Australia’s Trade Minister Rejects Calls for TPP Study

Australia is one of the many battlegrounds for the Trans-Pacific Partnership. An open letter signed by a large contingent of organizations called on the Australian government to conduct an independent cost-benefit analysis of the TPP (Trans-Pacific Partnership). In response, trade minister Andrew Robb rejected the call and blasted those that would question the TPP as being anti-trade.

Things are getting combative in the land down under lately. 59 Australian organizations have signed an open letter to the government requesting a cost-benefit analysis (PDF) of the TPP. In the letter, the organizations wrote the following:

Following recommendations from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, the Harper Competition Policy Review, the Productivity Commission, Public Health experts and UN special rapporteurs on human rights, we believe Parliament should not vote on the implementing legislation
until the following independent assessments of the text have been conducted:

– An independent assessment of TPP economic costs and benefits, as offered by the Productivity Commission, including costs and risks to government of ISDS and extension of medicine and copyright monopolies;

– Independent health, environment, human rights and labour rights assessments of the TPP.

It would seem that things like human rights are not something the Australian government is too concerned about. Australia’s trade minister Andrew Robb blasted those who would question the TPP and dismissed them as being anti-trade because they wanted to know the full impact the deal would have on Australia. From The Guardian:

But Robb flatly rejected the request. “No we won’t, because they’re all the usual suspects, I’ve got to say,” he told the ABC.

“Most of the people driving that campaign have been opponents of free trade for decades. They’re entitled to that view, but nothing that would come out of an inquiry would change their mind.

“There’s nothing that they’ve said that convinces me that they’re genuine about this … I think the community accepts that we’ve got 25 years of uninterrupted economic growth in Australia, we’ve got millions of jobs which have come off the back of Australia opening up and participating in these sorts of major agreements around the world with all of our trading partners.”

The news comes as Malaysian opposition MPs are called on their government to allow a committee to oversee the implementation of the TPP, keeping an eye on any potential hazards the agreement would contain for their country.

It would seem that Australia is also facing their own version of a fight between the people and their own government over the TPP issue. With such strong-handed tactics from the government, it’s unclear as to how citizens and organizations plan to move ahead in their fight.

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Google+.



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