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Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement Rally speech – 8 March

Speeches in Parliament
Adam Bandt 8 Mar 2012

There are a number of things I would like to do today but I can't.

I would like to talk to you about the detail of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) - but I can't, the draft text is being negotiated in secret.

I would like to reassure you that the US negotiators aren't demanding changes to our domestic policies - but I can't and the leaks suggest they are.

I would like to explain how the draft agreement will impact on the regulation of intellectual property in Australia - but I can't, it's confidential.

And the list goes on . . . .

We live in an age where we have:

  • Greater access to information about the world; and
  • Greater access to information about how we are governed.

For those people who are lucky enough to live in democracies, there are now greater opportunities for participation than ever before.

And yet we still have significant trade deals being negotiated behind closed doors.

I would like to tell you that these deals are being negotiated in good faith with Australia's best interests being advanced - but I can't, I can only speculate from what I do know.

Last year there was a leak of the draft US chapter regarding how intellectual property would be regulated under the agreement - it contains some worrying proposals.

The changes being proposed by the US would favour big pharmaceutical companies.

Patents would be stronger and longer; profits would be bigger.

The provisions would undermine the PBS and force changes to our current laws regarding intellectual property.

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade assure us that there is no agreed text on the IP Chapter and that Australia will not accept anything that would 'impact the integrity of the PBS' - I would like to believe that, but I don't.

The proposed expansion of IP rights will reduce access to knowledge; impacting our libraries, universities and research and stifling the innovation at the heart of Australia's productivity.

Our local content requirements support our film and television industry, but I fear they too could be undermined by the agreement.

The IP proposal constrains Australia's power to regulate in the interest of our cultural sector. US media corporations are also advocating the removal of local content regulation for new forms of media.

Our cultural landscape is rapidly evolving - the proposed expansion of IP rights onto internet software is inflexible and limits access to independent online digital media.

The US IP chapter has taken provisions from the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) - an agreement which has received widespread condemnation for contravening human rights.

The TPPA is potentially an extension of ACTA's violation of privacy, civil liberties and internet freedom.

Legitimate public consultation has been absent from the negotiation process - this is not consistent with the '21st Century agreement' the TPPA claims to be.

When confronted with concerns over IP provisions in stakeholder consultations, negotiators have claimed they cannot make 'blanket assurances one way or another'.

There is no reason why there can't be more transparency around this process, there is no reason why the draft text can't be released - if there are genuine benefits for Australia then let's have a genuine process.

Secrecy and paternalistic attitudes from government make me nervous.

US proposals backed by big pharmacy companies make me scared.

Fortunately we do live in a democracy and we can hold rallies like this.

I urge you to make your voice heard.

To find our more about the Greens campaign for fair trade and the TPPA - http://christine-milne.greensmps.org.au/TPPA

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