The TPP: The dirtiest, most dangerous trade deal you've probably never heard of

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The secretive Trans Pacific Partnership is reportedly close to being finalised, which is bad news for people who don't want to give away their rights and freedoms to multinational corporations, says GetUp!.

GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS from around the world have been meeting in New York to negotiate the controversial Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP). It's a deal, so shrouded in secrecy, even our own Parliament doesn't know the details.

If Australia signs onto the TPP, it will give multinational corporations the power to sue the Australian Government for decisions they claim impacts their investments in Australia.

The most recent meeting in New York just wound up at the beginning of this week and a deal is reportedly close. But it's not too late. We have an opportunity right now, to tell our politicians that we don't want a deal that will prevent our access to affordable medication, allow foreign companies to sue our Government for protecting people over profits, or restrict our internet freedoms.

We've already seen the dangerous implications of these powers played out right here in Australia. Similar provisions in an Australian-Hong Kong treaty are being used by U.S. global cigarette and tobacco company, Phillip Morris, to sue the Australian Government over the introduction of plain-packaging laws.

Forces all around the world are banding together to stop this deal from going ahead, to ensure their governments can't be sued for making decisions that are in the public interest.

If foreign corporations are given the power to sue national governments when changes to domestic laws affect their profit margins, it will inevitably restrict our government's ability to put in place regulations to protect our environmental assets and our health. What's worse, these lawsuits would be played out in secret international courts, which only corporations have access to, with no rights of appeal.

It's hard to believe this could happen in Australia, but there are already cases around the world of companies using what's known as Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) provisions to sue governments:

  • A foreign-owned energy company filed a $250 million lawsuit against the Canadian government, when Quebec placed a ban on dangerous fracking processes in a local river.
  • In El Salvador, a Canadian company is suing the government for $315 million in "loss of future profits" because local citizens won a hard-fought campaign against a gold mine that threatened to contaminate their water supplies.
  • An international utilities company sued the Argentinian Government, for imposing a freeze on water and energy bills during the global financial crisis.
  • And in Canada, U.S. pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly is suing the government for $500 million in compensation, because the courts revoked two of the company's patents citing lack of evidence around the drugs' supposed benefits.

Do we want to live in a country where foreign-owned companies have the right to sue our government for introducing laws to protect our farms, land, water or even our health? International corporations should not be able to take the Australian Government to court. It flies in the face of democracy and will leave taxpayers at risk of paying corporations enormous amounts in compensation.

Worryingly, Trade Minister Andrew Robb has already indicated he's willing to sign on to the deal, which is why we need to act quickly.

Here in Australia, only one in ten voters have heard about the TPP. But if this deal goes ahead, it will be all of us who stand to lose — so it's time we spoke up. We need as many Australians as possible to hear about the dangers of the TPP.

The deal is still being negotiated, but could be finalised when ministers from the 12 different countries next meet. So we need to get the word out there and make some noise before Minister Robb signs the dotted line. The fight to stop the TPP is a huge, coordinated, international resistance and the more people who join the fight, the better our chances will be.

The mother of all trade deals has kicked off the mother of all campaigns — with millions of people around the world joining the fight to stop the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement (TPP).

Since January, more than 100,000 people have watched our new video explaining the dirtiest dirty deal you've never heard of. Almost 50,000 people have signed our petition to stop a secretive treaty that threatens our national interest. But we need to work even harder if we're going to get the word out about a deal that few Australians have even heard of.

Find out my about GetUp!'s campaign by clicking here. Follow GetUp! on Twitter @GetUp.

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