I use my member’s statement today to draw the attention of the people of Victoria to some of the potential impacts for Australia if we as a nation enter into the transpacific partnership (TPP) agreement.
This agreement is being negotiated between Australia, the United States and 10 other Asia-Pacific rim countries.
Very little factual information has been provided about the long-term impacts of this agreement, and concerns are being raised about a number of issues.
For instance, the TPP agreement could threaten our ability to place health warnings on the labels of food, tobacco and alcohol products.
It could affect our food labelling laws.
It is thought that the TPP agreement may restrict the ability of governments to preference local products and services over imported ones, including sustainable locally grown food. This could have serious implications for our desire to market our food on the basis that it is a premium clean, green product. Multinational companies are likely to have access to a process called investor state dispute resolution, which allows them to go before special tribunals to challenge domestic policies and practices. For instance, Philip Morris has challenged antismoking packaging measures in Australia and Europe based on the argument that its intellectual property is being endangered. The risk is that multinationals may sue and achieve huge damages awards against governments that enact, for instance, health promotion and protection laws.
If investor state dispute settlement is included in the TPP agreement, then local, state and federal governments would be vulnerable to legal challenges from foreign companies, including large tobacco and food processing companies.