See also: The Day the Earth Died and why Sierra Club, Greenpeace, et al. were virtually silent about it (25/6/15) | Global Research
THESE TWO EVENTS occurring on opposite sides of the Pacific should trigger ring alarm bells with the Australian public because the Abbott government is on the brink of signing away our sovereign rights (ISDS clause) amongst other things.
What is the TPP?
Firstly, what is the TPP? The U.S. trade representative’s official description is:
... an ambitious,21st-century Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement that will enhance trade and investment among the TPP partner countries, promote innovation, economic growth and development, and support the creation and retention of jobs.
Here's why the TPP is such a BFD
The economic growth claims have already been debunked by a study conducted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, so if it does not deliver GDP growth, then what is the purpose of the TPP? Professor Jane Kelsey from the University of Auckland explains the real intention of the TPP [IA emphasis]:
The US aims to revive its geopolitical, strategic and economic influence in the Asian region to counter the ascent of China, in part through constructing a region-wide legal regime that serves the interests of, and is enforceable by, the US and its corporations.
So this proposed TPP “agreement” involves Australia as well as a host of other potential member nations including Brunei Darussalam, Chile, Malaysia, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, Canada, Japan, Mexico, Vietnam and the United States. South Korea has also indicated it may sign up.
How far off is agreement on the TPP?
The deal is essentially done in terms of agreement between the 12 countries which make up this bloc and could be signed by end of the year. Fast-tracking the TPP has removed a major impediment in the United States. Fast-tracking is summarised by journalist Dave Johnson as follows:
With fast track, Congress agrees to set aside its duties under Article 1 section 8 of the Constitution and vote on TPP within 90 days of it being signed, to severely limit discussion and debate, not to filibuster the agreement in the Senate and not to amend it not matter what problems turn up after the agreement is revealed. Fast track essentially pre-approves the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement (and future trade bills) before the public gets a chance to know what is in it.'
Overnight, Reuters reported that the Senate voted 60 to 38 giving Obama the power to negotiate the TPP and other trade deals and fast track them through Congress. The bill goes next to President Obama for his signature
Australia’s process for approving trade agreements is not so different to the U.S.’s fast-track process.
AFTINET describes Australia’s process as follows [IA emphasis]:
The Trade Minister presents the text to the Cabinet, which is made up of the Prime Minister and other Cabinet Ministers. The decision to sign the text is made by Cabinet, not the whole Parliament.
The text cannot be changed after it is signed.
Parliament only votes on the implementing legislation, not on the whole text of the agreement. The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), for example, has 29 chapters and only a few of these will require changes to legislation.”
However, many other chapters will restrict the ways in which current and future Australian governments can legislate, but will not require legislation. For example, the inclusion of the right of foreign investors to sue governments over domestic legislation (investor-state dispute settlement or ISDS) does not require a change to Australian legislation. Other changes, like changes to the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme, could be done by changing regulation rather than through legislation.
As many journalists and commentators have argued, agreements like the TPP have dubious benefits for the populations of the countries involved.