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Byron Shire
October 4, 2023

TPP dystopia

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Sapoty’s convinced me: a campaign bred of Don Quixote and Monty Python cannot but prevail (Letters, December 16, 2013). Confronted with a phalanx of play-power Davids armed with half-MOs, the fossil fuel Goliath will crash like a stoner after one too many.

But seriously, our species is notoriously poor at taking precautions today against tomorrow’s consequences. Dangerously rising greenhouse gases are just one of the assaults on the life-support systems of our planet that some environmental scientists say amount to a war against nature; an immensely profitable war. Like booze-soaked adolescents, the greed-intoxicated corporate profiteers don’t give a stuff about the morning after. The awful truth is that this is happening when governments are explicitly ceding our sovereignty to corporations. Abbott’s ‘open for business’ mantra says it all.

We are entering a time when the narrow and nasty interests of corporations are being codified into enforceable, international agreements, which will explicitly privilege corporate profits above community welfare. The Trans-Pacific Partnership, driven by the US government on behalf of US multinationals, contains provisions, which will enable corporations to sue governments for losses of expected profits if those governments act to constrain corporations for our common good.

So forget carbon taxes, constraints on tobacco or alcohol advertising or packaging. The very existence of public health and education systems could be challenged. David Lovejoy’s article (Echo, December 31) is a cameo of life under the TPP. A fuller vision of such a dystopia is Terry Gilliam’s film masterpiece Brazil.

If the subordinate countries in the negotiations (Australia as usual the first to prostrate itself) agree to US demands and the TPP comes into force, then we will be subject to laws which will place corporations above individuals and the community not just in fact but in law. In exchange, corporations are being required to exercise the state’s illicit, coercive power against individuals who have annoyed or embarrassed it.

Guantanamo Bay victim Mamdouh Habib has just had his whole family’s Commonwealth Bank accounts, some of 30 years’ standing, cancelled for no reason. Well, for the reason that he is taking legal action against Australian government agencies that, he alleges, cooperated in his torture. Banks are not just corporations, they are necessary civil institutions that exist to serve the whole community. That the state can cut off a citizen, who has been convicted of no crime, from access to the institutions of civil society: this is to enter a dark age.

So, off to the front line armed with our half-MOs. We have few other defences left.

Adrian Gattenhof, Mullumbimby


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