TPP JSCOT “Public Forum” Report back

The first short notice “public forum” on the TPP happened in Canberra today Monday 22 February.

Slated as the government’s presentation of its case for the Trans

There is an immediate concern that the inquiry process which has an apparent “public window” follows the tradition of secrecy embedded in the Trans Pacific Partnership’s DNA. When the forum was opened to the public a large contingent of “invited public” were already present and apparently privy to other earlier discussions to which the general public were not privy.

Western Australian ALP MP Melissa Parke mounted a spirited line of inquiry which opened what is sure to be a growing discussion about the Investor State Dispute Settlement chapter. The lead DFAT advocate stated her position as being in favour of tribunals of Corporate Lawyers having a first and final say with no process for countries to appeal. Her questions were on point and DFAT struggled to answer them with clarity.

Labor Member for Wills Kevin Thompson raised the issue of 501 visa workers and the future for Australian workers under TPP. DFAT answers were far from convincing.

DFAT and health were at pains to state that the TPP would not raise the cost of medicines. Their explanation regarding PBS scheduling procedures ensuring competitive pricing is negated in a TPP scenario where medicines patent life is extended and generics competition is shut out of the market. As neither DFAT nor Health will inhibit pharmaceuticals companies from pricing as they please-or gouging if they wish- I fail to see how DFAT can guarantee this.

DFAT rejected the proposition put by the honourable Kelvin Thompson that the Productivity Commission give an opinion on the TPP with a waffling statement on the Petersen Institute modelling and a weak attempt to paint the World Bank analysis as being “hugely beneficial” to Australia. There is no independent audit assessment or analysis. DFAT and its past and present ministers seem content to give their questionable work the highest marks.

While DFAT waxed lyrical about Farm and mining exports they chose to highlight some curious examples of purported trade benefits.

The DFAT representative murmured almost imperceptably that some deals were effective at a future date

A few thousand measly tonnes of extra sugar to the US.

Mining equipment exports to Brunei Darusalaam.

Cheese exports to Japan and the US. (I note then Canadian PM Harper pledged $C4.3billion to Canadian dairy farmers as a dairy offset due to product glut on US market.

Following the forum I took JSCOT staff to task as to process. With written submissions due March 11th and as yet unannounced Forums to be held in capital cities and given the preferential private access afforded to “invited parties” how are the public meant to prepare meaningful submissions by the 11th of March closing date?

The JCOST staffer stated that late submissions WOULD be accepted without revealing a final date for late submissions.

JCOST phone (02) 62774002

JCOST FAX (02) 62772219

Notification that a late submission is pending should be sent to -mine states my intention to submit by August 31st which I believe is the minimum reasonable time needed.

The above email can also be used to register for notification of capital city forums which also haven’t been made public.

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