Senator Peter Whish-Wilson, Australian Greens spokesperson on Trade, said he was looking forward to getting an update on the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) talks today but said that the exclusion of the media from the Sydney briefing by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) was unacceptable.
"The TPPA trade talks are one of the most significant events facing this country today, as they potentially carry grave risks for Australia's sovereignty, society, and economy," said Senator Peter Whish-Wilson.
"Yet today we find that DFAT has cancelled invites already approved for members of the media.
"The Greens have long expressed concerns about the secrecy and lack of transparency surrounding free trade negotiations - especially in areas like agriculture, environmental and labor standards, public health and medicines, consumer rights, and the threat of an investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) regime that could allow multinational corporations to legally challenge Australian sovereignty on these issues.
"Contrary to what Tony Abbott says there is no solid evidence that past free trade agreements have delivered the economic benefits claimed and the current negotiations carry significant risks.
"Unless the Abbott Government removes the wall of secrecy, concerns will continue to build that the only thing 'free' about the TPPA is that it is a 'free for all' for giant, profit seeking multinational corporations looking after their own interests.
"Australia simply cannot afford to risk having global special interests dictating our environmental, industrial relations, health, consumer, or agricultural laws.
"The Australian community should have a say in future trade deals and that means total transparency, something the Greens will be acting on when Parliament sits," Senator Whish-Wilson concluded.