Australian Government Announces Rare Public Consultation On TPP -- Then Bans All Journalists From Attending

from the something-to-hide? dept

As Techdirt has noted many times, the TPP negotiations -- like ACTA before them and now TAFTA/TTIP -- are distinguished by an almost complete lack of transparency. That makes the rare opportunities offered by governments participating in TPP to find out more, particularly valuable and important. Here's one announced recently by the Australian government:

Dear TPP Stakeholders,

As part of the Australian Government's ongoing public consultation process on the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP) negotiations, the TPP negotiating team will be visiting Sydney on 30 October 2013 to meet with interested members of the public, and business and civil society stakeholders. The meeting will provide an update on the negotiations and an opportunity for further stakeholder input.
As far as it goes, that sounds good. But then something strange happened, as the Pirate Party Australia explained:
Pirate Party Australia has received confirmation that the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) has rescinded confirmations of attendance for journalists to the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement briefing to be held in Sydney at 4pm on 30 October, stating that the meeting is "off-the-record", and that journalists are not welcome.
Not only did the Australian government rescind invitations to journalists, but it also "disappeared" the whole event from its Web site. And it gets even better. Brendan Molloy, Councillor of Pirate Party Australia, is quoted as saying:
"I've already had a freedom of information request have a fee levied with the justification that the TPP isn't in the public interest because there have been few articles written about it. It's pretty hard to write an article about something when you're barred from attending the briefings, and instead offered an arrangement where you're spoonfed Government spin and prevented from hearing the important, unanswered questions being asked by the stakeholders that shine a harsher light on this secretive agreement," concluded Mr Molloy.
In other words, the Australian government refuses to release information about TPP freely, because it says that too few articles have been written about it. And then it bans journalists from attending public meetings, thus making it harder for them to write articles on the subject. Classy.

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Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 7th, 2013 @ 12:06am

    An "off-the-record", public event? I can't believe these are the morons in charge of shaping the future of our global economy. We're doomed.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 7th, 2013 @ 12:53am

    The Australian Government, courtesy of Kafka...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 7th, 2013 @ 1:01am

    The Australian government will talk to the hand one of this days.

    When it gets bitch slapped around in public they better take it like big boys and girls.

    I am starting to think that what people need is a government map a type of Facegov where every public servant is profiled so people can see what their bias and thus tendencies are and where all this crap is coming from, is not from elected official those are dumb as knobs when it comes to these types of agreements and other aspects of the government.

    Tracing the connections is very important for targeting the right places for change, elected officials are proxies they are not the real source of the problems.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
     
    identicon
    out_of_the_blew_janet_renos_monster_cock, Nov 7th, 2013 @ 1:45am

    They're pure evil!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 7th, 2013 @ 2:43am

    The story I'd like to see...

    Every time journalists get barred from things like this, which are clearly in the public interest to be informed about, I would like to see a front page story like:

    Abbott in talks to allow child abduction

    Australian PM Tony Abbott has refused to deny speculation that the Australian Government is in talks that would allow foreign nationals the right to freely trade in children sold into slavery.

    While the federal Government held a briefing on the current status of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement, all journalists have been actively barred from attending the briefing. As a result, we have been unable to verify the status of the controversial measure, which would allow foreign companies the right to protect their investments in Australian children.

    When asked to comment, deputy leader Julie Bishop said, "I'm not going to comment on what may or may not be in the agreement."

    So far the speculation has been mounting. With silence from the Liberal Government around the current status of the agreement, there are questions surrounding whether some of the measures being discussed are even more potentially sensitive than the proposal to allow the free trading of children a young as 18 months old.

    C'mon The Age - you know you really want to!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6.  
    identicon
    S. T. Stone, Nov 7th, 2013 @ 2:48am

    Re:

    Marked ‘funny’ for the name alone.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 7th, 2013 @ 2:59am

    Re: The story I'd like to see...

    What about:
    "Secretive TPP meeting cover for Al-Qaeda terrorist meeting!"
    "TPP meeting actually child abuse convention"

    Australian PM refuses to talk to the press...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 7th, 2013 @ 3:05am

    been prompted on what to put out and how to put it out by some members of a different nation via a different agency, by the sounds of it. i cannot for the life of me see how any agreement that affects the public the greatest also refuses to have any views or input from the public and can still try to call this an 'agreement'. it's nothing other than a way of getting corporate greed written into countries laws. there is nothing in it that will benefit the public in the slightest and with the main input coming from corporations, what does that lead people to believe is going to come out of it? whatever is best for those corporations, that's what!!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9.  
    identicon
    S. T. Stone, Nov 7th, 2013 @ 3:32am

    Re: The story I'd like to see...

    Eh, I’d think that’d end up a little too close to the line of defamation/outright lying for a lot of news outlets’ tastes.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 7th, 2013 @ 3:38am

    Re: Re: The story I'd like to see...

    Just add a question mark, then it won't be lying anymore...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 7th, 2013 @ 4:16am

    Re: Re: The story I'd like to see...

    Never stopped Fox or ABC (Australian, not American) before.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 7th, 2013 @ 4:43am

    "It's pretty hard to write an article about something when you're barred from attending the briefings..."

    Amateurs.

    Mainstream media has no problems writing extensively about things they know nothing about.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13.  
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    That One Guy (profile), Nov 7th, 2013 @ 4:45am

    Re: The story I'd like to see...

    Honestly, you wouldn't even need to resort to that level of 'speculation', just have the papers start posting what people have been suspecting about the treaties, like enshrining corporate sovereignty, stripping of public rights in favor of companies, massive threats to the internet via forcing every company to be liable for the actions of their users...

    It wouldn't even be too out of bounds to assume things like that, they've been tried elsewhere, and the fact that they are so utterly obsessed with keeping everything secret from the public screams louder than words that what they are negotiating is very much not for the benefit of the public.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14.  
    icon
    That One Guy (profile), Nov 7th, 2013 @ 4:54am

    I have to wonder, how exactly do they plan on enforcing the 'no reporters' and 'off the record' rules?

    I mean, a couple of decades back it would have been easy to spot a reporter, as they'd likely be fairly well known as working for a given news agency, but these days anyone can fill that role, so what, do they plan on kicking out anyone who appears to be recording the lecture*? Are they going to show to the door anyone who appears to be taking notes or asking difficult questions?

    *The odds of such an event being anything more than the TPP reps just repeating who awesome the TPP is, and how secrecy is vital to it is slim to none, so it very much won't be a discussion.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 7th, 2013 @ 5:01am

    You see, governments are fine with "debating stuff" - as long as you agree with them. Heck, if you do, they might even help you get on TV and "debate" all you want in favor of what they're doing.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 7th, 2013 @ 5:09am

    To Ozzies Everywhere

    The US Govt wishes to thank you in advance for willynilly handing your markets over to us. Aussie Beef RIP

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17.  
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    nasch (profile), Nov 7th, 2013 @ 7:44am

    Re:

    Are they going to show to the door anyone who appears to be taking notes or asking difficult questions?

    That one sounds pretty plausible.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18.  
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    nasch (profile), Nov 7th, 2013 @ 7:45am

    Opacity

    In other words, the Australian government refuses to release information about TPP freely, because it says that too few articles have been written about it. And then it bans journalists from attending public meetings, thus making it harder for them to write articles on the subject.

    Yeah, you know... transparency!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19.  
    identicon
    The Real Michael, Nov 7th, 2013 @ 8:50am

    Whatever is in this secretive TPP, you know it's bad for the public.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 7th, 2013 @ 8:02pm

    Re:

    Should not have been reported. Any fool can tell this isn't the real jackass out_of_the_blue, who is leagues below this guy's level of intelligence. Have a funny.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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