Apathy seems to be the current political climate because people around the world have been brain-washed by our politicians and media for so long that they have lost the power - or didn't want it - to think for themselves - AND ACT ON IT!!!
The items posted below are those that have appeared in media in articles, letters and other online resources, and will hopefully provide the latest overview of the=is most disastrous of plots to subvert our democracies, enfeebled as they already are, by emasculating them altogether.
Business call for government to open up Trans Pacific Partnership negotiations
Economics Editor, The Age
As the Trade Minister Andrew Robb responded to criticism of his actions in keeping the text of the Trans Pacific agreement secret, the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry said it wanted negotiations to be monitored in real time by the Productivity Commission and wanted draft texts disclosed to registered community and business organisations as happens in the US.
Criticised for keeping the negotiations secret in a so-called health impact statement released by the University of NSW Centre for Health Equity Training Research and Evaluation, Mr Robb said the text of the agreement would be made public as soon as it was agreed between the 12 nations.
"The text will not be kept secret. Once it is agreed between participants, it will be made public and also subjected to parliamentary scrutiny," he said.
"Since 2011, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade has conducted more than 1000 briefings with interested stakeholders, including groups representing health, pharmaceuticals, consumers and unions."
The ACCI wants negotiating drafts to be shown to community and business groups who would then be under an obligation to keep them confidential.
Negotiators would retain their power to conclude deals without reference to the parliament but would be required to "properly consider and balance the merits of civil society's views at all phases of negotiation".
In Australia the parliament can accept or reject but cannot amend agreements negotiated by the minister.
The ACCI also wants the direct costs to the government of negotiating treaties to be clearly identified in future budgets. Its director of trade and international affairs Bryan Clark said the Australian community had no idea how much money had been spent negotiating the Trans Pacific Partnership and so was unable to judge the worth of exercise.
Mr Robb said last month Australia takes 22 specialists to each negotiation backed up by teams at home. The US takes 80.
Mr Clark said Australia collected no data on how trade deals were actually used after they were completed and was unable to quickly support businesses that found the concessions negotiated were not offered when their goods arrived at docks in other countries.
The chamber's submission to the Senate's inquiry into the treaty-making process says Australian negotiators do little to ensure that each new trade treaty is consistent with existing ones leading to a mish-mash of overlapping treaties that interfere with each other.
Trans Pacific Partnership: Written in secret, in the interests of corporations
The TPP will damage far more than our medicine prices ("Trade deal's bitter pills", 3/3). This "NAFTA on steroids" is less about free trade than about giving corporations power over national governments' laws and regulations. It has been largely written in secret by multinationals with their interests at heart. No longer will we be able to refuse products that don't adhere to our environmental regulations ("dolphin safe", chemical use, certification labels), child labour laws, health regulations (cigarette plain packaging, food labelling) and a range of protections we take for granted. Under the TPP, a tribunal comprising lawyers from the corporate giants will be set up to rule on such matters. If we disagree, we will be slapped with sanctions. Any changes to the TPP need agreement by all countries. It is the most insidious, regressive, undemocratic agreement yet penned. It should not be signed.
David Blair, Healesville
Ratification just a formalityMr Robb's claims that "the TPP text will not be kept secret. Once it is agreed between participants, it will be made public and also subjected to parliamentary scrutiny prior to any final ratification" are weasel words. The process is that Cabinet authorises the final negotiated text to be signed before it is publicly released. It is then reviewed by a parliamentary committee, but the text cannot be changed. Parliament only votes on the implementing legislation, not the whole text. This means large parts of the text not requiring legislation – such as foreign investor rights to sue governments (ISDS) and any restrictions on future legislation – are not debated or approved by Parliament. Ratification only comes at the end of this process, after the legislation, and is just a formal exchange of letters before the agreement comes into force. If we want any meaningful public debate of the final text, it must be released before Cabinet decides to sign it.
Patricia Ranald, Australian Fair Trade and Investment Network
We need IP protectionCritics of the TPP trade negotiations, particularly in relation to intellectual property provisions and medicines, have raised concerns that don't tell the complete story. In Australia, we have scientists, clinicians and some great companies working to help develop the newest medicines. But we lack sufficient commercial investment and a globally competitive intellectual property (IP) regime to help protect the work.
I sit on a number of biotech boards and the key question that always arises relates to the strength of IP in relation to a new therapy. IP is at the core of any life sciences company valuation, and as such, the period of the patent and/or the data exclusivity is of paramount importance when we assess which companies or projects we will invest in. Enhanced IP protection for medicines is not a choice between cheap drugs and enriching pharmaceutical firms. It is a choice between helping Australia to be a leader in the next scientific revolution or waiting and hoping someone else will do the job.
Dr George Morstyn, Brighton
Robb's claims eerily familiarMr Robb says "I am not going to do something that I think is not in the public interest". This comforting statement sounds eerily like other meaningless promises from this government – the PM's promise to govern for all Australians, Joe Hockey's to produce an even-handed budget and Christopher Pyne's "improvements" to tertiary education. At least these policies had to be vetted by the Senate, where many have quite rightly run into a brick wall. So Mr Robb's view of what is in the public interest may differ dramatically from the rest of us. Public, independent scrutiny is necessary before we are locked into this agreement.
Peter Thomson, Richmond
When ethics run distant second to greedOn rising anti-Semitism (Comment, 2/3), the most extensive study of the Gentiles who saved Jews from the Holocaust isolated one core factor: the strong values rescuers had learnt growing up. Aristotle recognised that "moral excellence comes about as a result of habit". The ancient Greeks understood that integrity develops in individuals only by personal effort and in societies by sustained communal striving. Yet, neo-conservative free-market ideology, which has already delivered two world wars and the Depression, jettisons the common good and promotes individual gain as the greatest virtue. Ruthlessness, greed and dishonesty pay the biggest dividends, extinguishing ethics from the top down. In Plato's words, this puts a lie in people's souls.
The life-protecting forces of conscience, empathy, fairness, compassion and respect become quaint anachronisms. People who live ethically finish last in a morally bankrupt society.
Rising anti-Semitism and other violence evoke the canary in the coal-mine alarm. It is consistent with the dearth of leadership, from workplaces to the world stage, that champions and rewards ethical values.
Barbara Chapman, Hawthorn
AND ANOTHER THING...
PoliticsA "free" trade agreement? To give overseas companies "free" control of critical aspects of the government of our country?
Diana Snape, Balwyn
Are ministers and bureaucrats who sign trade deals that compromise or destroy our sovereignty guilty of treason?
Graeme Madigan, Brighton
So, big business sending billions of dollars overseas protects Australian employment? What a novel idea.
Adrian Peniston-Bird, Hawthorn
Put skids on TPPTPP Letter in The Age 110315
Thanks, Peter Martin, for pointing out the pitfalls of signing the Trans Pacific Partnership agreement (Comment, 10/3). Senator Elizabeth Warren, a possible Democrat nominee for the 2016 US presidential election, wrote recently in The Washington Post that the only beneficiary would be multinationals and that the agreement would undermine the sovereignty of nations via the "Investor-State Dispute Settlement" clause, a feature of TPP.
Warren cites examples of how companies use ISDS to harm nations: a French company sued Egypt because Egypt raised its minimum wage, and a Swedish company sued Germany because it decided to phase out nuclear power after the Fukushima disaster, while a Dutch company sued the Czech Republic because the Czechs didn't bail out a bank that the company partially owned. Philip Morris is trying to use ISDS to stop Uruguay from implementing regulations intended to cut smoking rates. Australians must insist the government put the skids on the TPP.
Bill Mathew, Parkville
Do Corporations Really Need More Rights? Why Fast Track for the TPP Is a Bad Idea
Nation of change 140315
The TPP won't expand U.S. exports, thus creating jobs and opportunities for small businesses—it will instead strengthen corporate rule. The international agreement undermines democracy, economic justice, the environment, human health and small business.
- Protect the authority of national legislative bodies to set trade policy
- Restore balanced trade
- Put workers first
- Stop currency manipulation
- Secure each nation’s right to give preference to national procurement
- Protect the environment for future generations
- Prioritize consumers above profits
- Assure the right of national judicial systems to settle legal disputes with investors.
- Secure affordable access to essential medicines and services
- Respect human rights
- Provide a safety net for vulnerable workers