Lowlights of the Agreement
Dispute Resolution - ISDS. If you are not up on the ISDS (Investor State Dispute Settlement) - Central to the TPP is the concept that Corporations now have the same amount of sovereignty, the same rights as Countries. This means that we as a sovereign nation can not pass legislation that costs a multinational sales or profit. If we do then we have to pay the Multinational a fine covering that loss and a penalty every year it continues. For ever.
Any dispute over something like country-of-origin labelling or banning a cancer-causing weedkiller will be referred to the Investor-State Dispute System (ISDS). This is actually a Court run by the Multinationals. There are no Judges, decisions are made by the Multinational's own staff acting as rotating Judges. Yes you read that correctly - the Multinationals rule on themselves. The ISDS Court is free to impose any fine, require any compliance that it likes.
We can leave the agreement. A last minute inclusion allows us to leave the agreement with 12 months notice. All outstanding ISDS claims however continue and can be enforced, so the damage will be done very early.
The document is a "living agreement". That means as the ISDS Court rules on cases it actually creates a precedent that forms part of the agreement after that. This means even if our negotiators think to write in a clause to protect this or that, in 10 years or 20 years time the world will be a completely different place. New technology, new situations will arise that will immediately fall under the ISDS Court's power. So our protections will degrade over time.
Just as bad, the agreement can be amended by unanimous vote of the parties, with no further reference to Parliament. We cannot change our vote once made. The temptation on our Trade Minister to profit from this in the years ahead is unacceptable.
The other part of "living agreement" is that any Multinational or local company can join the TPP at any time. So over time we come under more and more control from more and more companies. Other Countries are also free to join, and China is a hot tip to do that. Now even if you consider the TPP will give us more jobs in the short term as we get an advantage over other Countries, it will not in the long run. Those Countries will simply sign up and get their jobs back. In the end all we will do is give away fair wages, free education & health care, sovereign borders, planning authority and personal liberty while gaining not one thing in return.
Multinationals will have massive power, higher profits from lower labour, planning and compliance costs and all that profit goes into the pockets of the same people who have been filling their pockets at our expense for 30 years.
Examples on how ISDS has been used to screw the people
Three quick examples:
- Award wages. Multinationals will be exempt from labour laws. So if they want to bring in workers on a 457 visa and pay them $5 an hour and specify a 6 day, 12 hour week then they can. This is what Multinationals are doing now in Mexico, where the standard farm wage is only $6 a day and the working week is 7 days. Mexico is a signatory to the TPP, as is another low-wage country - Vietnam. So we will be competing with workers in our own country earning a fraction of what we earn. That will force other local businesses to do the same thing or go broke.
- Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) and Medicare. This scheme relies on the government offerring Big Pharma a price for their pharmaceuticals that is based on what the drug is worth, not what they are asking for it. This reduces the purchase price to the Government by as much as 50%. This will go under the TPP. Drug Companies can charge what they want, and with the TPP also extending the duration of patent protection to kill off locally produced generics, taxpayers will be paying billions more and for years longer. The PBS and Medicare cannot sustain this level of cost. Especially Medicare, which uses a similar system not only for their drugs but for equipment, pathology services and labour services. Read more
- The end of healthy and organic food. People prefer locally made, organic and non-GMO foods. If a Multinational wants to sell foreign grown, genetically modified food, that may contain dangerous levels of pesticides and heavy metals, it can. We won't know. Because if we make them say what is in it or where it was grown, then people will not buy it. Even if a local grower is doing quality organic produce - they cannot label their food "organic" or "locally grown". That is exactly the sort of "you cannot cost us money" scenario the TPP is written to stop. So no food labelling, no ingredients or nutrition panels and no Country of origin. So local growers will be left to compete on price wIth Multinationals paying their pickers peanuts right here in Australia or importing trash from overseas for a few cents a kg and undercutting quality local produce. We are in for some shit food.
- A probable issue - the end of Free Education. The TPP specifies that if a Multinational builds a school in your suburb, the state will have to stop offering free education in competition. This is because the free Government School takes business from the for-profit School. The same clause also covers Health Care - Public Hospitals will not be allowed to compete against Private Hospitals. However the ryder here is that we havent seen the exact wording and our Trade Repreentative is still negotiating this point. There is however a reason why the National Cirriculum/Common Core has been developed. If you are going to privatise education it becomes impratical unless every student is being taught the same syllabus using the same materials. Which they now are in Australia and the USA.
BTW if you look at this and think - "how long have they been planning this" - the answer is years. This is not some little trade deal - it is the end-game for total control over our society and our economy.
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