The TPP agenda is being driven by big business, big pharmaceuticals and big tobacco
Right now government officials from around the world are meeting in Hawai in what could be the last round of negotiations of the controversial Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement.
The leaked sections we've seen already have millions of citizens around the world worried, and the vast majority of it is still secret; not just to the public, but even to our own Parliamentarians. How's this for starters: any country who signs up for the TPP, it will give foreign corporations the power to sue the there Government for decisions they claim might impact their future investments in their country of orign.
We've already seen the dangerous implications of these powers play out in Australia. Similar provisions in an Australian-Hong Kong treaty are being used by US global cigarette and tobacco company, Phillip Morris, to sue the Australian Government over the introduction of plain-packaging laws. Imagine this sort of multinational interference scaled up involving 12 countries, instead of one?
If foreign corporations are given the power to sue national governments when changes to domestic laws affect their profit margins, it will inevitably restrict our government's ability to make laws to protect our environment and our health. What's worse, these lawsuits would be played out in secret international courts, which only corporations have access to, with no rights of appeal.
It's hard to believe this could happen in Australia, but there are already cases around the world of companies using what's known as Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) provisions to sue governments:
• A foreign-owned energy company filed a $250 million lawsuit against the Canadian government, when Quebec placed a ban on dangerous fracking processes in a local river.
• In El Salvador, a Canadian company is suing the government for $315 million in "loss of future profits" because local citizens won a hard-fought campaign against a gold mine that threatened to contaminate their water supplies.
• An international utilities company sued the Argentinian Government, for imposing a freeze on water and energy bills during the global financial crisis.
• In Canada, US pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly is suing the government for $500 million in compensation, because the courts revoked two of the company's patents citing lack of evidence around the drugs' supposed benefits.
Do we want to live in a countries where foreign-owned companies have the right to sue our government for introducing laws to protect our farms, land, water or even our health?
This is why we need to act quickly. As a testament to just how urgent our voices are needed and how hard the government has tried to keep this deal hush hush.
If this deal goes ahead, all of us stand to lose.
The deal is still being negotiated, but right now negotiators are meetings in Hawai'i in what could be the last of these meetings – so we need to act fast. The fight to stop the TPP is a huge, coordinated, international resistance and the more people who join the fight, the better our chances will be.