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The New TPP: Responsible Globalization in Action?

By Denis Bright

In the absence of the US, China, and Russia, eleven countries are expected to sign the new Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement in Chile on 8 March 2018. This agreement must be ratified later by the Australian Senate after a likely review by the Joint Standing Committee on Treaties.

As reported in the Sydney Morning Herald, public discussion and rigorous political scrutiny are essential for inclusive treaty making and trading agreements which potentially affect the welfare of the Australian people:

Labor, the Greens and the key crossbench votes of the Nick Xenophon Team all called for independent modelling of the deal on Wednesday, stating the government should not assume it will pass Parliament.

“We have just found out today that it’s been finalised overnight in Japan and now it’s an opportunity for the Parliament and the Australian people to get the details of what’s in that agreement,” said Labor’s trade spokesman Jason Clare.

Expert discussions which were concluded in Tokyo on a new Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP). This is but one step in progressive inclusive trade negotiations.

The Prime Minister’s bubbly enthusiasm for the CPTPP is at odds with the cautions recommended by more moderate leaders like Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau and Chancellor Merkel. There can be new positive directions for global capitalism through social market processes.

In endorsing the CPTPP at the Economic Forum in Davos, Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau gave a timely warning of the excesses of the first thirty years of largely unchallenged market ideology since the fall of the Berlin Wall:

Fear of what a rapidly changing world means for workers and their families, and for those who are already struggling in the existing economy. And that fear – that anxiety – is valid.

People have been taken advantage of, losing their jobs and their livelihoods. Governments and corporations – we haven’t done enough to address this. Over the past decades, citizens and workers have been calling for change, but too often, their pleas have been ignored.

Too many politicians become disconnected – refusing to really listen, chasing short term wins over long term, meaningful solutions. And too many corporations have put the pursuit of profit before the wellbeing of their workers. The gap between the rich and the poor is staggering. All the while, companies avoid taxes and boast record profits with one hand, while slashing benefits with the other.

A Positives Only Assessment of the Benefits of the CPTT

These reservations have not been re-echoed by the federal LNP. This places Australia to the far-right of the countries involved in the negotiations for the new CPTPP.

Prime Minister Turnbull’s media release contains a long litany of nauseatingly positive hype which needs to be tested by critical public discussion:

  • Accelerated reductions in Japan’s import tariffs on beef, where Australian exports were worth $2 billion in 2015-16 – under TPP-11 even better access.
  • Elimination of a range of cheese tariffs into Japan covering more than $100 million of trade that was not covered by the Japan-Australia Economic Partnership Agreement.
  • New quotas for wheat and rice to Japan, and for sugar into Japan, Canada and Mexico.
  • Elimination of all tariffs on sheep meat, cotton, wool, seafood, horticulture, wine and industrial products (manufactured goods).
  • Eleven separate deals – legally enforceable market access to all these countries.

The positives soon end in negative swipes at Bill Shorten. The Opposition Leader is deemed to be an opponent of all endless horizons of the CPTPP:

“This is a multi-billion-dollar win for Australian jobs. Australian workers, businesses, farmers and consumers will benefit.

The Government took a leadership role and worked hard to deliver the TPP because it will generate more Australian exports and create new Australian jobs.

The TPP will eliminate more than 98 per cent of tariffs in a trade zone with a combined GDP of $13.7 trillion. The agreement will deliver 18 new free trade agreements between the TPP parties. For Australia that means new trade agreements with Canada and Mexico and greater market access to Japan, Chile, Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam and Brunei.”

By implication, these vast horizons justify our fullest support for the federal LNP. Our foreign policy agendas now seem to have an increasingly domestic political agenda as under the Trump Administration.

An Appeal for Blank Cheque Endorsement

The Prime Minister’s appeal for blank-cheque support for the TPP concludes with this frightening caveat. It is an attack on Australian sovereignty and an exercise in political elitism:

The text of the agreement is now undergoing a legal review and translation and will be made public on a date to be agreed by all parties.

No inclusive government should responsibly demand that the electorate supports a non-existent public text.

Events have moved so swiftly that even DFAT in Canberra has not had time to modify its descriptive economics graphic on the Latest News release on 24 January 2018. Data from the old TPP is still being communicated which includes trade with the US. In the Trump era, the US is outside the CPTPP.

Let’s hope DFAT will update the site immediately. Do look for the changes on this site.

Bill Shorten cannot logically support the CPTPP on behalf of the Australian people when its text is not available for critical analysis.

Still The Australian persisted with its usual attacks on Bill Shorten:

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said nobody had been more pessimistic about the TPP than Mr Shorten.

“Nobody was more pessimistic about it, more lacking in enthusiasm, more lacking in confidence for the enterprise of Australians than Bill Shorten,” Mr Turnbull said.

“Bill Shorten said the TPP was dead and we should down tools and stop working to keep it going.

“Well, we didn’t take his advice on this or any other matter. We’re not going to start doing that because he’s got no policy that support investment or employment.

As with the Australia-US Free Trade Agreement (USFTA) in 2014, it was Federal Labor which insisted on clauses to protect the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) before the Senate achieved bipartisan agreement on the new arrangements. Prime Minister Howard complied with the recommendations to negotiate a more bipartisan agreement that protected the PBS.

The CPTPP: Substantial Reservations Are Appropriate

Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz took issue with the empowerment of corporations in the old TPP agreement with its consequences for industrial awards and environmental protection protocols:

“Stiglitz takes issue with the TPP’s investment-protection provisions, which he says could interfere with the ability of governments to regulate business or to move toward a low-carbon economy.

It’s the “worst part of agreement,” he says, because it allows large multinationals to sue the Canadian government.

“It used to be the basic principle was polluter pay,” Stiglitz said. “If you damaged the environment, then you have to pay. Now if you pass a regulation that restricts ability to pollute or does something about climate change, you could be sued and could pay billions of dollars.”

There were similar provisions in North American Free Trade Agreement that led to the Canadian government being sued, but the TPP goes even further. He said the provision could be used to prevent raising of minimum wages or to overturn rules that prevent usury or predatory lending practices. Stiglitz argues the deal, which is a 6,000-page mammoth and extremely complex, should have been negotiated openly. “This deal was done in secret with corporate interests at the table,” he said.

It is appropriate for Australians to maintain a ‘wait and see’ attitude to the CPTPP. The evangelical hype from the federal LNP on the exclusive benefits of a new partnership arrangements is suspect. Even the DFAT website has not yet caught up with the changes. The federal LNP is probably anticipating that reporters will not have time to read the details and of course the real text of the CPTPP is with-held.

Empowering corporations with a commitment to the old market ideology defies the warnings at Davos from Prime Minister Trudeau and Chancellor Merkel. Both leaders endorse a new era of social market capitalism to extend the benefits of globalization to millions of real households and wage-earners in the Trans Pacific countries and beyond. Cheers to Bill Shorten for being cautious about the new CPTPP until the negotiating text is available for all.

Denis Bright (pictured) is a registered teacher and a member of the Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance (MEAA). Denis has recent postgraduate qualifications in journalism, public policy and international relations. He is interested in promoting pragmatic public policies that are compatible with contemporary globalization.



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  1. townsvilleblog

    For capitalism to work fairly it must be able to be regulated by governments. If corporations can legally sue governments for laws that our parliaments consider essential for our safety, including climatic safety then it’s not on. The parliaments of the people have to come first and capitalism a distant second. These corporations need to have placed before them a clear taxation policy, one that does not allow them to avoid paying taxes, enough is enough.

    If the Australian government could collect even 15% in income tax that these huge corporations make, like they do in Nordic countries, we too would have enough revenue to pay each of our citizens a live-able income, which has to come, with the loss of so many jobs in this country and around the world. The Nordic countries like Sweden make this payment to their people, also they work 6 hour days, which Australia could easily adopt.

  2. Kevin Moore

    TPP is not dead: It’s now called the Trade In Services Agreement
    Feb8by Systemic Disorder
    One can hear the cry ringing through the boardrooms of capital: “Free trade is dead! Long live free trade!”
    Think the ideas behind the Trans-Pacific Partnership or the so-called “free trade” regime are buried? Sadly, no. Definitely, no. Some of the countries involved in negotiating the TPP seeking to find ways to resurrect it in some new form — but that isn’t the most distressing news. What’s worse is the TPP remains alive in a new form with even worse rules. Meet the Trade In Services Agreement, even more secret than the Trans-Pacific Partnership. And more dangerous.
    The Trade In Services Agreement (TISA), currently being negotiated among 50 countries, if passed would prohibit regulations on the financial industry, eliminate laws to safeguard online or digital privacy, render illegal any “buy local” rules at any level of government, effectively dismantle any public advantages to be derived from state-owned enterprises and eliminate net neutrality.
    TISA negotiations began in April 2013 and have gone through 21 rounds. Silence has been the rule for these talks, and we only know what’s in it because of leaks, earlier ones published by WikiLeaks and now a new cache published January 29 by Bilaterals.org.
    Earlier draft versions of TISA’s language would prohibit any restrictions on the size, expansion or entry of financial companies and a ban on new regulations, including a specific ban on any law that separates commercial and investment banking, such as the equivalent of the U.S. Glass-Steagall Act. It would also ban any restrictions on the transfer of any data collected, including across borders; place social security systems at risk of privatization or elimination; and put an end to Internet privacy and net neutrality. It hasn’t gotten any more acceptable.
    TISA is the backup plan in case the TPP and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership don’t come to fruition. Perhaps fearful that the recent spotlight put on “free trade” deals might derail TISA as it derailed TPP, the governmental trade offices negotiating it have not announced the next negotiating date. The closest toward any meaningful information found was the Australian government’s bland statement that the “Parties agreed to reconvene in 2017.”
    The cover story for why TISA is being negotiated is that it would uphold the right to hire the accountant or engineer of your choice, but in reality is intended to enable the financial industry and Internet companies to run roughshod over countries around the world. And while “liberalization” of professional services is being promoted, the definition of “services” is being expanded in order to stretch the category to encompass manufacturing. Deborah James of the Center for Economy and Policy Research laid out the breathtaking scope of this proposal:
    “Corporations no longer consider setting up a plant and producing goods to be simply ‘manufacturing goods.’ This activity is now is broken down into research and development services, design services, legal services, real estate services, architecture services, engineering services, construction services, energy services, employment contracting services, consulting services, manufacturing services, adult education services, payroll services, maintenance services, refuse disposal services, warehousing services, data management services, telecommunications services, audiovisual services, banking services, accounting services, insurance services, transportation services, distribution services, marketing services, retail services, postal and expedited delivery services, and after-sales servicing, to name a few. Going further, a shoe or watch that measures steps or sleep could be a fitness monitoring service, not a good. A driverless car could be a transport service, not an automobile. Google and Facebook could be information services and communication services, respectively.”
    Why is it you are kept in the dark?
    Before we get to the details of the text itself, let’s take a quick look at how the world’s governments, on behalf of multi-national capital, are letting their citizens know what they are up to. Or, to be more accurate, what they are not telling you. Many governments have not bothered to update their official pages extolling TISA in months.
    The European Union is negotiating TISA on behalf of its 28 member countries, along with, among others, the United States, Canada, Mexico, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Chile, Colombia, Peru, Norway, Switzerland, Pakistan and Turkey.
    In the United States, the new Trump administration has yet to say a word about it. The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative web site’s page on TISA still says “TiSA is part of the Obama Administration’s ongoing effort to create economic opportunity for U.S. workers and businesses by expanding trade opportunities.” Uh-huh. President Donald Trump is not against “free trade” deals; he simply claims he can do it better. The Trump administration has issued blustery calls for “fair deals” and braggadocio puffing up Donald Trump’s supposed negotiating prowess. A typical White House passage reads, “To carry out his strategy, the President is appointing the toughest and smartest to his trade team, ensuring that Americans have the best negotiators possible. For too long, trade deals have been negotiated by, and for, members of the Washington establishment.”
    https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Three_t's.pngMore typical of the TISA negotiators is the latest report from the European Commission, which summarized the latest round, held last November, this way: “Parties made good progress in working towards an agreed text and finding pathways towards solving the most controversial outstanding issues at both Chief Negotiators and Heads of Delegation levels.” The Canadian government’s last update is from last June and declares “Parties conducted a stocktaking session to assess the level of progress on all issues.”
    Traveling across the Pacific brings no more useful information. Australia’s government offers this information-free update: “Parties agreed to a comprehensive stocktake of the negotiations, identifying progress made and areas which require ongoing technical work.” New Zealand’s government can’t even be bothered to provide updates, instead offering only discredited, boilerplate public-relations puffery similar to other trade offices.
    The one hint that TISA negotiations are experiencing difficulty that could be found through an extensive online search is this passage in a U.S. Congressional Research Service report dated January 3, 2017: “Recognizing that outstanding issues remain and the U.S. position under a new administration is unclear, the parties canceled the planned December 2016 meeting but are meeting to determine how best to move forward in 2017.” Given that the new administration is moving as fast as possible to eliminate the tepid Dodd-Frank Act financial-industry reforms, it would seem TISA’s provisions to dismantle financial regulation globally would not be a problem at all.
    But that these talks are not progressing at the present time does not mean the world can relax. It took years of cross-border organizing and popular education to stop the TPP, and this effort will have to replicated if TISA is to be halted.
    The details are the devils already known
    Commentary accompanying Bilaterals.org’s publication of several TISA chapters stresses that the Trans-Pacific Partnership, despite its apparent defeat, is nonetheless being used as the model for the Trade In Services Agreement. Thus we are at risk of the TPP becoming the “new norm”:
    “Several proposed texts from the failed Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement have been transferred to TiSA — including state-owned enterprises; rights to hold data offshore (including financial data); e-commerce; and prohibitions on performance requirements for foreign investors. While these texts originated with the United States, they appear to be supported by other parties to the TPP, even though those governments were reluctant to agree to them in the TPP and will no longer be bound by that agreement. That suggests the TPP may become the new norm even though it has only been ratified in two of the 12 countries, and that was done on the basis of U.S. participation that no longer applies. TPP cannot be allowed to become the new ‘default’ position for these flawed agreements.”
    Some of the most extreme measures have been dropped (at least for now) and much of the text is not agreed. Nonetheless, there is nothing to cheer about, Bilaterals.org reports.
    “The effectiveness of opposition to TiSA has led governments to conclude that they cannot sell some of the more extreme proposals, which have thus been dropped from previous leaked texts. But the fetters on the rights and responsibilities of governments to regulate in the interests of their citizens from what remains would still go further than any single other agreement. There are no improvements on the inadequate protections for health, environment, privacy, workers, human rights, or economic development. And there is nothing to prevent developing countries becoming even more vulnerable and dependent in an already unequal and unfair global economy.”
    Hypocritically, TISA would prohibit developing countries from adopting measures that countries like the United States used to facilitate its industrial development when it was an emerging country in the 19th century. In an analysis for WikiLeaks, Sanya Reid Smith of the Third World Network, an international coalition specializing in development issues, wrote:
    “[T]he proposals in this text restrict the ability of developing countries to use the development paths taken by many of the developed TISA countries. Some experts call this developed countries ‘kicking away the ladder’ after they have climbed up, to prevent developing countries from developing the same way. … In TISA, the USA is proposing restrictions on host countries being able to require senior managers be citizens of the host country. Yet when it was a capital importer, the USA had the opposite law: its 1885 contract labour law prohibited the import of foreign workers, i.e. the USA required senior managers (and all other staff) be Americans, which increased the chances of skills being passed to locals.”
    Letting banks decide what’s good for you
    These proposals are more extreme than language in existing bilateral trade agreements. Many of TISA’s provisions are lifted from TPP, but some go beyond the latter’s already extreme proposals For example, not even the TPP contemplated the entire elimination of regulations of any kind against the financial industry. Article 14 of TISA’s annex on financial services, which had contained the most explicit language prohibiting regulation, has been removed, but Article 9 still contains language requiring no limitations beyond those applying to domestic financial firms. In other words, a smaller country would be required to allow a giant bank from a bigger country to take over its entire banking system.
    Incredibly, regulations against financial derivatives yet to be invented would be illegal. A Public Citizen analysis states:
    “TISA would require governments to allow any new financial products and services — including ones not yet invented — to be sold within their territories. The TISA Annex on Financial Services clearly states that TISA governments ‘shall permit’ foreign-owned firms to introduce any new financial product or service, so long as it does not require a new law or a change to an existing law.”
    As another example, the financial-services annex (in article 21) would require that any government that offers financial products through its postal service lessen the quality of its products so that those are no better than what private corporations offer. Article 1 of the financial-services annex states that “activities forming part of a statutory system of social security or public retirement plans” are specifically covered by TISA, as are “activities conducted by a central bank or monetary authority or by any other public entity in pursuit of monetary or exchange-rate policies.”
    That social security or other public retirement systems are covered is cause for much alarm because they could be judged to be “illegally competing” with private financial enterprises. It is conceivable that central banks could be constrained from actions intended to shore up economies during a future financial crisis if banks decide such measures “constrain” their massive profiteering off the crisis.
    Article 10 of the annex continues to explicitly ban restrictions on the transfer of information in “electronic or other form” of any “financial service supplier.” In other words, EU laws guarding privacy that stop U.S.-based Internet companies from taking data outside the EU to circumvent those privacy laws would be null and void. Laws instituting privacy protections would be verboten before they could be enacted. These rules, if enacted, could also provide a boon to companies like Uber whose modus operandi is to circumvent local laws. The Bilaterals.org analysis accompanying the leaks notes:
    “The main thrust of TiSA comes through the e-commerce, telecommunications, financial services and localisation rules and countries’ commitments to allow unfettered cross-border supply of services. Together they would empower the global platforms who hold big data, like Google, without effective privacy protections, and tech companies like Uber, who have become notorious for evading national regulation, paying minimal tax and exploiting so-called self-employed workers. Given the backlash against global deals for global corporations TiSA will simply add fuel to the bonfire.”
    Who interprets the rule is crucial
    The language of TISA, like all “free trade” agreements, is dry and legalistic. How these rules are interpreted is what ultimately matters. TISA contains standard language requiring arbitration by judges possessing “requisite knowledge”; that language means that the usual lineup of corporate lawyers who represent corporations in these tribunals will switch hats to sit in judgment. The tribunals used to settle these “investor-state disputes” are held in secret with no accountability and no appeal.
    The intention of “free trade” agreements is to elevate corporations to the level of governments. In reality, they raise corporations above the level of governments because only “investors” can sue; governments and people can’t. “Investors” can sue governments to overturn any law or regulation that they claim will hurt profits or even potential future profits. On top of this, a government ordinarily has to pay millions of dollars in costs even in the rare instances when they win one of these cases.
    Each “free trade” agreement has a key provision elevating corporations above governments that codifies the “equal treatment” of business interests in accordance with international law and enables corporations to sue over any regulation or other government act that violates “investor rights,” which means any regulation or law that might prevent the corporation from extracting the maximum possible profit. Under these provisions, taxation and regulation constitute “indirect expropriation” mandating compensation — a reduction in the value of an asset is sufficient to establish expropriation rather than a physical taking of property as required under customary law. Tribunal decisions become precedents for further expansions of investor “rights” and thus constitute the “evolving standard of investor rights” required under “free trade” agreements. TISA contains the usual passages requiring “equal treatment.”
    At bottom, “free trade” deals have little to do with trade and much to do with imposing corporate wish lists through undemocratic means, including the elimination of any meaningful regulations for labor, safety, health or the environment. TISA is another route to imposing more of this agenda. And the TPP itself isn’t necessarily dead — both Chile and New Zealand are holding discussions with other TPP countries to salvage some of the deal. Chile has invited TPP countries, plus China, to a March summit and the New Zealand trade minister is visiting Australia, Japan, Mexico and Singapore.
    Working people around the world scored a major victory in stopping the TPP, at least in its current form. The activists who achieved this deserve much credit. But there is far more to do. Capital never rests; nor can we. Here we have class warfare in naked fashion, and there is no doubt on which side the capitalist world’s governments lie.

    TPP is not dead: It’s now called the Trade In Services Agreement


  3. guest

    When I see people such as Turnbull and Ciobo and others extolling the benefits of multi-national trade agreements, I do not have to be an expert in economics to think that all this jolliness and hoo-ha is just a cover-up for the failures of this government when it seems campaigning is hotting up and the polls for the Coalition are down.

    We do not have to look very far to see what a cock-up the Coalition has been in the past two periods in power. No need to list them. And how so many agreements were signed by a politician in the past who in no time at all found himself in the pay of one of the big players – with nothing required to earn the money.

    As well, I am very suspicious when the Coalition tries to badmouth Shorten because he refuses to be bipartisan in deals which have not been revealed in any great detail. There are reasons for suspecting any great benefits for Oz workers when it is likely that some foreign signatories might supply their own cheap labor instead of using Oz labor. Or how much the environment involved in any of these signatory countries, including Oz, will be protected by necessary safeguards – and whether there could be litigation brought to bear to protect or resist individual sovereign actions.

    There is no reason yet to believe too much in the Murdoch claim that this new TPP will boost GDP. The fact that investment in Oz is down and hard to obtain is not a strong endorsement of Murdoch/Coalition/IPA claims. Especially when so much is done in secrecy.

  4. Kelly

    A PC report (2010) into the AUSFTA estimated a $53B reduction in trade with the rest of the world. The TPP – will the Senate be railroaded by a manipulative MSM or will they stand their ground?

  5. guest

    As a further related matter to this puff-piece, The Australian has published a piece by Greg Evans of the Minerals Council of Australia entitled “We’ve coal to burn, and a way to make it cleaner”.

    Greenhouse International, as far back as 2008, said this about Carbon Capture and Sequestration:
    “Capturing and storing carbon uses lots of energy, anywhere from 10 – 40% of a power station’s capacity. An energy penalty of just 20% would require the construction of an extra power station for every 4 built…Power stations with capture technology will need 90% more fresh water than those without…
    diversion of funds away from renewable energy solutions [is not desirable]…investing in a renewable future would save US$180bn annually and cut CO2 emissions in half by 2050”.

    Renewable energy is even cheaper now. Perhaps Mr Evans would say CCS has improved ,too, but I think for him the horse has already bolted. And the COALtion, with its similar addiction to coal, is punting on the wrong horse and makes a mockery of its energy program.

  6. Jack Russell

    TISA/TTP … OMFG! First time I’ve seen it lumped together like this. No wonder it’s under wraps. Thanks for that Kevin Moore. I read sci-fi novels about this kind of shit decades ago … they seemed over-the-top fanciful at the time.

  7. Kronomex

    If the new deal is so great for Ostraya then why is the LNP so frightened about releasing the documentation to back up their assertions that we’ll all benefit (supposedly) from this wondrous package? I’m also guessing that the corporate lobbyists provided most of the paperwork for the “expert discussions.”

    It’s all about keeping their corporate paymasters happy. Corruption, thy name is LNP.

  8. Andrew Smith

    Generally one could look at it another way, if such trade agreements are so negative, why do Brexiter Tories and Trump oppose the same? As opposed to small or medium nations like Oz negotiating with the US directly where oligarchs’ controlled global corporates try avoid regulation, eg. tax, labour, environmental etc. like EU enforces? Think there has been much muddying of the waters to garner support of old left etc., while ignoring services and advantages for SMEs and even sole operators availing themselves of regional trade standards?

  9. Matters Not

    Andrew Smith re:

    , if such trade agreements are so negative, why do Brexiter Tories and Trump oppose the same?

    Perhaps because they are responding to different contexts. You know – while that may have the same motivation (politically they want to win) they know what buttons to push at particular moments in time and in particular and peculiar socio-political realities.

    The Art of Politics is just that.

    As for how one could look at situations – do you want a very long essay or an extensive list?

  10. Pete Petrass

    Reminds me of the deal Fizza and NBN Co signed to buy HFC networks from Optus and Telstra, details of which were not revealed until after the ink was dry. Fizza’s little deal proceeded with zero information on the physical status of the networks, ie. how bad is it and how much will require replacement? Fizza’s little deal also agreed to keep these HFC networks running at taxpayer expense for as long as Murdoch and Foxtel wanted top use them. This is now despite the fact that all work on HFC networks for NBN use because it is not suitable. So in the washup the taxpayer bought HFC networks for hundreds of millions that now cannot be used for the NBN and which must be kept running and maintained (at great expense to the taxpayer) for as long as Murdoch wants to use them.
    It was the same with Fizza’s deal to buy Telstra’s copper network. Telstra had stopped keeping maintenance records years earlier. NBNs Ziggy Switkowski when working for Telstra in the 90s declared the copper networks at 10 minutes to midnight. Fizza paid an enormous sum to buy the copper networks (with the intention of using a lot of it for FTTN) without any past maintenance information, without any current inspection and 100% sight unseen. At the same time witnesses at NBN Committees were showing evidence of a network held together by plastic bags and gaffer tape.
    Now he wants everyone to sign his new TPP 100% sight unseen??? Had he nothing to hide he should be enormously proud to display to the country his outstanding negotiation skills and a full disclosure to all and sundry. But no, it is so good nobody can see it and we must sign it ASAP.

  11. Sur

    There were many reasons that the previous TPP was found to not be completely positive for all Australians. This present agreement needs to be well scrutinized before acceptance or rejection. As usual it is being used by one side of politics to knock the other .

  12. Andrew Smith

    Repackaging, rebranding and PR of old fascism, by the usual oligarchs including fossil fuels (Standard Oil/Exxon Mobil Rockefeller’s), auto (Ford), at al and more recently Koch’s.

    Nowadays by commissioning ‘academic research’ via universities, think tanks etc. supporting astro turfing of the ‘anti-globalisation’ and nativist message, since ZPG Zero Population Growth, ZEG Zero Economic Growth and Club of Rome, changing tactics post WWII.

    Hence, population control (eugenics) and steady state or balanced nation state economy with clear borders aka Malthus, Ricardo etc..

    Meanwhile they maintain their own global position of privilege and power, playing off workers vs. immigrants or automation or ‘globalisation’, influencing policy to avoid regulation under multilateral trade agreements etc., it’s just the old class system under a guise of being ‘liberal and environmental’.

  13. paul walter

    Thank you Dennis Bright. it lookslikemore wool pulled over our lives with unpleasant surprise outcomes to be faced in the future when we try to defend out living standards including environment or workplace conditions.

  14. James Robo

    Is Australia under the Liberals, the New Israel of the Pacific? Are we all relaxed and comfortable these days with our new conservative role in the big bad world?

  15. Paul

    Thanks Denis for the article.

    Transparency is key for Governments in this era. The community expects it.

    More education of the electorate is needed about the agreement so it can be critiqued as you have suggested.

    Have a great weekend!


    tpp was predicted to produce less than 0.07% growth over nearly 20 years and less than 5 jobs per week over the same period. That was when the US was involved so it will be even less now they are out. It will have nowhere near the effects Turdboy is spruiking. Knowing the way these bias modellers manipulate processes and stats, it is not clear if losses in industries not favoured by the agreement are considered when the final figures are calculated. tpp bargains off urban based australian manufacturing and IP jobs in the creative industries usually protected by copyright and patents laws to get benefits for the traditional LNP supporter base – farmers and the financial sector. Its straight out of Rockafellows Cub of Rome proposals where australia is merely considered a raw materials and food supplier to other countries and regions.

  17. Lalnama

    Inyrresting , timely article , I agree with some other responses “why are we kept in the dark”, what is the government trying to hide from us especially about workers rights

  18. Patrick@Non-Alignment

    What a geopolitical game for Australia Day: Malcolm and Shinzo coming to the rescue of TPP 11 and inviting the USA back into the deal as TPP 12 in the future. This is a new dimension to Invasion Day: Australia, Britain and the USA stoking up the Empire again. Future Murdoch Headlines: LNP Saves the Global Corporate Empire: Military Industrial Complexes Offer Support

  19. Mike

    @ Kevin Moore, thanks for the links and your thoughts. TISA, sounds more like Trade in Slavery Agreement. The corporations want to take it all – goodbye privacy, pensions, environment, representative government.

    Excluding the one percenters, how many people know this is what is being prepared for us and more importantly, what can an individual do to throw a big spanner in the works?

  20. Dr Tristan Ewins

    Any ‘free trade agreement’ which empowers corporations to sue governments for regulating markets ; establishing natural public monopolies and so on – is not worth the paper its written on. I agree with Denis, Shorten is right to be cautious. How can we possibly support unreservedly a document we don’t even know the contents of? (and hence have not properly debated) I expected better from Trudeau, though, than to support TPP.

  21. Rob

    Let’s see the fine print malcolm, let’s put this wonderful deal, under the microscope and then see if the results are the same. malcolm, busy waving his hands around again, leaning forward eagerly to engage and looking all bright n shiny, for now. th failure is the electorates for not asking the media, NO, demanding the media put these extreme right wing types under direct scrutiny. All the media do is fawn and ask nice questions.

    Nice questions are like the LNP, shallow. The media has to step up and shoulder a lot of blame for the last 5 yrs. Will they, thats a hard question !

  22. Andreas Bimba

    Some really good comments especially from Kevin Moore which should really be a seperate article.

    This is going beyond just narrow sectional interest and greed and really is treasonous subversion of democracy, parliament and government by the corporate oligarchy and plutocracy.

    No longer are most politicians just figure heads for unseen powerful forces but some like Turnbull, Ciobo and Robb previously, are criminals and traitors. I have had enough and can’t believe the incredible stupidity of people who vote for the Coalition.

    The free trade ideology unfortunately still rules in the ALP as well and I fear Shorten will also in the end yield to pressure from the corporate oligarchy, plutocracy and the mining unions.

    Globalisation and totally free trade is a major plank of neoliberalism and is applied to the class enemies of the oligarchy but not to the oligarchy itself that uses government for its purposes. For example the superannuation industry is a government legislated example of crony capitalism that extracts fees of over $25 billion p.a. and delivers rates of return that are less than the average appreciation of the share indices. Another example is the property bubble that uses subsidies like negative gearing and the 50% CGT concession along with largely unregulated foreign capital inflows to turn most of the Australian population into an exploited renting class whilst providing easy wealth predominantly for a rich few and a segment of the middle class. The big 4 banks were major drivers of the legislative policy changes needed and currently receive a mortgage payment windfall of at least an additional $40 billion p.a. (based on half the total value of all mortgages) because of the inflated price of real estate. The privatisations of public utility and public transport monopolies that have increased costs to consumers whilst reducing employment levels and seriously degrading working conditions, is yet another example.

    Australia’s once quite substantial manufacturing industry has been sacrificed because it suited Australia’s real rulers in the mining and finance sectors as it meant we import more and this prevented the Australian dollar from rising too high from all the expected mineral and energy resources exports. Millions have lost jobs over the last few decades and large sections of the working class have been very adversely affected. Australia has also been put in a very precarious geopolitical situation as a result.

    Free trade can be beneficial in those areas where we have a special advantage but some trade protection for highly automated, capital intensive or knowledge intensive sectors such as processed food/fibre, steel manufacturing, cement, oil refining, chemical manufacturing, automotive, white goods, trains, specialist shipbuilding, defence production, some aircraft manufacturing and building materials for example would also provide a net overall benefit in Australia’s situation.

    This strategy is called playing to win and this is the way the major East Asian nations as well as Europe and the US play the game. We can increase our exports and locally provide more of our imports by making these products and services more desirable to consumers and price is just one lever. Higher education, R&D, industry clustering, excellent infrastructure, low interest finance, marketing assistance and even restricted access to local markets for startup industries are important levers that are underutilised by hard right ultra free market proponents. Japan’s use of the Ministry of Economy and Trade since WW2 is a good example for Australia to follow. We can still negotiate for better trade access but should never negotiate away other vital industries in exchange for better access.


    The TTP is treasonous. it seeks to undermine the judicial arrangements set up in the Constitution which makes the High Court the sole and ultimate arbiter in legal matters involving the Cth gov. The TPP does this by setting up a foreign tribinal and excluding the High Court. It makes the decisions of the foreign tribunal binding and undermines the authority of the High Court in the Constitution. The definition of treason in the Crimes Act includes seeking to overthrow the Constitution. That”s exactly what the TPP is attempting to do and hence why it is legally treasonous besides also being treasonous in accordance with tbe non legal common useage meaning of that word.


    elaborating upon some of what kevin points out.

    first on the ability of corporate investors to sue a national gov. this only applies to foreign corporations not local ones who cannot sue their own gov on the same grounds as foreign ones. this effecively means local businesses (and workers) will be paying any compensation amounts the gov is ordered to pay. in effect local businesss will be paying for and subsidising the lost profits of their foriegn competitors. an ethical absurdity and contrary to the liberal philosophy of even freidmann who did not think one buisiness should subsidize another.

    second gov cannot prevent foreign investors and financial organisations from maximising their profits or gov cannot regulate them in times of crisis. hence in the GFC of 2008 banks obtained the gov guarantee ($18 trillion from the US fed gov) leaving them with no losses but still tried to take possession of the properties of mortgagees who had defaulted on their repayments. what that meant was that even though the financial organisation had sustained no losses due to the gov guarantee they still wanted to get more by taking the properties of defaulters and selling them for more money. under contract law or any civil law for that matter you cannot sue if u have no losses or damages. hence the financial shonks sought to profit further from foreclosures in obtaining compensation from the gov as well as from the sale of properties they seized on foreclosure thereby effectively doubling their profits from the crisis. TISA seeks to implement and enshrine this strategy in its arrangements. it would allow financial organisations to do what they attempted to do with limited success in the GFC.

    allowing this would be a gross abnegation of the responsibilities and duties of gov to protect its constituents.

  25. Glen

    OTMP, good point on treason. Today, human rights lawyer Geoffrey Robertson became an Officer of Order of Australia. What are the chances he’d be interested in checking the TISA to see if it will have the consequence of over-riding the powers of the High Court? We could cover his costs with crowdfunding.

  26. Patricia

    Denis, thanks for an interesting and well researched article. Prime Minister Trudeau’s comments were spot on.

  27. Matters Not


    expected better from Trudeau, though, than to support TPP

    Why? Perhaps we don’t know what Trudeau negotiated. Given your earlier insight so should you??

    How can we possibly support unreservedly a document we don’t even know the contents of

    Supporting something we know nothing about? A great example of faith?

    Perhaps ideology transcends rational explanation? And shouldn’t be scrutinised? You know – as long as we dress it up as being free then that’s where the discussion ends?

  28. Glenn Barry

    Well given the track record of Malleable Turnbull on the NBN I would regard it as mandatory to reject this deal out of hand – put simply Turnbull cannot be trusted and his only regard for the national interest is to denigrate it at every opportunity


    None of this will result in very much at all…a few extra tons of beef and cheese into Japan. Virtually nothing at all really.

    “Accelerated reductions in Japan’s import tariffs on beef, where Australian exports were worth $2 billion in 2015-16 – under TPP-11 even better access.
    Elimination of a range of cheese tariffs into Japan covering more than $100 million of trade that was not covered by the Japan-Australia Economic Partnership Agreement.
    New quotas for wheat and rice to Japan, and for sugar into Japan, Canada and Mexico.
    Elimination of all tariffs on sheep meat, cotton, wool, seafood, horticulture, wine and industrial products (manufactured goods).
    Eleven separate deals – legally enforceable market access to all these countries.”

  30. Tessa

    Becoming a great and influential Australia with Malcolm and Abe in the Executive Jet?

  31. stephengb2014

    After reading all that, my brain hurts.

    How do we (the people) stop this crazy march to self destruction?

  32. Andrew Smith

    While everyone is focus upon the binary of nation versus globalisation, too many elements fly under the radar and are missed, including need for higher technology in work . Again, the antipathy towards trade agreements supposedly in favour of workers and the nation state ignores the change in work and maintaining relations with regional trading partners e.g. success of Cochlear globally etc.

    This confected antipathy via media (e.g. workers vs immigrants) is old theory or construct cooked up via the Club of Rome hosted by Rockies/Exxon Mobil, by Herman Daly ‘Steady State Economy’. This owes more to the old classical economic preachers for the top industrialists i.e. Malthus (population and natural balance obsessions), Ricardo (physical resource constraints) and Smith (old power structures aka division of labour, productivity, and free markets for bosses e.g. avoid trade agreements.).

    Hence, Daly promotes zero economic growth (joined at the hip with Ehrlich’s Zero Population Growth and Club of Rome’s ‘sustainabilty’ for fossils), withdrawal from regional or global trade agreements/rules, primacy of the nation state, borders and potential brown immigrants are to stay where they are; smells like eugenics to me.

    Where does Exxon Mobil fit in (remember they are also a backer of the IPA), who knows as they manage to fly under the radar while everyone bickers or is encouraged to ‘look over there’. However, according to Micheal West:

    ‘Australia’s political leaders ought to charge US oil giant ExxonMobil and its directors with contempt of parliament. Exxon has deceived the Senate.

    In 2015, its bosses were asked to disclose their relationships between ExxonMobil Australia and other Exxon companies overseas, tax haven connections in other words. Chevron and Shell respected the will of parliament. Exxon has failed.’

    Example of why the global corporates do not like trade agreements, related laws, regulation and taxes.

    Charge tax shark Exxon with contempt of Parliament

  33. Matters Not

    Concepts – the intellectual tools we employ to construct reality – come and go depending on whether they are useful or not. In times gone by, some thought that the concept of miasma was useful so they used that to explain how and why a whole range of diseases arose and why. Further, there was the concept of phrenologly which was considered useful because it purported to explain criminal tendencies among other behaviours

    Today they are but an interesting historical footnote re our way we used to think.

    Perhaps, that recognition ought to be usefully employed when we speak of Australia’s free trade agreements because I see no evidence that that Australian, as a whole, benefit from free trade agreements. Sure certain groups, industries or individuals may benefit, but Australians as whole? Perhaps not.

  34. Ali K

    Another very insightful article – thank you

  35. Kevin Moore

    Demand a Senate Inquiry on the real costs of the zombie TPP
    The 11 remaining countries involved in the Trans-Pacific Partnership have agreed on a new text and new name to revive this failed agreement, but it is still a bad deal. They agreed in Tokyo on January 23, 2018, to rename the deal and to suspend some of its most controversial clauses. The aim is to sign it on March 8, in Chile. Only then will the text be made public and reviewed by a parliamentary committee on which the government has a majority. Send a message to the opposition parties and independents to demand a Senate Inquiry and independent assessment of the real costs of the deal.
    Send a message to demand a Senate Inquiry that can assess the real costs of the zombie TPP!

  36. Andrew Smith

    British workers are going to learn the hard way by voting Brexit for their sovereignty against the EU trade blocks and supranational body to then negotiate directly with larger nations; ditto Trump’s white workers in rust belts.

    Of course conservative and aggressive neo liberal domestic governments will look after their rights, ensure employment and pay rises while missing streamlined trade on their door steps or in their respective regions.

    It’s been described as manipulating citizens into voting or opposing their own interests.

  37. Rubio@Coast

    Australians should be greatly concerned at the manner in which the Turnbull Government is taking sides with our Asian neighbours.

    US is obviously steering our national government through fear strategies to link up with dodgy far-right governments in Japan, India, Saudi Arabia and of course Taiwan Province (not officially a country at the UN).

    Talk of wanting Australia to hire US nuclear weapons by right-wing security think tanks in Australia to revolve the tensions created by this picking and choosing is appalling. I am sure all US equipment purchases are set-up to carry the new range of nuclear weapons and Australia is buying this equipment at a rate of $2-3 billion a year.

    Khaki politics should have been dead, buried and cremated with the Cold War but Malcolm Turnbull knows it can work wonders for his re-election in disadvantaged urban and regional electorates.

    Watch out for this Liberal Propaganda. Now it is done more effectively on Eyewitness News Bulletins. However, it comes from the same stable as those propaganda booklets which were issued to high school students to talk-up support for the Vietnam war under the late Harold Holt.

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