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WARNING: Beware of Abbott’s “Free Trade” Trojan horse!

Image courtesy of australiahistory.com

Image courtesy of australiahistory.com

Does Tony have a cunning plan to do the politically impossible? asks Letitia McQuade.

Letitia continues:

Every so often someone does something so totally unfathomable, something so seemingly devoid of common sense that one is left scratching one’s head asking, “Why would anyone do that? What could they possibly hope to gain?”

While there are, to my mind, large swathes of government policy that fall into that category, few things have left me quite as perplexed as the possible inclusion of the so called ISDR provisions in any future Australian free trade agreements.

For those of you that haven’t been following this, ISDR is an acronym for “Investor State Dispute Resolution”, and in a nut shell what that would mean is that any foreign corporation (operating under an ISDR provision), that finds that our laws interfere with their business has the right to sue our governments for damages. Outrageous, right?

Want to ban GMOs? Well stuff you SA and TAS, here comes Monsanto with it’s bully boy lawyers and war chest bigger than your state budget. Hey NSW, want to legislate environmental protections to stop coal seam gas destroying the water table on your precious farm land? Not unless you’re prepared to pay out hundreds of millions in compensation, you don’t!

Since deregulation and FTAs (free trade agreements) came into play in the 80s successive Australian governments – from both sides of the house – have viewed ISDRs as categorically not in Australia’s best interests, and had the good sense to rule them out point blank.

So why has Tony put ISDRs back on the negotiating table? Especially when the US has already accepted our refusal to include them. Given that we currently have a free trade agreement with the US that appears to be working quite well without them, Abbott’s move to include them in the ongoing TPP (Trans Pacific Partnership) negotiations seems like total lunacy. I mean really, it’s basic negotiation 101, you never freely offer up something (that will cost you dearly), that the other party is prepared to forgo.

This has been troubling me for weeks now. Why would Abbott do this? ISDR provisions are such a profound threat to our national sovereignty. For Tony to put them back on the table seems to defy all logic.

By all accounts Abbott is not a stupid man, so what it he up to? What is his end game for such a seemingly unfathomable act?

But then it occurred to me, Abbott is a man with an agenda, a largely corporate agenda. After all, it’s no secret where he sits politically. He has found a comfy chair to the right of Turnbull, Howard, Hewson and Fraser, and firmly planted himself at the ultra right table with his corporate buddies Rinehart, Murdoch et al (and with friends like that there can be no doubt he is headed for a VERY lucrative payday after his stint in the lodge).

Abbott has long been known for his antipathy towards any measures that “interfere” with corporate profits, whether it be a fair level of tax on mining companies, legislated environmental protection or plain packaging for cigarettes (a move he was eventually forced to support after a backbench and voter backlash). We all know there is nothing Abbott isn’t prepared to throw under the bus in the name of corporate profits . . . unless, of course, it is politically costly to him!

And this is where ISDR clauses could come in handy for him. Just when we are snuggly tucked up in our beds, feeling confident we are in safe fiscal hands, these ISDRs will crawl out from deep within the belly of our shiny new FTAs, paving the way for legions of corporate lawyers to descend on our states and territories with multi million dollar lawsuits against our public purse . . . That is of course unless the government obligingly removes the offending legislations.

Oh, now I get it! And I think it goes something like this, “the government doesn’t WANT to allow oil wells in the middle of the great barrier reef, but if we don’t do it this big bad international corp will sue us all the way to the poor house, which means cutting services, health and education etc . . . better to just amend the laws and let them put the wells in, and then we can all profit from it”.

While I realise that such a hypothetical scenario may sound a bit extreme, under an ISDR it’s not wholly impossible and it’s the only explanation I can think of that actually makes any sense?. Hmmm . . . Am I being too cynical? Lori Wallach, director of Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch, doesn’t think so. She was quoted in Huffington Post talking on the EU-US FTA negotiations:

The dirty little secret about ISDR’s is that they are not mainly about trade, but rather target for elimination the strongest consumer, health, safety, privacy, environmental and other public interest policies. The investor-state system empowers individual corporations and investors to skirt domestic courts and laws and drag signatory governments to foreign tribunals.

Let’s face it, no government, left or right, would win the support of the people in actively advocating for the wholesale destruction of our environment in the name of corporate profit; but if our governments were faced with paying billions in damages, many of us might just be tempted to change our minds. After all, the government can’t be expected to pay out all those damages and still afford to keep all those expensive social services going, can they? They would be faced with some tough choices!

Maybe I am being a little dramatic, but a quick look at Canada’s experience with the ISDR is a quite sobering and it should be setting off alarm bells loud enough for us to hear all the way from Ottawa.

For example, Canada recently denied a patent application for a drug that failed to meet the conditions for patent under Canadian law, and this led a US pharma company to demand $100 million in compensation. Whether their claim will be upheld in court is yet to be seen, but one thing is certain, even if the Canadian Government prevails defending the case won’t come cheap.

And this is just one of many law suits Canada has had to contend with. Here are some others:

Dow AgroSciences, a U.S. corporation, served a claim for losses allegedly caused by Quebec’s ban on the sale and certain uses of lawn pesticides containing 2,4-D.

Chemtura Corporation, a US pesticide manufacturer, has alleged that through its Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA), Canada wrongfully terminated its pesticide business and issued a claim.

Lone Pine Resources is currently suing Canada for over $250 million in response to Quebec’s moratorium on coal seam gas fracking.

The list goes on an on. In 2012 over 500 multi million dollar law suits where lodged globally under ISDR provisions. In fact Ecuador had to pay out $1.77 billion in a single settlement to Occidental Petroleum, as a result of having ISDR clauses in their FTA.

Be very afraid, as this article, Investor-State Dispute Resolution: The Monster Lurking Inside Free Trade Agreements warns.

And where is the media on this issue? Once again, like the faithful old dog they are, they appear to be napping at the feet of their corporate masters. Have none of them even read the Coalition’s Trade Policy? It’s all there in black and white. Quote:“The Coalition will take a pragmatic approach to trade negotiations and will consult widely with industry bodies and associations to ensure that stakeholder priorities are taken into account.This includes remaining open to utilising investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) clauses as part of Australia’s negotiating position”.

The policy also promises to “fast track the conclusion of free trade agreements with China, South Korea, Japan, India, the Gulf Cooperation Council and Indonesia”, and to “explore the feasibility of free trade agreements with other trading partners including the European Union, Brazil, Hong Kong, Papua New Guinea, South Africa and Taiwan”.

While it’s possible that ISDS clauses won’t wind up in all of those agreement, they will, as the policy states, form part of Australia’s negotiating position.

So why are the Coalition in such a rush to sign off all these new FTA’s? (Especially the TPP, which could easily usher in the ISDR clauses that are currently excluded in our Australian-US FTA). And why are the Coalition so hell bent on keeping the terms of these negotiations secret?

The Coalition is looking to present this new round FTAs as a shining example of their “getting down to business” and delivering good outcomes for Australia, but we need to seriously ask ourselves, do we really want Tony opening our door to ISDR clauses?

We’ll only get make this mistake once, and we may be stuck with the some very expensive consequences, forever! This is a very dangerous course for Australia to be taking. We need to keep a firm eye on this Trojan horse and slam the door hard in it’s face.

But how?

 


75 comments

  1. mikestasse

    Why would Abbott do this? MO-RON………

    This particular idiocy has me seething……… I can’t remember being this angry over a government, not even Howard’s…. what the hell have we done to deserve this deadshit?

    Great article Michael…

  2. Stuart Dean

    Remember that TA is a sociopath. It’s all about power and control. He has no empathy. John Howard refused to sign – Abbott has said that Howard is his mentor, his hero. Only by appealing to Howard on this issue, to advise Abbott not to sign can we have any hope of stopping it. But then, going by the inanities Howard has been saying lately, that may not occur, either.

  3. cuppa

    The Liberal stinkers have already outsourced the shaping of political discourse in “our” democracy to an American citizen, Rupert Murdoch. It’s easy to see them placing Australian government sovereignty second to foreign corporate interests. They’d sell their own (and anybody else’s) grandmother, these Abbottoirs.

  4. Vicki

    Why are Bill Shorten et al not screaming from the rooftops in protest about this? Why are the Australian public not being fully informed as to the potential consequences of Abbott signing off on this? People I speak to, reasonable politically aware, do not know of this clause and are surprised when I explain what it is and what it could do.

  5. joy cooper

    To care for no one but himself is typical of the psychopathic Abbott. He would sell Australia down the river to gain a cushy job for himself in his next phase of life. He needs the help of powerful allies as his only talents are cunning & mendacity. Good for business but not much else.

    One has to wonder just how truly patriotic Abbott is & what his citizenship status is, although his born in Oz cabinet ministers seem to be going along with this outrageous ISDR. Not a peep against it from the likes of J Bishop, Robb & Hockey.

  6. Ruth Townsend

    Nicely written Michael. Thanks for raising awareness of the issue.

  7. cuppa

    Joy, Abbott was born in England and came here in….A BOAT!!

  8. joy cooper

    Yep, cuppa, knew that. Typically, his middle class well-to-do boat people parents used assisted passage, meant only for those in need, to get here. Weasels.

    No one seems to be able to tell me if Abbott has actually taken out Australian citizenship. Certainly doesn’t ever appear to have Australia’s best interests at heart, only his own.

  9. CMMC

    http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=nong

    Nong. That great Australian description has found an host of exemplars in the LNP regime.

    BTW, notice how you don’t see microphones from Media Monitors anymore when government members deign to speak to reporters?

    Who has been paying this organisation to hound every member of Federal Labor for the last 10 years?

  10. Carol Stuart

    I am not familiar with the laws, but is this serious enough to call for a government to be sacked? History is Whitlam was sacked, is it possible to do the same with Abbott?

  11. SilverBear

    Oh dear. It’s sunday morning and I’m in that dark place again. I’ve read George Monbiot’s piece in the Guardian, and snaps up to you Michael, but I’m left wondering what do I do? It’s also raining here, so climate change if of less concern, but seriously, what can anyone suggest an individual do?

  12. Kaye Lee

    If you think Michael is being alarmist this is already happenning. We are already being sued for our plain packaging laws.

    “The Philip Morris tobacco company is currently suing the Australian government over its tobacco plain packaging legislation, using an obscure 1993 Hong Kong- Australia investment treaty. Philip Morris is actually a US-based company, but could not sue under the US-Australia Free Trade Agreement, because public opposition kept this clause out of the agreement. Philip Morris rearranged its assets to become a Hong Kong investor in order to use an obscure treaty. This shows how giant global companies can abuse such clauses in trade agreements,’’ said Dr Ranald.

    “Big tobacco is also reportedly providing legal advice and funding to the Ukraine and Honduras Governments which have launched a complaint in the World Trade Organisation (WTO) on the grounds that the Australian legislation is contrary to a WTO intellectual property agreement. WTO complaints must be made by Governments, not companies,” added Dr Ranald.

    http://aftinet.org.au/cms/node/519

  13. cassilva48

    You ask why Abbott/Hockey will do this. He is prepared to sell Australia down the river just so he can say he got our economy into the black. No these corporations cannot take the land with them but they can monopolise what grows on them and will have ready buyers of their products through their American supermarket chains already established in Australia. As one poster suggested, GMO’s will become par for the course.

  14. Anomander

    Abbott is the most dangerous and divisive leader this nation has ever had and his headlong rush to sign the TPP will be viewed as the defining moment. The day Australia surrendered it’s sovereignty and the Corporations assumed control.

    Tony is like one of those archetypal characters often seen in films and books; the greedy, sneaky, wily but ultimately stupid man who has been promised wealth and power (by some evil person of entity) to perform the ultimate act of betrayal. Ultimately, you know he’s merely a pawn, he may temporarily get his power or riches, but you also know he is going to be destroyed by the evil force, once his usefulness has expired.

    Tony is that man and he has sold his soul to the Corporations. The signing of the TPP is the his act of betrayal. I fully suspect he may even know it is wrong, but he has been so thoroughly indoctrinated now, and his beliefs are so firm – it matters not. He will get just just rewards when the Corporations take over and he is elevated ever further (as they have told him), as long as he does the bidding of his Corporate masters.

  15. Kaye Lee

    You ask why Tony Abbott would consider this. Well have a look at who sponsors his pollie pedal rides.

    “Max Markson said that if AMGEN was paying $80,000 a year to have Tony Abbott promote their brand that it was sponsorship that was ‘cheap at twice the price’ and praised AMGEN for supporting a worthy cause and said that he wouldn’t be surprised if, because AMGEN will get an effective free kick from Tony Abbott’s elevation to the Prime Ministership, they didn’t tip a little extra into the Pollie Pedal hat next time around.”

    AMGEN is a pharmaceutical firm and one of several who cough up tens of thousands of dollars in sponsorship. They have a vested interest in making sure ISDRs go through because they want to extend monopoly pricing on drugs by ‘evergreening’ patents. Drug patents last for 20 years after which time much cheaper generic medicines can be produced. The drug companies want to be able to slightly change a drug and repatent it eliminating cheaper alternatives.

    They also look on our Pharmaceutical Benefit Scheme as a hindrance to free trade and their ability to charge whatever the market will pay for medicine. The PBS could be at risk if this goes through.

  16. franc hoggle

    This is truly absurd. The Trans-Pacific Partenership is Abbott’s fault? Really? The Labor Party spent it’s entire term in government kowtowing to US demands on this; organising secret meetings where all independent scrutiny was locked out; jumping through hoops to sabotage FOI requests for TPP documents; and otherwise doing everything humanly possible to keep journalists and the public in the dark about it.

    Why is it only now, a decade on, that you have suddenly woken up to the TPP? Why did you not subject the Gillard/Rudd government to the same kind of relentless scrutiny on this surrender to US interests? The TPP was cemented by *them*. Abbott is only picking up the tail end where they left off. All the work has already been done by Labor – he’s just left to sign the forms.

    If Labor truly represented citizens instead of lobbyists, they would have killed the TPP dead. They had many opportunities to do so. Instead, they enthusiastically drove it forward, behind closed doors and shrouded in secrecy. You are shooting the wrong goat blaming Abbott, as convenient as it is for you.

    http://aftinet.org.au/cms/

  17. cassilva48

    Kaye, Millions have been spent on plain packaging, and it has not made one Iota of difference to smokers. Millions also spent through the Quit program, which is a complete failure, it has spent millions on executive salaries for those employed by the program and all they do is spend smokers taxes sporting events, which suggest that it is not OK to smoke but it is OK to take other illegal substances. Smokers are the scapegoats that everyone feels justified in punishing. Diabetes is now at epidemic levels in the community yet no tax on sugared products and corporations whose products have contributed to this disease.
    The amount of polution that a smoker puts into the air would pale into comparison with the amount of carbon monoxide one inhales while having a latte at your favourite coffee shop.

    I would like to see statistics for non-smokers who succumb to cancer. If the Quit program is working and people have either given up or never taken up smoking, there should be less and less cancer in the community, yet it doesn’t seem so.

    It intrigues me that our parents were all heavy smokers and ate animal fats (but little sugar) yet they are surviving longer than those that have abstained? Any thoughts?

    Cass

  18. cassilva48

    Well Franc,if Labor got it wrong, the Liberals should get it right and not go ahead with it!

  19. Heather

    The nature of people like Abbott is that they love the fear factor, and choose to ramp it up. It gives them the power. Deep in there somewhere they are cowards and very insecure. The ramping up of chaos and causing fear to the hearts of people is how they operate. Putting all power in to the hands of the big guys, is just his thing. Monsanto GMOs everywhere and the masses on chemical meds would be just what I’d love.

    I heard way back people talking about Pioneer Concrete as mad guys, and it was probably when he was involved with this company. They are the types of people who have to smash through doorways in order to make a big stand. Not to mention smashing everything people hold dear…namely their self autonomy and freedom.

    Very destructive and very insecure, are the likes of Abbott. Howard was the same, you know. See how he rushed at the massacre in Tassie, how he rushed at 911, and how he loved the “children overboard” for his own political purposes. The little scaremonger was raring to go. They are ghoulish types.Abbott pretends he is endlessly considered but there is not a considered bone in his body about other people…only his agendam and his only.

    Even him saying to Gillard after she had lost “you have had a rough time”, was a nasty dig, and a guy trying to stave off the bad karma of what he had exacted on her govt and our country.

    The whole terrible thing is I dont want to hear about Abbott and his cronies anymore. Such is my aversion.
    They are very creepy people, you know. But they do this aversion-absolute stuff so they can grab full control, No doubt about Abbott he would be doing just this. He would rip the child off the mother’s breast for his own purpose and power.

  20. Kaye Lee

    franc hoggle that is untrue.

    “The federal government is standing firm against Australian and US business demands that it allow controversial dispute settlement clauses into an ambitious new Pacific free trade deal.

    The federal government last year issued a new trade policy, in which it ruled out supporting such clauses, arguing they ran the risk of giving foreign business greater legal rights than domestic businesses.

    The government believes such clauses could also constrain its ability to make laws on social, environmental and economic matters.

    Trade Minister Craig Emerson on Monday said the government would not change its position.

    “We do not and will not support investor-state dispute settlement provisions,” Dr Emerson told reporters on Monday.

    “This is government policy.

    “It’s the result of a cabinet decision in April last year, reaffirmed at the (ALP) national conference.”

    http://news.smh.com.au/breaking-news-national/labor-standing-firm-on-pacific-trade-deal-20120305-1ue2b.html

  21. Kaye Lee

    franc hoggle did you even read your own link?

    “With the change in government in Australia there has been a change in trade policy. The new government will be open to allowing foreign companies to sue governments for damages if their policies or laws are seen to harm their investment”

  22. Greg

    I am becoming a firm believer in the concept of political assassination, as well as for the leaders of business and destroyers of the environment. There has to be a point when the people get so shafted by those who have stolen the leadership that killing the bastards is the only option. Is Monsanto ever going to pull back from its desired goals of total domination of the worlds food supply, are foresters every going to say ” well, that is enough trees chopped down for now” . Very doubtful, and the courts are very unlikely to ever again work in people’s best interests, particularly with these corrupt politicians. When is enough enough, before our freedoms are gone forever? How much did the Occupy Movement achieve, when MSM bothered to report on it? Zero. How much will our protestations about this issue achieve. Zero. Romania was right. So, who would have complained if hitler was assasinated in 1933?

  23. bighead1883

    This is for all Occupiers.

    Just how aware are we of the propaganda of perception
    That is carried on well after the election
    We`re slowly eroding all sense of humanity
    Where the shallowness of self is the only reality
    The neo conservative house of greed
    Wants you to believe that it`s more that you need
    The enemy is the one that may take from yore
    The things that you`ve worked generationally for
    The lifestyle,the job,the future you`ve planned for
    Because you see that it`s you and me who they`ve come for
    They do not want a caring,sharing or fair society
    The I`ll be right jack mentality to them fits a nicety
    So you see in the future we`re not going to need you
    The TPP has been invented to covertly govern and screen you
    We do not care that you vote or you rally
    Our corporate police are whom with you`ll sally
    They will deny you any humanity or rights
    And split open your head for the barest of slights
    And those of you who survive and take this to court
    We`ll show who owns you as all your efforts are nought
    Because we have a mandate to cheat lie and deceive
    Now we`ll give Rupert Murdoch all the tools that he needs
    To finish the job on all you brainwashed and dumb dww.ee.bs.

  24. Kaye Lee

    “Smoking is recognised as the largest single preventable cause of death and disease in Australia. It is associated with an increased risk of heart disease, stroke, cancer, emphysema, bronchitis, asthma, renal disease and eye disease. Tobacco contains the powerfully addictive stimulant nicotine, which can make smoking a regular and long-term habit that is not easy to quit.

    The Australian Government’s tobacco control strategies, such as mass media public education campaigns, high tobacco taxes, advertising bans and smoke-free environment legislation, have helped with the steady decline in smoking rates over recent decades. Between 1991 and 2010, the proportion of daily smokers aged 14 years and over decreased by almost 40%”

    http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/Lookup/4125.0main+features3320Jan%202013#ENDNOTES

    “Plain packaging on tobacco products is associated with lower smoking appeal, greater support for the policy and a higher urgency to quit among adult smokers, a new study has found”

    http://theconversation.com/plain-cigarette-packaging-works-study-16269

  25. Kaye Lee

    Will the Productivity Commission be gagged too, or sacked?

    “Productivity Commission tells the truth about free trade agreements

    A year-long investigation of Australia’s free trade agreements has found they are often nothing of the kind.

    The Productivity Commission has told the Gillard government there is little evidence to suggest Australia’s six free trade agreements have produced “substantial commercial benefits”.

    Some may have actually reduced trade by introducing complex rules that make it difficult for Australia to sell goods made with products imported from countries not party to the agreements.

    The net present value of the extra copyright costs imposed on Australia by the provisions agreed to by the Howard government when it signed the US-Australia agreement might amount to $700 million.

    “And this is a pure transfer overseas, and hence pure cost to Australia,” the report says.

    It finds provisions inserted in the US Australia agreement granting drug manufacturers greater rights in their dealings with Australia’s Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme had real potential for adverse outcomes and that “vigilance was required to ensure this did not arise”.

    The Commission says before agreeing to further FTA’s Australia should first consider whether other options could deliver similar or greater benefits at less cost, among them trade facilitation, investor protection and mutual recognition of standards.”

    http://www.petermartin.com.au/2010/12/productivity-commission-tells-truth.html

  26. Nick

    Regarding the little “Labor set it up” sideshow going on here, whether or not that’s true is ultimately irrelevant. It’s an atrocious path for any government to go down, and partisan squabbling over responsibility is just the sort of thing those in power love – the more supporters of each of the parties spend their time sniping at each other the less time they will spend objecting to the real agenda. Opposing this outrageous policy should be bipartisan, and given the international dimension it’s pretty myopic of anyone to frame it as a domestic australian issue.

  27. Stuart Dean

    Kaye Lee – petition signed and shared. Thanks!

  28. bighead1883

    Agree Nick,we all must fight the signing of the TPP.

  29. Mary

    I’m so disappointed that you used those black and white stripes today of all days!

    Think ZEBRA – if you don’t suspect it, you can’t detect it!

    I Know that was your intent but……………today, 10th November, is NET cancer day to raise awareness of Neuroendocrine cancers around the world. NETs has adopted the zebra, reason being that it is very difficult to detect
    http://netcancerday.org/

    Sorry, the Tony Abbott free trade thing is very important to me too.

  30. Kaye Lee

    Nick it used to be a bipartisan issue. It is only Abbott that has put it back on the table. Even Howard recognised the danger. The Productivity Commission said free trade agreements were of dubious value and potentially very damaging but Tony is beholden to big business so he appears to be disregarding all this advice.

  31. blakescrossing@gmail.com

    I really don’t like this world.

  32. Mic

    Free Trade Agreements are NOT “Free”. Exports get priority over domestic needs. Keeping the numbers small, use coal as an example. Australia produces, say, 12M tonnes of coal a year. Domestically we use 3M tonnes each year and under a FTA we supply the remaining 9M tonnes to the u.s., at prices so low we may as well be paying them to take it away. 2014 rolls around and we suffer a shortfall, only producing 6M tonnes. What happens? The u.s. gets priority and takes the whole bleedin’ lot, 1/2 of Australia’s population freezes to death and we’re indebted to the u.s. for the balance of 3M tonnes of coal.
    Who needs bombs to destroy a country? Just talk the government into signing a “Free” Trade Agreement and send the whole country broke.

    As far as an IRDS is concerned, the majority of “slightly educated” Australian consumers don’t want Genetically Mutilated Foods, and Abbott wants to give carte blanche to Monsanto!? I can already see States and NT succeeding from “Australia”.

  33. Michael Taylor

    Thank you to those people who are complimenting me for the article, but I must point out that it is a guest post from Letitia McQuade.

  34. Michael Taylor

    It’s a bit of a mess, isn’t it? 🙁

  35. Gina

    Reblogged this on “In my own opinion” and commented:
    I’m hoping Abbott gets sacked for this. I doubt it though! Wanker!

  36. doctorrob54

    Thank goodness Michael you are on to it and in a very big way,I know for a fact every thing you have stated is true and now all who has seen this blog knows also.This must never happen to this nation,I am convinced this is Abbotts main plan,he is a psycho and each day is getting more dangerous.Apart from doing something radical to halt this all one can legally do is warn all those prepared to listen and take it seriously and hope he is exposed in time.Mate I am worried.

  37. 'george hanson'

    @ VICKI 8-55 .The MSM will not allow any dissenting information to occur . Ruppie saw to that during the last election . This will occur because we let the abbot and the goon squad get hold of the levers. Enjoy your children while you can , before they are sold to the highest bidder .

  38. Anomander

    As I was reading this story, a frightening image arose in my mind of how much the corporations are like versions of ancient Golems.

    For those unfamiliar with the tale, the golem was a man shaped from clay, an artificial construct, designed to do the difficult or dangerous work on our behalf. The golem was magically imbued with life by placing a “Chem” or magical inscription inside it’s head, which programmed it with a set of instructions. One old tale told of a golem instructed to dig a hole – alas the man who was supposed to supervise the golem fell asleep and without further instruction to stop, the golem simply kept digging, deeper and deeper without pause until it collapsed the entire village into the hole, killing everyone.

    The same tale was beautifully portrayed in the animated Disney classic “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice”, where Mickey the young apprentice borrows his master’s magic to create a magical broom do his chores for him. We all recall how that tale went.

    In much the same way, we have our own modern-day golems – the Corporations. We created them to undertake difficult or complex work for us, we imbued them with life – hell, we even gave them the same rights as people. We made them stronger than us, virtually immortal, and we gave them a Chem that simply said; “Grow and Profit”.

    At first, they stated out fine, they did the work and allowed us to enjoy our spare time. They grew and made us profits and we revelled in our new-found wealth. But along the way, nobody ever thought to remove or refine the Chem, so they continue to do as we originally bid. They single-mindedly grow and grow and work toward their instruction to make profit, to the detriment of all else.

    Unfortunately in our neglect, they have grown so vast they now resemble the Titans of Greek mythology. They now tower over us all, striding like titanic figures across our landscape, able to go anywhere, untouchable as they grow ever larger, carelessly trampling people and consuming more and more of our environment as they amass even greater profits.

    Their purpose is now meaningless, the profits they make serve nobody bar a few people who have cleverly worked out a means to extract it. Their bulk now equals or exceeds the very nations and democracies they were designed to serve. In contrast, we humans are as mere ants in their shadow, insignificant, powerless, unable to reach high enough to remove the Chem that will stop them.

    We have lost control of our creations and if we don’t regain control or destroy them first, like the golems of old, they will deliver untold destruction, mayhem and death upon us.

  39. lawrencewinder

    Be afraid, very afraid. This lot don’t even have the morals of an alley cat.
    They do not love this country.

  40. Kaye Lee

    Professor Ross Garnaut argued that our political culture has changed since the reform era of 1983 to 2000, in ways that make it much more difficult to pursue policy reform in the broad public interest.

    ”If we are to succeed, the political culture has to change again,” he said. Policy change in the public interest seemed to have become more difficult over time as interest groups had become increasingly active and sophisticated in bringing financial weight to account in influencing policy decisions.

    ”Interest groups have come to feel less inhibition about investment in politics in pursuit of private interests.

    ”For a long time, these past dozen years, it has been rare for private interests of any kind to be asked to accept private losses in the interests of improved national economic performance.

    ”When asked, the response has been ferocious partisan reaction rather than contributions to reasoned discussion of the public interest in change and in the status quo,” Garnaut said.

    We can continue going down the road of ever-more blatantly self-interested behaviour by political parties on the one hand and industry lobby groups on the other, but while we do so it’s idle to dream of major reform.

    What we can do – as the miners have shown – is veto any reform we don’t fancy.

    Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/business/selfinterest-has-killed-off-any-hope-of-real-reform-20131108-2x73s.html#ixzz2kIjyAcsg

  41. Vic

    Somebody must create a mass petition asap! on change.org, there is a starting point

  42. Trevor Edmond

    This a as good as any conspiracy theory. But global control of trade by corporations is not pie in the sky. We are already seeing it in action.
    I wonder if an imbecile like George Bush Jr could get to be President of the most powerful nation on earth. I don’t think so. Likewise a ###***!!! like Tony Abbott cannot possibley get to be prime minister without the assistance of very powerful and moneyed support. We’ll be sold down the river before we realise how deep the water is.

  43. Stuart Dean

    A good, short analysis/correlation of current situation.
    I’m afraid that we wil be sold down the river before we realise how deep the water WAS.

  44. Helen

    Would this explain why the Govt would issue a permit to Lakes Oil for fracking on the Anglesea Great Ocean Road area even whilst a moratorium is in place?….

  45. Adam

    This Abbott government is bone chillingly scary.
    Sadly i don’t believe any petition or any public voice will make a difference at all to them. They will do what they wish and not care one whit about what the people want. For them they won the right by getting in to do what they wish.

    I don’t believe Abbott is completely stupid. I think he is a devious man with the will to wreak havoc. A very mentally unstable man. If you’ve seen him in interviews in the past when he had to respond to negative questions he would sometimes meltdown. He would not be able to talk. It was really sad to watch. This was before he became prime minister. I thought then that he was no way fit to lead this country and that it would be a joke for anyone to actually vote for him. Then on election day the horror began.

    Also,
    Don’t forget that New Zealand has recently been going through trying to change a law that would make growing your own food illegal. If the TPPA is signed then it’s just quick quick step before this law could also be passed here. Then say hello GMO and goodbye Organic produce.
    Here is an article about this from late September:
    http://investmentwatchblog.com/new-food-bill-in-new-zealand-takes-away-human-right-to-grow-food/

  46. Gen

    We need someone to make a catchy well-worded punchy petition, at the very least. It helps raise awareness, helps people to feel motivated and part of something bigger, and if enough sign it can send a strong message to politicians that may influence their actions.

  47. James hunt

    I hope this issue gains all the negative political traction it deserves in our community

  48. Michael

    The idea that being Prime Minister is just a staging post in Abbott’s longer term career aspirations for much greater financial reward within the wider church of corporate capitalism, is not far off the mark, in my view.

    Hanging Australia out to dry, via his support of dubious free trade agreements, complete with ISDRs, will help him achieve the personal glory he really craves, in the corporate world.

    Abbott’s political ethics are loathsome, his political vision as to what constitutes the good society is limited, his arrogance is breathtaking, and his determination to achieve his own version of personal success, is now well established.

    As leader of the country, he is indeed a scary prospect as his first real achievement has been to trash the relationship between Australia and Indonesia.

  49. Heather

    Adam, am appalled at what NZ is trying to do. Plainly the conservatives in power are lacking on the humanity and human side. The mad rush to make more money seems to be sheer lunacy. Is it the mad rush to make more before the world changes forever? I have struggled against all these heavy people all my life. My family first and then the continual search for good organic foods. Many of us walk in to the supermarket where there are oodles of foods, and not much we can buy…it’s like a desert area.

    Media Watch last night went on a huge rant about the Catalyst program running the “anti meds for High Blood Pressure” show. Lots of us use good wholesome foods to keep well and away from the clutches of Big Pharma. i am presently forming a list of good foods which help keep blood pressure down. Latest find was celery juice. I have observed many people who have this health problem and they were probably too hyper and stressed out as a life mode, and definitely quite bonkas on their meds…and they seem to have to keep on taking more and more as their body deteriorates. I thought the Catalyst program was the best they had on the ABC for a long time. Sure there are a lot of people on meds who are now very worried. But they should have known that. There are a lot of people out there who are opting for HBP meds, when they could be choosing to eat organic food and walking more. No they look at me as if I’m an alien.

    Makes you wonder what meds Abbott and his NZ wife are on, and the rest of the LNC, doesn’t it? Supporting what saves them huh!

  50. Kris

    i cant believe that tony would do this to our fine country

  51. Pingback: It’s been two months and still no word, you don’t deserve it | Everybody's Dracula

  52. thegreenfairies

    where are the protests and petitions. where is the people’s movement to demand ta to LISTEN TO THE WILL OF THE AUSTRALIAN PEOPLE. DO NOT SIGN.THE TPP.

  53. thegreenfairies

    IT IS THE WILL OF THE AUSTRALIAN PEOPLE TO DEMAND TONY ‘ABBORTT’ THE TPPT AND ISDR provisions.

  54. doctorrob54

    Done.If this agreement is passed in present form it is TREASON,no ifs or buts.

  55. eternalsource

    Thanks so much, greatly appreciated 🙂

  56. Mic

    Philip Morris has already sued us over plain packaging on cigarettes. Someone should bring it to TA’s attention that signing the TPP and associated clauses will also mean that companies like Smith & Wesson or Gloch will be able to sue for the right to sell firearms to individuals, most of which will the probably be aimed at him.

  57. Mic

    Doctorrob54: Note that Howard is also guilty of Treason and no proceedings have been commenced.

  58. doctorrob54

    Yes I know mate,makes me angry and quite often am embarrassed to be an Aussie.Now this filthy Gov.has said it’s OK for Israel to murder and further displace Palestinians.

  59. Kaye Lee

    If anyone needs another heads up about what is to come…….

    THE European Commission has fined pharmaceuticals giants Johnson & Johnson and Novartis a combined $US22 million ($A24.22 million) for colluding to delay the entrance of a cheap generic form of a pain killer to the Dutch market.

    In a statement, the Commission’s antitrust chief, Joaquin Almunia, said the two companies “shockingly deprived patients in the Netherlands, including people suffering from cancer, from access to a cheaper version of this medicine”.

    The Commission found that after Johnson & Johnson’s patent on a patch containing the drug Fentanyl expired in 2005, it paid Novartis to delay launching a generic version. The delay lasted 17 months, and was more profitable for both companies than competing honestly would have been.

    J&J’s fine was 10.7 million euros ($A16.27 million), and Novartis’ was 5.5 million euros ($A8.36 million).

  60. Kay Harris

    This is going to be a very bumpy ride – Daily I see lots of opposition on social media etc, to the coalitions ‘policies’ but fragmented opposition will not achieve much – only a united, organised force will have any effect – Not easy these days with people like Murdoch firmly behind Abbott- We have to get serious in our opposition, but how?? – Sadly Labor is a paper tiger…

  61. EyesWideOpen

    I see a lot of people blaming only the Liberals for this. Don’t think for one second that the masters table that your left wing and right wing political dogs eat the scraps from is not the same table. Both Shorten and Abbott would sell their grandmother for a nickel.
    Labor is the Nut, the
    Libs are the Bolt, and the
    Greens are the oil on the thread.
    FULL SPECTRUM DOMINANCE. This is how you capture a so called ‘democracy’, you control all the horses in the race, but you make them look like they are taring each others throats out in order to keep up the Left-Right paradigm. Labor and Libs all work for large multi-national corporations, the CO2 tax/trade is being pushed by large financial interests that hold massive stakes in Petroleum; why would they do this if it would hurt petroleum? They wouldn’t, because it’s not about losing themselves any profit, it’s about making much more profit overall, and charging everyone more for less … the profits just get bigger and bigger and they laugh all the way to the bank.
    Why also do the Greens stay silent on the TPP right up until the last hour before the deal is signed? Because they’re sold out too. The media hasn’t reported it up until now so as to not give any community groups time to rally a decent defense/protest.
    Wake up Australia, YOU ARE BEING RAPED BY ALL OF THEM, and the media is just there for a smokescreen.

  62. Stuart Dean

    If that were true, eyeswideopen, I certainly hope it is not, then all the climate scientists, political scientists and social scientists would be similarly duped and hoodwinked or being paid off. And if that were so, they may as well take over the world now, before it becomes inhabitable for even them.

  63. Vera

    But How?… is the lead question!
    Been following this for a while and signed other petitions.
    Another article to scope. Abbott: Open For Business — And Multinational Lawsuits
    Labor rejected it outright. Even the Howard government issued America with a rare “no” over the legislation, declaring it contrary to national interests. But now the Abbott Coalition is flirting with a trade agreement that would allow companies, acting increasingly in secret, to sue Australia if they don’t like its regulations.

    Kaye Lee: petition signed and shared. Thanks!

    I’m as mad as hell……..!!!! (loved the video) I’ll settle for
    The purpose of March in March Australia 2014 is to provide the people of Australia with the opportunity to come together to protest a unity vote of no confidence in the Abbott Government in Canberra, capital cities and regional centres throughout Australia on Monday 15-17th March 2014.
    Who can participate? Anyone.
    The protest is open to any individual, group or organisation who wishes to express their lack of confidence in the Abbott government in a peaceful and respectful way.

    Thanks folks.

  64. Daryl

    We must never forget Abbott and any other so called Australian that attacks the Australian taxpayer and our country so joyfully..

    Fight, fight and fight. Bring the tyrants down starting with the socio-path Abbott.

  65. Pingback: Travelling backwards… Abbott’s year of “achievement” 4102 | olddogthoughts

  66. PopsieJ

    This article should be reposted See the comments about TA made 15 months ago ! he is a dangerous cunning pyscopath !

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