big pharmaceutical companies, Big media companies. Yup, America.

If  Trade Minister Andrew Robb signs the TPP that includes ISDS provisions, then Australia becomes simply an  ‘INVESTOR STATE’

Our sovereignty is under threat.

Under the TPP Australia becomes an investor state without border protections against overseas corporates. It opens its doors to foreign corporations and agree to let them override our laws for their profits – and to sue us if Australian governments put the interests of its citizens first.

It might be the minimum wage they don’t like. It could be the Pharmaceutical benefit scheme. It could be suing the NSW government for saying NO to a mining project in our water catchments.

Environmental campaigners campaign to protect for the long term. We get wins – like the water trigger being added to the EPBC requiring that water had to be taken into account in the approvals for big mining projects. In Coal Seam Gas we succeeded in erasing exploration licences, improving regulations, stopping coal seam gas projects on flood plains, and in Sydney Drinking Water Catchments.

Under the TPP the ability for campaigns to achieve new regulations that protect our environment and achieve environmental protection disappear. We need more help for governments who want to protect the environment for our future generations. Not less.  And this is where the TPP kicks in. If environmental protections are introduced that cost overseas corporation money then that overseas mining company can sue the state government.

The TPP replaces our sovereignty, and hopes and progressive dreams.

The world’s largest corporations have long been without borders. But the TPP means these corporate without borders will be able to sue our state government if they make laws that reduce their profits. Corporate Sovereignty replaces State Sovereignty.

It’s the invasion you have when you’re not having an invasion.

Let me tell you some examples that will make you sick:

  • US mining company Lone Pine used the North America Trade Agreement with Canada to sue the Quebec government $250m when it revoked the rights to frack under the St Lawrence River.  Lone Pine claims Quebec moratorium on fracking was “arbitrary” and “capricious”
  • US Pharma giant Eli Lilly is demanding $500 million from Canada, because Canada dared to reject some of its patents noting, quite correctly, that the drugs didn’t appear to be any improvement over existing drugs.
  • Tobacco Company Phillip Morris shifted its Head Office to Hong Kong where it could use ISDS provisions to sue the Australian government over plain packaging laws.
  • When Mexico put a restriction on high fructose corn syrup three different US corporates sued the Mexican government using investor-state provisions. Mexico lost. The bill $169 million dollars.

Trade Minister Andrew Robb says not to worry, “trust me” he says. Everything will be alright.

He says that the ISDS provisions are a protection.

He treats us like peasants, patronises our concerns. He’s forgotten who he represents.

He’s been seduced by the corporate power brokers, from companies that have no ethics or morals, a mercenary shambles of more more more more.

The TPP is not in the interests of Australian citizens.

IF the TPP is signed it is at the expense of our futures by a thousand cuts.

The TPP creates a cascade of power that will drown our laws, our sovereignty, our citizen rights.

It will create a cascade of power where

  • Government decision making will be dictated by foreign interests not our governments.
  • The balance of power will shift to overseas mining investors

South Africa, Ecuador, Venezuela have all terminated investment agreements. Yet Australia represented by ROBB (and ROBB alone it seems in a captain’s pick) wants to sign on.

Australia is NOT AN INVESTOR STATE. It is a sovereign nation.  Our laws cannot be dismissed. Our laws should not be overridden or not be put in place at all, simply because they get in the way of corporate profits.

Our Food bowl is under threat. Our Water is under threat.  Our Sovereignty is under threat.

Say no to CORPORATE SOVEREIGNTY. Say not Trade Deals. If it is not a FAIR DEAL for Australians (or Vietnamese, Mexicans, Malaysians …) it must be NO DEAL.

MORE INFORMATION

The dirtiest trade deal you’ve never heard of (Excellent Get Up video)

Those Crappy Trade Deals

ABC Background Briefing

ISDS Provisions – Myths and Facts

Biologics and the TPP

Wikileaks leaks Pharmaceutical Text

AFTINET

Note: John Howard did not support trade agreements that would allow the trading partner to sue Australia if our laws got in the way of their profits.

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