Wednesday 18th of September 2019

democracy in peril...

democracy in peril...

secretly destroying your democratic rights...


Mind boggling in its complexity (the US takes 80 specialists to each negotiation, Japan 120, and Australia 22) the negotiating text is secret. Robb says even most of the negotiators don't know what's in the whole thing. Each knows about little more than the chapter they are working on and there are more than 20 chapters. The text won't be made public until after the leaders shake hands, as is typical in international trade agreements.

But what is known, from draft chapters leaked to Wikileaks and from the generally more open US political system, suggests that it's about far more than trade.


When the US negotiated its 2004 free trade agreement with Australia it pushed to eliminate "price controls", by which it meant the prices set by Australia's Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme. What it got was an independent review process which had no authority to overturn decisions. Public health expert Dr Deborah Gleeson of La Trobe University says it's only been used twice. For the TPP the US wants something much stronger, the right to appeal against decisions and have them overturned. It would apply to decisions about both the prices charged for drugs and which drugs to include in the scheme (and in similar schemes in other countries).

Among Australia's most expensive medicines are so-called biologics - drugs or vaccines made from living organisms. They are used to treat conditions including breast cancer and multiple sclerosis. To get approved in Australia the manufacturer needs to submit data from clinical trials which remains confidential for 5 years, and is then available to competitors to use in seeking approval for much cheaper versions. The US wants signatories to the TPP to lift the period of exclusivity to 12 years, which is what it is in the US. It would mean up to 7 more years of very expensive biologic medicines in Australia before the prices drop. Gleeson and colleagues reckon the extension would cost Australia more than $205 million a year. Most of the money would go to US owned pharmaceutical companies.


removing your democratic choices...


The proposed Trans Pacific Partnership is likely to push up the price of medicines, stop some Australians from taking their medicines and make it harder to restrict the sale of tobacco and alcohol, a comprehensive review of the deal between Australia and 11 other nations including the US and Japan has found.

The so-called health impact statement, compiled by the Centre for Health Equity Training Research and Evaluation at the University of NSW relies on leaked texts of draft chapters of the agreement Australia is preparing to seal within weeks.

Although its stated aim is to bring down trade barriers and allow mutual recognition of standards, many of its provisions deal with medicines and make it difficult for member countries to move against foreign-owned corporations.

The health impact statement follows Commonwealth guidelines for such statements in place for more than a decade. Although such statements are not required for new projects in the same way as are environmental impact statements, they are an accepted procedure for establishing the impact of new proposals on health.


Prepared by five health specialists from the universities of Sydney, NSW and La Trobe the assessment took 15 months, beginning in late 2013 after some draft texts were published by Wikileaks.

The report says the US is seeking to prevent signatories from refusing to grant patents for minor variations to existing drugs even when there is no evidence of additional benefit. It says the provision would encourage "evergreening" where manufacturers gain extra patents to extend their monopolies in order to ward off competition from generics.

read more:


See toon at top... 


why would he?...

The Federal Trade Minister has labelled concerns over a regional free trade agreement known as the Transpacific Partnership (TPP) a "scare campaign".

Negotiators from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) have just concluded a week of talks in Hawaii, and Trade Minister Andrew Robb said the TPP could be signed in the next month.

The 12-country deal includes Australia, the United States, New Zealand and Malaysia and takes up 40 per cent of the world economy.

In an interview with the ABC, Mr Robb promised he would not sign anything that would harm Australia's health system.

"Why would I? Why would I go and tear up the system?" he said.

read more:


Why would he, I ask you?... Well, there has been many occasions when people sign contracts or "agreements", they forget to look at the small print which often make lawyers bread and butter... The French lost the islands of Jersey and Guernsey in such agreements... Not only that, the BIG print tells anyone-with-a-brain "DON'T SIGN THIS CRAP"... So a scare campaign? YES AND NEEDED TO BE. Why? Because most of the TPP is SECRET. Why is it secret? Because it's designed to benefit MULTINATIONALS and trash de-mo-cra-cy... 

joseph stiglitz does not mince his words...



Kill the TPP before it destroys your democratic rights.. see toon at top...

the TPP is a cancer on democracy...

Despite claims from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) states that a final agreement would be reached by the start of this year, the publication of the draft IP Chapter led to a backlash – no agreement was realised, country alignments have altered and negotiations continue. However, US negotiators have made a counter-attack. The latest leaked version of the draft text shows the United States pushing for measures that would significantly constrain affordable access to vital generic drugs, such as cancer drugs and treatments for communicable diseases such as Ebola.

The new US-tabled Article QQ.E.20 will force Parties to enact an automatic monopoly period (marketing exclusivity) for life-saving drugs, with a choice for the groups to decide for definitive inclusion within the treaty of 0, 5, 8 or 12 years. Experts state that the United States is pushing for the maximum 12 years, with the countries' Ministers to decide as the IP negotiators cannot agree on this controversial issue.

If the US is successful in their bid, or even the alternative 8-year period comes into place, the Obama Administration will have gone back on its promise to make cancer drugs affordable, having previously pledged to reduce the monopoly period on biotech drugs from 12 to 7 years. This will mean patients needing these drugs will remain with hugely expensive medical bills for years to come. These costs are also generally unattainable for citizens in the developing countries in the TPP.

Also new in the May 2014 text is a "drug company-friendly" version of the TRIPS agreement for compulsory licensing of vital drugs patents. This is a diminished version of the TRIPS agreement that was present in the 2013 text. In theory, by issuing a compulsory licence, a government can authorise cost-cutting generic competition with patented drugs, in exchange for royalty payments to the patent holder. It is a key tool to promote affordable access to medicines. The new exceptions are set out here and here, having deleted the option for "Other Use Without Authorisation of the Right Holder" in the August 2013 text. The current global norms for justifying exceptions to patents are set out in the TRIPS agreement under either Article 30 or 31. Article 30 is a 3-step test that is restrictive in what it grants exceptions for, and is open to interpretation with regards to procedures for doing these tests. Article 31 (referred to in the August 2013 text and now gone) is the one generally used on all compulsory licensing for HIV and cancer drugs. Whilst it is more restrictive, it is limited to cases where patent holders are paid, so as long as a drug qualifies (as most HIV and cancer drugs do) it is possible to get an exception to the patent held by big pharmaceutical companies, breaking big pharma's monopoly on life-saving drugs.

However, the new version of the text of the TPP IP Chapter has deleted the option to use this assessment procedure, requiring many judgement calls on aspects such as how this might "prejudice" the patent holder. This will mean that the procedure is more restrictive and open to interpretation, and therefore lobbying and manipulation. In short, the TPP will greatly reduce the ability for creating more affordable drugs to save more lives, and increase the pharmaceutical industry's ability to retain monopolies.

Country alignments have also shifted hugely since the WikiLeaks publication last year, where the TPP IP Chapter bracketed text showed Australia closely aligning with the United States throughout the text, joining with the US proposing and opposing statuses 64 times, considerably higher than the next highest. In the May 2014 text the United States has gotten a different closest ally: Japan – with whom it jointly proposes and opposes 32 times. Australia's new closest ally is New Zealand, and this trend to align within regions is now predominant in the Chapter. Links between Latin American countries are now strong, with close links to the poorer Asian countries Malaysia and Brunei.

Read more:

the TTP is designed to sink your democratic rights...

So why is there so much opposition to the biggest free trade deal of them all, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)?

From chief justice Robert French to the union movement and digital rights activists, concern centres on the blandly named clause dealing with Investor-State Dispute Resolutions (ISDS).

Controversial past of investor clauses

ISDS agreements in trade deals have a long and controversial past.

They began life as a means of encouraging foreign investment into developing countries, lowering the investor's risk by giving them a means to sue corrupt governments for arbitrary decisions that hit their bottom lines.

But over the decades, thanks to the creative legal skills of corporate lawyers, the boundaries have been pushed on what ISDS clauses can cover.

Even mature, democratically-elected governments, acting on what they judge to be in their citizens' interests, have fallen foul of investor clauses.

Australia's plain cigarette packing legislation, passed by the Gillard government, is one example.

Philip Morris is using an ISDS clause in an old and poorly-written trade deal to sue the government.

There are, according to some estimates, around 550 such cases against governments underway worldwide.

And it is not just public health initiatives.

secret, unaccountable, antidemocratic power grab...

Newly leaked documents reveal the TPP to be an immense corporate power grab aimed squarely at subverting democracy. Sarah Lazare from Common Dreams reports.

NEWLY LEAKED classified documents show that the secretive Trans-Pacific Partnership deal, if it goes through as written, will dramatically expand the power of corporations to use closed-door tribunals to challenge – and supersede – domestic laws, including environmental, labor, and public health, and other protections.

The tribunals, made infamous under NAFTA, were exposed in the "Investment Chapter" from the TPP negotiations, which was released to the public by WikiLeaks last week.

Julian Assange, the WikiLeaks editor, said

"The TPP has developed in secret an unaccountable supranational court for multinationals to sue states."

He added: 

"This system is a challenge to parliamentary and judicial sovereignty. Similar tribunals have already been shown to chill the adoption of sane environmental protection, public health and public transport policies."

don't believe anything robb says...


Eight health and community organisations have written to the Trade Minister Andrew Robb expressing "grave concerns" about the latest leaked draft of the nearly concluded Trans Pacific Partnership trade agreement.

The draft of the investment chapter published by Wikileaks last week outlines the controversial investor‐state dispute settlement mechanism which would allow foreign corporations to sue governments in offshore tribunals.

It includes a footnote proposing to exempt Australia from the mechanism in accordance with the position of the previous Labor government followed by a note saying that the deletion of the footnote is "subject to certain conditions". A separate annex to the draft says Australia's Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme, Medicare Benefits Scheme, Therapeutic Goods Administration and the Office of the Gene Technology would not be subject to the mechanism.

"While we agree that these programs should definitely not be subject to  investor‐state dispute settlement clauses, we are concerned that the inclusion of this annex indicates that the Australian government may not have confidence in the 'safeguards' in the investment chapter," the letter says.  "We are very concerned about the implications for other public health policies and programs which are not named as specific exclusions."

The letter is signed by the Australian Federation of AIDS Organisations, the Australian Health Promotion Association, the Australian Fair Trade and Investment Network, the Australian Medical Students Association, the NSW Nurses and Midwives' Association, the Centre for Health Equity Training Research and Evaluation, the Public Health Advocacy Institute of Western Australia and the Public Health Association of Australia.

The eight organisations last month released a health impact assessment which found that the the investor‐state dispute settlement clauses were a threat to public health and recommended that ISDS be excluded from the agreement altogether.

"If the clauses are to be included in the agreement, what we want to see is safeguards that prevent corporations from making claims against governments over policies like tobacco plain packaging, limits on alcohol advertising and food labelling requirements," said Michael Moore of the Public Health Association of Australia. "As it stands, the chapter appears to allow these sorts of policies to be challenged."

Last week's Harper Competition Review criticised the secrecy of the talks recommending that future trade negotiations by informed by an independent and open analysis of the costs and benefits of any proposed intellectual property provisions.

The talks between Australia and 11 other Pacific nations have reached their final stage.

Mr Robb has said he will not sign anything that harms Australia's health system.

read more:



Robb would not have a clue as to what would "harm Australia's health system" or not, considering his turdy chief is trying to dismantle Medicare, bit by bit... Robb cannot be trusted to understand anything about the TPP...

Destroy the TPP thingster.

consolidating the empire in a hurry...

WASHINGTON — Key congressional leaders agreed on Thursday on legislation to give President Obama special authority to finish negotiating one of the world’s largest trade accords, opening a rare battle that aligns the president with Republicans against a broad coalition of Democrats.

In what is sure to be one of the toughest fights of Mr. Obama’s last 19 months in office, the “fast track” bill allowing the White House to pursue its planned Pacific trade deal also heralds a divisive fight within the Democratic Party, one that could spill into the 2016 presidential campaign.

With committee votes planned next week, liberal senators such as Sherrod Brown of Ohio are demanding to know Hillary Rodham Clinton’s position on the bill to give the president so-called trade promotion authority, or T.P.A.

read more:

TPP in limbo...

WASHINGTON — Senate Democrats handed President Obama a stinging rebuke on Tuesday, blocking consideration of legislation granting their own president accelerated power to complete a major trade accord with Asia.

The Senate voted 52-45 on a procedural motion to begin debating the bill to give the president “trade promotion authority,” eight votes short of the 60 needed to proceed. Republicans and pro-trade Democrats said they would try to negotiate a trade package that could clear that threshold.

But the vote Tuesday presented Mr. Obama what might be a no-win situation. He may have to accept trade enforcement provisions he does not want in order to propel the trade legislation through the Senate, but those same provisions might doom the Pacific trade negotiations that legislation is supposed to lift.

read more:

trading with the devil...

That's all thanks to the US Senate, which has just given US president Barack Obama what he's been waiting for: fast track authority to sign the TPP, without having to debate it in the Congress. Australia's trade minister doesn't need that approval—Andrew Robb only has to submit the deal to parliament after it's been signed. Parliament will then have two options—vote for the TPP, or against it.

This alarms even the pro-business Productivity Commission: it reported last month that, given the growing potential for trade deals to impose costs on the community, there was a 'compelling case for the final text of an agreement to be rigorously analysed before signing.'

That followed a warning the Productivity Commission issued back in 2011: the government should 'seek to avoid' the inclusion of a specific provision, known as ISDS—or investor state dispute settlement—in all future trade deals.

What is ISDS? Put bluntly, it's a provision that allows foreign investors to sue governments for policy decisions that harm their investments.

read more:

when politicians are worse than the devil...


The Trans-Pacific Partnership isn't about trade and it's certainly not about free trade. It's about entrenching the interests of major corporations at the expense of ordinary citizens, writes Ian Verrender.

Where is Cleisthenes when you really need him?

The man considered the father of democracy would be aghast at the turn of events last week, when 12 countries around the Pacific Rim gathered together and happily agreed to sell out their citizens, to elevate the interests of global corporations above their own sovereign law.

Before he rose to power, half a millennium before the birth of Christ, Athens was presided over by an aristocratic class that governed for the wealthy alone. Cleisthenes delivered power to the people, a concept that has formed the basis of modern Western states for the past several hundred years.

That could all be about to change, courtesy of the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

It's been variously lauded as a foundation stone for our future prosperity, a triumph for free trade and something about which we can boast to our children and grandchildren.

It is none of those things.

The Trans-Pacific Partnership is more about protectionism than trade. It was conceived as a regional defence pact, to corral Pacific Rim nations into a formal bloc in an effort to counter the rising military and economic might of China.

Driven by the United States, what measures were devoted to trade overwhelmingly were focused on exactly the opposite; extending monopoly powers of American corporations and maintaining tariffs and quotas for US farmers unable to compete in a free trade world.

Only a politician could be so cynical.

read more:


See toon at top...


bye bye... good bye...

your job...

TPPs are destroying democratic rights AND jobs...



MJ: The Democratic Party has been divided on trade since the 1990s, when Bill Clinton pushed through NAFTA with Republican support. President Obama's Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement with 12 Pacific Rim countries was supposed to win over the liberal wing of the Democratic Party by better protecting workers and the environment. What happened?

LC: A year ago, President Obama said to me, "Larry, you must admit, the language is a lot better in here." And I said, "Yeah, the language is a lot better, but the problem is with enforcement."

MJ: Give me an example.

LC: I worked on a case in Honduras involving the murder of labor organizers and the collapse of bargaining rights. When there's complaints, the International Labor Affairs Bureau does an investigation. It takes them at least two years. Then you get a report eventually, and then it goes to the US Trade Representative. This is the guy who is gung ho for all these deals in the first place. When he gets to it, he meets with his foreign counterpart. They had one meeting on Honduras. It can move, after years and years, to a loss of some trade preferences. TPP enumerates that a little bit more clearly. But that's years and years, and by that point, you know?

MJ: The jobs are long gone?

LC: It's not just the jobs. It was people being butchered! The bottom line is: Multinational corporations get reparations. We get reports.

MJ: In other words, companies get to sue to protect their interests but workers and environmental groups do not?

LC: Right. Companies get to sue under what's known as "investor state dispute settlement." Occidental Petroleum got $3 billion from Ecuador because, after the bilateral agreement with the US, Ecuador said, "No more coastal drilling." That impacted Occidental's profit. They got an award last year of $3 billion for their lost future profit. Ecuador doesn't have $3 billion, so it's in limbo, but probably they will let them drill. TransUnion is suing the US over Keystone: $15 billion. Vattenfall, which is a Swedish energy company, is suing Germany for $5 billion euros because [German Chancellor Angela] Merkel, a conservative, said we're going to shut down nuclear after Fukushima. These are examples. That has been the history of 25 years of so-called improvements in side agreements in trade.


Read more:


"Chapter after chapter [of the TPP] was written by corporate lobbyists. Nothing was written by people like me."

Time for a revolution...


saved by trump...

The hearings are held in secret at a secret location — an idea that does not quite gel with the concept of "free" or democracy.

The combined effect of all these measures was to elevate the legal status of multi-national corporations, any of which openly flout their tax obligations, above the rights of citizens in the countries in which they operate.

To give our federal pollies credit, they did manage to face off against the US and refused to give ground on extending patents, particularly on medicines.

But that was only after an outcry from those who understood what went down in the US-Australia free trade agreement more than a decade ago.

Just as now, it was intellectual property rights that formed a large part of that deal — a baffling 11,500-word chapter that is open to legal interpretation and allows firms to cherry pick their obligations.

Deal adds cost, complexity to international trade

When it was signed in 2004, Tony Abbott was health minister and promised the deal would not have any detrimental impact on Australia's health system and the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme.

Unfortunately, as a result of that trade deal, from 2007 on, the Australian Government could no longer use a method called "reference pricing" to screw down the cost of medicines.

Ironically, in his first budget, then treasurer Joe Hockey cited the soaring cost of health care as one reason for an austerity drive.

"Over the past decade, the Pharmaceutical Benefits System has increased by 80 per cent," he told the Parliament.

Economists generally are in favour of free trade. But few endorse free trade agreements, particularly bilateral agreements.

That is because, rather than enhancing free trade, they distort trade patterns. Rather than do the best deal possible, trading partners engage with each other because of a preferential agreement.

read more:'t-make-a-lick-of-difference/8061906

sunk by trudeau....


Danang Vietnam: Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has sabotaged a pact to salvage a multibillion-dollar, 11-nation Pacific Rim trade deal at the last minute, surprising leaders of the other nations, including Australia's Malcolm Turnbull.

Mr Trudeau failed to show up at a meeting late on Friday that was set to officially revive the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement that had been negotiated on the sidelines of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in the Vietnamese coastal city of Danang.

read more:


Read from top...


the apostrophe man mucks it up..

The Trans-Pacific Partnership deal legislation is due to hit the parliament this week. Labor has given it’s [sic] support to it, despite the discomfort from almost half the caucus.


Read more:


The TPP should be canned, destroyed, buried, cremated and placed in a shaff bag to be dropped at sea... Meanwhile the apostrophe man has struck a deal with Grandma grammar: It should be its not it's...


Read from top.