TPP to pass without PC assessment

By Leith van Onselen

The Productivity Commission’s (PC) latest Trade & Assistance Review, released in April, was scathing of the processes surrounding ‘free trade agreement’ (FTA) negotiations and demanded thorough independent assessment both prior to negotiations commencing, as well as before an FTA is passed by parliament:

…the Commission concluded in 2010 that the economic benefits of bilateral trade agreements have generally been oversold and the risks have been understated. The Commission recommended that agreements should be reached only when they provide outcomes that are in Australia’s interest and they are the most cost-effective way of achieving those outcomes. The Commission further recommended that there should be more transparent and rigorous assessments of such agreements. This should encompass two elements. To ensure agreements are in the Australia’s interest, before negotiations commence, modelling should include realistic scenarios and be overseen by an independent body. After negotiations have concluded and prior to signing of the agreement, a full and public assessment should be undertaken covering all of the actual negotiated provisions. As with all areas of policy, trade agreements need to be considered on a case-by-case basis, and the balance of benefits and costs for future agreements may be different, for example because they cover a smaller share of Australian trade.

The PC has also explicitly warned about the risks inherent in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement:

…based on US media access to the current draft text, it appears likely that the TPP will include obligations on pharmaceutical price determination arrangements in Australia and other TPP members, of an uncertain character and intent. The history of IP arrangements being addressed in preferential trade deals is not good. Indeed, to the extent that the return to IP holders awarded by more stringent IP laws outweighed the benefits to the broader economy, the provision would also impose a net cost on both partners, lowering trading and growth potential across the bloc…

There is also a risk that specific provisions within these agreements including those relating to intellectual property, investor-state dispute settlement and product-specific rules of origin will impose net costs on trading partner economies.

With this background in mind, the TPP looks set to be passed by parliament without the PC’s expert assessment:

Labor will support a massive Pacific trade deal involving 11 countries after a long debate among MPs in the party room on Tuesday.

The Trans-Pacific Partnership now looks set to pass the Senate with bipartisan support, after the government could not secure crossbench votes.

Despite some opposition from Labor MPs in the party room on Tuesday, the party will support the deal.

So much for due process. Labor / Liberal: both unrepresentative swill.

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  1. ErmingtonPlumbingMEMBER

    Major decisions like these should be decided by the Rank and File,…Not “Party room” full of Ambitious Careerist .
    No hope for real Democracy within our country if it can’t be demanded within the Political Parties that Govern us.
    If we want to strike a blow against these sellouts, it would only require a few 10s of thousands of new members, within the Party, to Knock these traitors to the working and middle class out.

    But to knock them out (either party) on election day,… you’ll need to mobilize millions.
    Ever heard of the path of least resistance.

    • If the rank and file aren’t deciding now, what makes you think a bigger rank and file will decide? Doing the same thing and expecting a different outcome is the definition of insanity.

      • ErmingtonPlumbingMEMBER

        If its an increase in a rank and file of the same submissives then Yes, No difference.
        If you were to join and peopke like you bjw,…what would you “decide” to do and say?

      • I would think that people currently in a political party would be likely to be far more politically active on average than those who aren’t. A massive influx of members would probably lead to a more submissive rank and file than currently exists.
        But keep the dream alive.

    • Labor’s representing their big business donors here. This FTA will screw workers, as it allows foreign flagged companies to pay foreign wage rates in Australia.

      • Christo Redemptor

        I was a member of the Labor Party a long time ago. You’d go the branch meetings, listen to secretary read the minutes of the previous meeting and the correspondence and then you’d go home. It was most mind-numbingly boring experience ever invented by man. Occasionally there’d be a resolution about some policy issue. It was pointless. The Labor Party was structurally designed so that ordinary members had no influence on anything. I imagine the situation these days is worse. This is why people join Get Up, Greenpeace etc. They at least pretend that members can have some meaningful input.

    • What’s ALP had to say about the situation at the Royal Hobart Hospital redevelopment? Here you have 120 Chinese plasterers on dodgy visas, going without pay because they were hired by a Chinese gangster masquerading as a labor hire company, offering their services to the Chinese state owned contractor John Holland, who is being paid by the Tasmanian taxpayer, all under the auspices of ChAFTA?

      Silence as usual.

      • ErmingtonPlumbingMEMBER

        Ive seen these Chinese contractors completely take over the Construction Gyprocking trade in Sydney back in the late 90s.
        I have many first hand anecdotes of clear breaches of immigration and visa laws on some of Sydneys largest projects including several hospital builds,…it is rife and it is a disgrace.
        Our country is truly corrupted.

        We need large numbers of honest common people, to become politically active and enguaged to combat this rot in our community,…our Proffessional class leadership becomes to corrupted it self to be trusted.
        Only the people through real democracy can be trusted to root these pr!cks out.

  2. So a huge trade treaty of thousands of pages affecting every aspect of life in Australia is going to be passed by bunch of parliamentary ignoramuses and hacks without any examination by the experts? Parliamentary arrogance knows no bounds.

    • It was also negotiated in secret, only the negotiators and big business had access to the drafts. What we know about the text comes from WikiLeaks. Yay democracy!

      • with all due respect, Is the average Aussie any better off if they know the exact details of this complex agreement?
        All anyone really needs to know is that it doesn’t take 30000 pages to write a Free Trade Agreement, if the agreement is simply about removing Trade restricting barriers .
        This agreement is about a whole lot more than Free Trade, matter of fact there are precious few words in the document that are even devoted to Freeing up Trade, the rest of the document deals primarily with deliberately creating commercial advantage and extending the reach of this advantage globally, creating a sort of super sovereignty.
        My concern is not that the Productive Commission hasn’t seen the document but that even if they did see it they wouldn’t be in a position to fully understand the longer term consequences of said agreement. I say this because it is very difficult to read any terse legal document and think you understand it without first understanding the motivation of the companies/individuals that wanted this particular paragraph included.
        The last time I even tried to wade through TPP stuff I gave up in disgust.

  3. Disgusting. Trump has his faults but he speaks the truth that FTAs and open borders only benefit corporations and not the people. When will people of this country get their head out of their arse and start voting against the major political parties. This is not a democracy.

  4. As long as we have a policy of running an over-valued currency, financed by debt and sales of core assets to foreigners, it is impossible to evaluate the benefit or costs of a FTA. Further if we DO run an actual FTA, not some stupid document that gives a whole lot away immediately and promises benefits to our farmers in 15 years time, then if our currency is 75% over-valued(A$ = USD 0.70 rather than 0.40) , we are immediately imposing, all things else being equal, a 56% disadvantage on our own producers and manufacturers.
    This is stupidity on a grand scale – or is it just plain treachery by a bunch of treasonous pricks (being polite) with a globalist agenda?

    PS. This is in addition to all the other legitimate objections raised in the article.
    PPS Every time you hear the words ‘models’ or ‘modeling’ supposedly giving conclusive outcomes to problems and situations that involve major uncertainties your BS alarm should clamour loud and clear in your brain.

    • It’s not stupidity flawse, it’s actually the plan, the plan to sell us out of house and country for *their* benefit. Parliament is dominated and controlled by stooges of the financial elite or useful idiots that are bought off in one way or another.

      • Yup!
        PS But what about the universities? I guess they are more sensitive and caring than we mere deplorables and we need to be guided, ignorantly, into this globalisation with them at the privileged helm ?

    • As much as I share your distrust of this agreement , I do however see a pressing the need to clarify many aspects of global trade.
      Things like Transfer Pricing is simultaneously a rort and an essential part of modern commerce especially wrt high tech and phrma industries, yet we see it being used by big Aussie exporters to create intentional commercial advantage in low tax regimes like Singapore. The exact value of Iron Ore marketing in Singapore needs to be understood rules need to be created and appropriate taxes/ royalties paid. We have similar international finance agreements that guarantee our Australian based LNG producers will never make a dime of profit, the intentional onerous nature of these agreements needs to be acknowledged, limits need to be established. These limits need to make sense and they need to create clear guidelines about what conduct that is acceptable and what is conduct punishable, furthermore we need to establish a way to punish individuals because this concept of punishing a corporate entity is nothing short of bizarre.
      All this requires a rules based international framework which is coming like it or not.

    • ‘Like sands through the hour glass’ Nice one – constantly and steadily….But one day the hour glass is going to tumble over and the breakdown will be catastrophic.