Australian opposition calls for TPP text to be made public

Australian opposition calls for TPP text to be made public

Summary: Shadow Trade Minister Penny Wong has called for the full text of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement to be made public before Australia signs onto the agreement.

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Labor spokesperson for Trade, Senator Penny Wong, has called on the Coalition government to release the full text of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement before it is signed by Australia, in order to assure that the government isn't signing away the country's rights in areas including copyright.

The TPP agreement is a currently being negotiated between Australia, the US, Canada, Japan, Mexico, Peru, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei, Chile, New Zealand, and Singapore, aimed at simplifying trade between the 12 nations.

The negotiations have been held confidential, and text of the agreement has not been made public. DFAT trade negotiation officials said in Senate Estimates last week that it is standard practice for international agreements to be negotiated in private with the text not made public until the agreement has been finalised.

However, last month, an August draft of the text of one of the most controversial and still-outstanding chapters of the agreement, the intellectual property chapter, was leaked by whistleblowing website Wikileaks.

Critics of the TPP agreement have warned that the draft text indicates Australia could be signing up for significant new penalties for users caught sharing copyright-infringing material online, and potentially new obligations for ISPs to enforce copyright for the rights holders.

The draft text that was leaked was said to be from August, back when Labor was still in government in Australia, under the oversight of Richard Marles. ZDNet understands that negotiators haven't been told to change their position on any copyright-related parts of the TPP agreement under the new Coalition Government. However, in an opinion piece published today, Wong has now indicated that Labor has its reservations about the TPP agreement.

"The test for the government in TPP — and all other trade — negotiations is ensuring Australia's national interest is never traded away," she said.

"[It would not] be in the national interest for the government to sign up to the TPP if it mandated a radical shift in the legal balance between creators and users of protected works."

Trade Minister Andrew Robb is currently in Singapore with the trade ministers from other nations currenly part of the negotiations seeking to get the agreement finalised and signed before the end of 2013. Wong called on the full text of the agreement to be released before it is signed by the Australian government.

"There is a national interest in the government providing the transparency that enables Australians to understand what trade agreements mean, what benefits they bring, and what compromises we are being asked to make, and the TPP is no exception," Wong said.

"Labor believes the full text of any proposed TPP should be released well before it is signed. That is the commitment the United States trade representative has given to Congress, and the Australian Parliament and people are entitled to no less."

Although the Labor government would have had access to the draft of the text, and did not release it prior to the election, a spokesperson for Wong told ZDNet that the main concern was what was in the final text, which would be vastly different to what was included in the drafts.

Topics: Government, Government AU, Australia

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Armed with a degree in Computer Science and a Masters in Journalism, Josh keeps a close eye on the telecommunications industry, the National Broadband Network, and all the goings on in government IT.

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9 comments
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  • Who is laughing now..

    We should be suing the goverment.

    TPP was never about TRADING WITH OTHER COUNTRIES, it was meant to control PIRACY and COPYRIGHT, GEO BLOCKING ETC.
    DanielZenno
  • Perhaps...

    ...the recently departed Labor Government should have done it before now (perhaps the former Foreign Minister could say something about that, or former Prime Minister Rudd, who recently retired from politics), but the suggestion appears to be a good one, nevertheless.
    John L. Ries
    • Agreed....

      but it was both Rudd and Gillard who refused to sign it, while Abbott couldn't run towards it fast enough.
      Bill Fernhill
      • TPP

        it seems ,an indecent haste to dismantle our sovereignity............
        thomas vesely
  • When to releae

    I agree it really is pointless to release drafts for dissemination. The key to this is this statement

    "Labor believes the full text of any proposed TPP should be released well before it is signed. That is the commitment the United States trade representative has given to Congress, and the Australian Parliament and people are entitled to no less."
    joerosexemail
    • Re: When to release

      "Although the Labor government would have had access to the draft of the text, and did not release it prior to the election, a spokesperson for Wong told ZDNet that the main concern was what was in the final text, which would be vastly different to what was included in the drafts."

      I don't really agree that it's "pointless", it makes a lot more sense to get the TPP in line with what it will be a lot earlier by allowing public debate on it.

      What is pointless is the negotiators arguing endlessly about things that the public just wont stand for, and then releasing it. They should just be negotiating the stuff that will stay.
      Tinman_au
  • Time for Tor.

    Now they want it made public. Hypocrisy of the highest order.
    I was hoping that I wouldn't have to but, it looks like implementing Tor on my system is now inevitable.
    harryxebec@...
  • Hmmm...

    Penny Pot Kettle Black methinks, still better late than never...
    btone-c5d11
  • sell out, cut rate citizens !!

    we, and everyone in the region, have no idea how good we had it until this and the
    american "Pacific Pivot"..............
    thomas vesely