January 26, 2015 | Ronda Jambe

Trans-Pacific Partnership shows democratic deficit

It is easy to be blase about corruption in other places. No one thinks much of what passes for government in countries like Saudi Arabia, Nigeria, or other places that don’t think much of human rights. (Lots of things upset me about our PM’s ideology, but I sleep better at night knowing he doesn’t keep his daughters captive.)

But when it comes to Australia, we often think ‘she’ll be right’, because we have elections. We don’t shoot journalists, do we? We assume we have all the information we need to make the wise choices at election time that keep this country safe and plump.

Except when it comes to dark and stalking monsters like the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which will be negotiated shortly for perhaps the last time in New York and Brussels.

The text of the proposed agreement is not being released, and groups like SumofUs.org, a US based member-driven social justice group, have this to say about it:

‘Leaks from the negotiations paint a terrible picture of what the world could be like if these deals pass: sky-high costs for life-saving cancer treatment, further devastation of the world’s poor, and the right for big corporations to sue governments in secret courts for billions — just for passing laws that protect families, workers and the planet.

With only days to go until the next rounds of negotiations begin, we need to get access to these texts urgently.

Trade deals used to be about trade — but now they’re being used as a tool to sneak major changes to our democratic laws and regulatory systems that benefit corporations, while hurting us.’

This isn’t about the Yanks leading us a merry dance; it is a global assault led by the largest corporations. For Australians, one of the big issues will be the cost of medecines under our Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme, and the abovementioned potential for groups and even the government to be taken to court for passing laws that protect our citizens’ interests.

What I cannot understand is why any Australian government would agree to such conditions, as it can only lead to hardship down the track. It will foster disrespect for government, and great anger when the consequences arrive.

Revisiting the idea of a republic this Australia Day is just a distraction. We need to get serious about protecting the sovreignty we have now.


Posted by Ronda Jambe at 12:46 pm | Comments (15) |


  1. I find it almost impossible to believe our PM or parliament could be party to any of the “leaks” you have suggests as being current part of current discussions.

    Have you anything more substantial to add to these troubling allegations Ronda?

    And why would such talks be conducted in so much secrecy?
    If that’s what’s actually happening?

    As for our sovereignty, well we do need to get serious about our national economic sovereignty.

    Preferably before we wake up needing to sing, ying tong ying tong piddle li po piddle li po, while a predominantly red flag is raised?

    Many nations have used self-terminating thirty year bonds to get infrastructure development funds from foreigners and their own supper funds.

    We need the funds, not the foreigners or foreign control!

    And we need long overdue tax reform to stop foreigners earning money here and not paying normal tax on any profits earned here!

    However, that’s another topic for another day.

    And while the actual returns from 30 year self terminating bonds may be modest, granting them a tax free status, is enough to interest many retirees, and others, including corporations with trillions held in coffers doing nothing; looking for not just a return, but a safe haven as well.

    This money needs to be invested where it does two things.

    Make enough money to recover the original outlays/service the bonds; and boost the local economy.

    Rapid rail would do both those things and a useful place to start.

    And as such allow us to exercise our own economic sovereignty; as would mining the reef for a possible bonanza, of very low cost very low carbon fuel.

    As would creating a nuclear powered national fleet, given bulk freight forwarding remains one of the most profitable business models; and we a maritime nation, are bleeding huge amounts of possible profits, to overseas shipping companies.

    Other smaller nations are able to do this, therefore what aside from nonsensical ideology prevents us from doing the same, and or, just charting our own course and local success stories?

    As would be the case, were we to just start to invest in our own people and their better ideas.

    Every western style economy, rests on just two economic pillars, energy and capital!

    And as long as we decide to allow others to control or ration both for us, we will remain firmly under the heel of foreign nations!

    Even so, there is a way out, and we continue to need to keep our eyes glued on what is being agreed in our name.

    Particularly just how disastrous some of the FTA’s have been thus far, and none more one sided than the one we currently have with our bigger American ally.

    Like you Ronda, I do hope there’s nothing nasty to hide happening in our name; and in comparative secret?
    As you seem to allude?
    Alan B. Goulding.

    Comment by Alan B. Goulding — January 26, 2015 @ 7:01 pm

  2. Well, for once I sort of agree with Alan. If what is agreed is secret, how do you know what it is that has been agreed? And how could you possibly expect someone doing a negotiation to share every moment of that negotiation with the world?

    Comment by Graham — January 26, 2015 @ 10:43 pm

  3. Ronda wrote,
    “….even the government to be taken to court for passing laws that protect our citizens’ interests”.
    What is proposed is a “court” composed largely of lawyers with a corporation history.

    Obviously Alan and Graham have not followed this subject. I first wrote to Andrew Robb on this subject in November/December 2013 and have replies to three letters in total.

    Everyone should be aware that inclusion of ISDS clauses in an old “Free” Trade agreement with Hong Kong is now holding up efforts by at least two countries (Belgium and NZ) to protect citizens from the ill health problems associated with smoking. I wonder whether the comany that has taken action against Australia over plain packaging is interested in concluding the case as the delays that the action is causing is already serving the company’s purposes, stalling other countries from taking similar action on plain packaging.

    Anyone interested should look at what George Monbiot of The Guardian has written on the subject of TPP and its twin TTIP, the USA/Europe version of TTP.
    Why American pharmaceutical companies need more for prescription medicines is beyond me. In her book, The Entrepreneurial State, Professor Mariana Mazzucato points out that almost all research in medicines in the USA is either carried out in government owned or government funded laboratories. She quotes on anti-cancer drug which was developed in that way and costs $1,000 to produce for a years treatment but is charged at $20,000 per year. The government royalty charge is a fraction of one percent.

    Comment by John Turner — January 27, 2015 @ 7:51 am

  4. The TPP is written by big Corporates for big corporates. We now have a situation whereby big corporates tell our Govts what policies fit their agendas.

    Central bankers create most of the new money for our Govts to function. They also bring in new laws for bailing into our bank deposits and our pollies are like obedient serfs and sell us out again. They signed off on “Bail in” at the last G20 in Brisbane.

    Rhonda is right on this one.

    Comment by Ross — January 27, 2015 @ 12:00 pm

  5. I thought I entered some links this morning, but don’t see them.

    they were for the TPP in Choice mag, and in the Washington Post, and in Electronic Frontiers. All mention concerns about intellectual property, transparency, and secrecy.

    Comment by ronda jambe — January 27, 2015 @ 1:53 pm

  6. http://www.globalresearch.ca/updated-secret-trans-pacific-partnership-agreement-tpp-freedom-of-information-civil-liberties-and-access-to-medicines-at-stake/5408730

    Dr Paul Craig Roberts. The TPP gives Corporations power over our Govts. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w7N666KdxcE

    Comment by Ross — January 27, 2015 @ 8:19 pm

  7. and here’s the link to the Get Up video that explains why we should be protesting loudly:


    Comment by ronda jambe — January 27, 2015 @ 9:31 pm

  8. Ronda, Ross thanks for the interesting links. What can one say except, well where there’s smoke there’s usually some fire, and the links do seem to provide some substance to the allegations?

    However, the fact that these talks seem to have stalled seems to say some have dug their heels in and refuse to be party to some/many of the changes.

    Now I’m no fan of Tony Abbott, but I do believe he has integrity and would refuse point blank to sign away rights that have taken decades to achieve.

    Big pharma already has enough rights and, I believe, already price gouges its consumer base!?

    I mean, it charges HIV patients in North America some $20,000.00 PA each, for drugs that might cost $2,000.00 elsewhere as generics?

    And there’s at least a million of HIV/Aid’s suffers in North America alone.

    Or put another way, I believe, at least 20 million reasons PA, not to search for a cure?

    Big Pharma makes billions and has already tried and failed to impose its will on Canada, where some Americans now go, just to obtain still affordable medicine.

    That said, there ‘s simply no way one can envisage Tony Abbott trading away our advantages for the modern day equivalent, of thirty pieces of silver.

    Before he’s a hardened politician he’s an Australian cognizant of the sacrifices hundreds of thousands of Aussies had made for our freedoms.

    And if someone who is party to those talks is leaking?
    Doing anything not in our interests would be political suicides surely?

    Besides, Canada holds her bigger neighbor by the short and curlies, given the recent oil finds that may well rival Saudi Arabia are in Edmonton!

    And sure to hold the attention of the neighbor needing to still import some 8 billion barrels of oil annually.

    And bound to continue for some years, given there seems little appetite to replace conventional or tight oil with an algae based industry.

    I mean, if you drive a diesel or petrol powered vehicle, you’re driving on algae; albeit ancient algae.

    Algae don’t need arable land or even fresh water, and thrive in affluent or even sea water.

    They absorb 2.5 times their bodyweight in atmospheric carbon; and they double their bodyweight and absorption capacity every twenty four hours.

    Some algae are up to 60% oil. Some types naturally produce ready to use as is, diesel, another produces critical jet fuel.

    Some industry experts are on the public record saying these fuels could be retailed; even with an excise imposed, for just 44 cents a litre.
    And as such, the biggest threat on the planet to the profit margins of the current oil industry, currently raking in around four trillion a year; or four trillions reasons to delay the development of the viable alternatives for as long as possible!?

    And just as devious and disingenuous as the tobacco industry in protecting those margins, regardless of any potential harm!?

    And given energy is half the support base of every western style democracy and underpins our security, sure to figure in or impact on the alluded to discussions?

    We for our part need to roll back some of our previous commitments.
    One of which seems to having made a virtual gift of pulsed laser light uranium enrichment, to the Yanks?

    And start as early as possible to finally achieve complete self sufficiency in our own energy needs.

    Even as a temporary measure, to provide the funding to kick start our own endlessly sustainable alternatives!

    Of all the corporations in the world, those with the biggest pockets and greatest influence, I believe, are the petrochemical industries; the only possible reason, I believe for leaving a bonanza of very low cost, very low carbon indigenous fuel alternatives in the ground?

    Particularly now, when any patently pragmatically lead nation would be using these essential resources to buy back our total economic sovereignty, and set us up as a high tech exporter, supported by endlessly sustainable low cost alternatives.

    I mean we can borrow a few billions in foreign capital or as an exporting oil producer and truly sovereign economy; earn trillions of it; and the capital needed to set up much more sustainable alternatives/truly independent future; no longer eternally dependent on the nipple of equally endless foreign capital!

    I mean an algae based oil industry, would be the absolute savior of the Murray/Darling basin.

    In conclusion, one might agree that Tony Abbot is not everyone’s favorite politician; but nonetheless, first and foremost, comes across as a committed patriot!
    Alan B. Goulding.

    Comment by Alan B. Goulding — January 28, 2015 @ 12:14 pm

  9. Very interesting comment on Tony Abbott Alan Goulding. He is not in favour of the CO2 tax which Goldman Sachs accolade Malcolm Turnbull trumpets, and is appearing to to a patriot which Rupert Murdoch the globalist “New World Order” philosophy pays homage to.

    Could it be that Tony Abbott wants Australia to become a sovereign state and this is why the New World Order media want him gone?

    I’ve been a critic of Abbott for his move to austerity but perhaps there is a glimmer of hope that he is batting for Australia unlike the majority of our pollies.

    Comment by Ross — January 28, 2015 @ 6:14 pm

  10. Typical GetUp nonsense. Happy for Australia to sign-up to foreign treaties that suit their view of the world. They even stoop to trying to justify internet piracy. What a joke.

    Comment by Graham — January 28, 2015 @ 7:42 pm

  11. Graham generally I don’t like Getup who seem to be the controlled opposition of our elite financial counterfeiters of our currencies,but on this issue I agree with Getup.

    Do you Graham,agree with the concept of “bail in” ie the confiscation of money we deposit with banks ? You seem to be very silent on this issue.

    Comment by Ross — January 28, 2015 @ 8:37 pm

  12. Well Ross, he only has to knight a few more royals, and everyone will be so incensed with his obtuse actions, they will likely forget all his other shortcomings?

    What should we call the Queen’s consort now?
    Sir Prince perhaps?
    Perhaps the Queen could respond by knighting the knight?
    And then we could call him Sir Lord barren Baron, Duke of the outer New Hebrides HRH or some such benighted nomenclature?

    The PM has apparently put Sir Rupert offside, who wants him to sack his personal assistant or take the fall?

    Well perhaps a regime change is in order, the usual consequence of getting offside with Emperor Murdoch?

    You know, the one with a Ruler’s vision for Australia!?

    On a serious note, we a gold producer could insulate ourselves against some of the harm that could be done by big merchant banks needing to offload their derivatives, by returning to the gold standard?

    As opposed to going down with the sinking ship that could very easily be a vastly over leveraged corporate America.

    And only so some of the bigger banks can hoard even more money; money which should even now, be plowed into massive capital works, to get America into overdrive, and really working again!

    And we do need to enshrine senior deposits in law, as having the very first bite of any cherry, should any of our banks or “guests”, need to declare themselves insolvent or bankrupt; as a means to bury some of their unrepayable debt/derivatives.

    Our own people and their personal savings are far more important than American corporations grown too big to fail.
    I mean, we should see the sucker punch coming!

    And we would be wise to take this action before China preempts us, by substituting gold for increasingly abundant, virtually worthless USD!
    Alan B. Goulding.

    Comment by Alan B. Goulding — January 29, 2015 @ 10:51 am

  13. Alan we only have 80 tons of gold and the Bank of England has that. It may no longer exist. We are one of the largest gold producers but large corporates own it.

    Our Govt is in huge debt and should never have sold off the Commonwealth Bank. We are starting to see inflation rise here and the banks are creating this via debt.http://www.australiandebtclock.com.au/ Our total debt is over $5 trillion or $200,000 per head of population. Govt debt is about $50,000 for every tax payer.Our total net worth is approx $ 376,000 per head of pop. Who owns the debt and most of this wealth is the big question.

    There are many people who believe Govt is so incompetent that everything should be privatised. If this happens we no longer live in a democracy and this is why the TPP needs close scrutiny.

    Comment by Ross — January 29, 2015 @ 7:56 pm

  14. Gold mines are not on owned land Ross, just government owned or resumed land, and all miners need government permission to extend their leases!

    They can only extend leases to a certain limit, which must be worked out, to the satisfaction of the mines inspector, before new extremely rich tenements/extensions are handed out.

    At least that’s how it used to be when the place was last run by pragmatists, not given to folding, or being blinded by really big numbers; or rank stupidity.

    Really big number aren’t worth very much to us, when all they do is produce higher profit graphs in some foreign located boardroom/tax haven!

    And that is why we must return to the idea of a reasonable resource rent tax.

    For heaven’s sake, this cost is like any other and can be used to legitimately write down or write off income tax!

    And closing down the current loopholes that permit tax evasion, would surely make a legitimate write offs very desirable?

    And some just take out mining leases merely to hold the land as some sort of barely worked land bank, or prevent others developing it?

    Some of these things should change; like an undeveloped tenement being forfeit to the crown if not properly worked for a period of ninety days; and I think a resource rent should replace royalties?

    Particularly where mines are mothballed at the behest of a foreign corporation; and therefore pay no royalties or anything else for that matter, to anyone!

    If they want to hold the unowned resource, they should be obliged to pay for the unowned resource!

    And I can recall a time when all gold producers had to sell their gold to the government, at an agreed price.

    And yes that did create a small but relatively vigorous black market.

    Worth tolerating perhaps, to ensure gold flowed into our own government coffers yet again?

    We could do this again if we were to return to a gold standard.

    And if the big corporations didn’t like that, well their forfeited holdings could be auctioned off, to any local miner, happy to take a more modest profit, and have it and any other tax liability remain in the country!

    Even if you own freehold land, you only ever own the top thirty one feet!

    All mineral wealth below that depth remains the exclusive property of the crown.

    In the case of gold miners?
    Well they could pay all their resource rent in minerals, gold if the mine produces any of that.
    Meaning, it’d be almost impossible to completely mothball a still viable mine?

    I found it passing strange that we as a gold and silver owner, needed to import our original coinage, and or English bank notes.

    We were I daresay, like colonial India, treated as England’s personal piggy bank?

    A role since taken up or so it seems by every foreign corporation or pyramid scheme!?

    There’s a lot to be said for owning your own economic sovereignty; and or doing what must be done to reacquire/resuscitate it; even if that requires the exploitation of our largest sacred cow, namely, the Great Barrier Reef!

    And by a government corporation only, to minimize the harm or have what is unavoidable, acceptable and repairable.

    Just as nature does after every big cyclone destroys far more that we ever could, were we to mine every drop of oil and gas bound to be found there.

    Preferably before someone far to big to say no to, comes down here and does it for us, and to hell with any sensible environmental precautions, or post mining/drilling remediation work!

    True economic sovereignty, would allow us to make our own commercial decisions in each and every case; rather than have them made for us by some unrepresentative Quango, half a world away; or ultra devious competitor/massive misinformation!

    I can assure you if we only had one weeks worth of food left, every farmer would be extolled to get very busy sowing and reaping!

    Always providing they can put still affordable fuel in the tractors or harvesters!

    We can’t make it rain, but even sea/salt water can be used to irrigate some broad scale farm production, if it’s used in a particular way and underground; except algae, which will happily grow in it!
    Alan B. Goulding.

    Comment by Alan B. Goulding — January 30, 2015 @ 11:11 am

  15. A very important link on the TPP by Bill Still.http://youtu.be/kQQLeervHOs

    The TPP means a loss of national sovereignty by giving far too much power to large corporates. They are still refusing to divulge important segments of this agreement which they will try to ram through Congress in the next 30-60 days.

    Comment by Ross — February 1, 2015 @ 9:53 am

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