Have your say on the Trans Pacific Partnership – an agreement that would enable multinational companies to sue Australia, in offshore Tribunals, for having environmental protection laws that restrict their capacity to earn profit in Australia. Make a brief submission to the Joint Parliamentary Inquiry between now and 11 March.
Here’s what long-time TPP Campaigner Barry Fitzpatrick has to say about it:
- Free Trade Agreements like the TPP contain pernicious legal enforcement mechanisms called ISDS.
- ISDS stands for Investor State Dispute Settlement.
- ISDS allows multinationals to sue Australia in offshore tribunals if our democratically determined regulations interfere with their profit projections. ISDS trumps our legal system and our democratic decision making.
- This is because, while multinationals can control governments through donations, bribes and massive ad campaigns, they are powerless to deal with angry communities. ISDS, however, will allow them to neutralise grassroots campaigns.
- Under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) – the model for the TPP – almost two-thirds of ISDS claims against Canada involved challenges to environmental protection that allegedly interfered with the profit of American multinationals, usually around issues that have been grassroots driven.
- Canada is an advanced western nation like Australia, yet under NAFTA Canada has faced 36 ISDS claims since 2000, and handed over hundreds of millions of dollars in compensation to multinationals, with billions pending.
- This is because NAFTA provides US multinationals with the opportunity to sue Canada using ISDS.
- Australia until now has not had a free trade deal with the US that included ISDS provisions and therefore has not been subject to ISDS lawsuits from litigious US multinationals. (600 US multinationals were closely involved in shaping the negotiations for the TPP).
- The effect of these ISDS lawsuits under NAFTA has been to force the Canadian government into regulatory freeze and environmental rollbacks.
- Bizarrely, this probably suited the neoliberal government of Stephen Harper, which, like influential conservative elements of the Turnbull government, argued for reduced ‘green tape’, removal of enviro group tax concession status, limiting climate change action and restricting community rights to object to mining and other developments.
- When we join the dots, we can see that ISDS will very likely act as a default mechanism for the delivery of these neoliberal objectives without the Turnbull government having to ‘face the people’ or indeed even consult with them.
- Perversely, ISDS provisions are not essential to the success of free trade agreements.
There remains a vital window of opportunity for us to press for the removal of ISDS provisions in the TPP: while the TPP agreement has now been accepted by Australia and the 11 other nations involved, it has not yet been ratified through parliament. Labor and the Greens do not support ISDS in free trade agreements, but Labor may support the passing of TPP legislation including ISDS if there is not enough public outcry.
For information on how to make a submission, click here.
Need to know more? See this Trans Pacific Partnership Question and Answer to learn how ISDS in free trade deals will impact on our future capacity to protect the unique Australian environment.
You can view the DRAFT NQCC submission on TPP, BUT PLEASE, do not copy it verbatim.