Turnbull and Robb give US corporations the right to sue Australia

media-releases
06 Oct 2015 | Peter Whish-Wilson
Trade

Malcolm Turnbull and Andrew Robb have done what John Howard and Mark Vaile refused to do: Via the TPP they have granted US corporations to the right to sue the Australian government over making laws in the public interest.

“The United States pushed hard for the inclusion of Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) provisions in the 2004 US Free Trade Agreement but then Australia refused.

Trade Minister Vaille said at the time, “If we had that mechanism in there, it would enable foreign direct investors—if they were aggrieved about a decision taken by a local government body or a state government—to seek a remedy extraterritorially. We do not believe that is necessary in an agreement between two highly developed economies with very transparent legal systems that provide the opportunity for remedy within the state where the dispute may exist…”

Senator Whish-Wilson continued, “United States corporations are the most avid user of ISDS and have brought forward at least 127 cases so far.

“The majority of ISDS cases are either won by the corporation or settled at great expense to the country being sued. Most ISDS cases from the US have involved disputes being brought by energy, mining, oil and gas companies.

“This is a watershed moment for the Liberals and the mining industry in their continuing assault against environmental protections in Australia. ISDS will provide a massive chilling effect against improvements in environmental law at a local, state and federal level.

“We won’t yet know what the wider impact the TPP will have on digital rights, copyright, health policy and financial regulation until we see the text.

“As the Productivity Commission has often said, the benefits of these deals are often oversold and the costs never discussed. I am calling on the government to come clean about what the costs to Australia will be from this deal.

“The TPP is part of a global deregulation agenda being pushed by large and mainly US corporations to inoculate them against democratic decisions made by sovereign governments.

“The TPP is not about free trade, it is about increased protections for big business in pharmaceuticals and copyright but limits governments’ ability to regulate against corporations’ impacts on the community and environment,” he concluded.