One of the Tweed’s newest residents, Larni Gryphon, has decided to use her voice to oppose the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a massive free-trade deal encompassing a dozen countries around the Pacific rim.
The countries represent 40 per cent of global gross domestic product (GDP).
Larni, who moved to the area just two months ago, has created an online petition via SumOfUs.org, which targets the state member for Tweed, Geoff Provest.
She told Echonetdaily the TPP deal is flawed, negotiations are being carried out in secret and some of the signatory countries have poor human rights and labour records.
‘If we actively send a message to our local member it might add weight. The best approach normally is to approach your local member,’ she said.
Larni said she is aware that the negotiations are taking place at a federal level but added, ‘I thought [local members] were all meant to represent us at the end of the day, up the chain of hierarchy’.
She said she would also be creating a petition targeting the federal member for Richmond, Justine Elliot.
Larni said she was concerned so few people were aware of the current negotiations.
‘There’s not been much in the media about it – the negotiations are being conducted in secret – but they’re meeting at the moment in Hawaii.’
According to Larni’s SumOfUs page, the agreement would:
– Let fossil fuel companies sue governments who pass laws that infringe on their profits;
– Delay access to low-cost generic medicines by lengthening patent terms;
– Make it nearly impossible to ban risky financial schemes like those that crashed the global economy;
– Incentivize a race to the bottom for workers in every TPP country;
– Include countries like Malaysia and Brunei, which are notorious human rights abusers;
– Punish internet users who link to copyrighted content.
A spokesperson for Nationals MP Provest told Echonetdaily, ‘Geoff has suggested you speak to the federal member as this is not something where the NSW government has jurisdiction – it is being negotiated by the federal government. ‘
‘A petition on this issue would be more properly addressed to the federal parliament through the federal member, Justine Elliot.’
No ISDS: Elliot
Richmond Labor MP Justine Elliot told Echonetdaily she had received ‘many queries’ from local residents concerning the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
‘The potential benefits for Australia include market access for our goods and services in countries with which we do not have an existing bilateral trade agreement,’ Ms Elliot said.
‘The TPP could also be a stepping stone to closer economic engagement across the Asia-Pacific region – a goal Labor has pursued from establishing APEC to the Asia Century White Paper.’
But Ms Elliot said the TPP must not ‘affect our ability to deliver public services, undermine labour and environmental standards, reduce the capacity of Australians to access affordable medicine through the PBS, or radically alter the existing legal balance between creators and consumers of intellectual property.’
She added that Labor had ‘led the way’ in campaigning against Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) provisions in trade agreements.
‘In 2011 the former Labor government decided not to include ISDS provisions in future trade agreements.
‘The Abbott government scrapped Labor’s policy.
‘Tony Abbott has now included ISDS provisions in trade deals with Korea and China and is considering including them in the proposed Trans-Tasman Partnership.
‘Labor opposes this change of policy,’ she said.
Ms Elliot said that Labor was not convinced that the so-called ‘modern’ ISDS provisions agreed to by the Abbott government would prevent foreign corporations bringing claims against Australian health, environment and other public interest initiatives.
‘We do not accept that ISDS provisions are required at all in Free Trade Agreements. There is no evidence that these provisions are required to attract foreign direct investment, or that there is a gap in the market for political risk insurance,’ MP Elliot said.