The Australian Greens’ spokesperson on trade, Senator Peter Whish-Wilson, called on the federal government to ‘come clean’ about what was discussed in respect of the TPP at a side meeting of APEC in Peru.
In relation to trade talks, the guidance on caretaker conventions, published by the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, states that the government “ordinarily seeks to defer … negotiations or adopts observer status until the end of the caretaker period.”
Senator Whish-Wilson said, “I call on the government to reveal what Australia’s status was at the side meeting at APEC? Did Australia put forward any formal position? If so, what was that position?”
“This is particularly important given reports that the United States is seeking ‘side letters’ to the TPP which would increase the monopoly powers of multinational pharmaceutical companies on biologic medicines and challenge domestic privacy protections.
“The US has a track record of rewriting agreements after the deal is done. Big pharma pushed for changes to the copyright provisions of the Australia-US FTA after it was signed. The US government actually forced the Australian government to change its enacting legislation to suit its interpretation of the agreement.
“We know that US pharmaceutical companies want greater monopoly powers through the TPP. Our government needs to be straight with the public about what is on the table and what the impact would be to our health care.
“We should not be letting big pharma dictate our health policy. The US is not an example of what a 21st century health care system should look like,” he concluded.