Michael Geist notes that the Australian Government's Productivity Commission (which is apparently an independent research and advisory arm) is suggesting that the government no longer agree to include intellectual property issues in trade agreements
-- and specifically focuses on the lack of evidence that such intellectual property agreements benefit Australia economically. It suggests that such agreements should only be allowed "after an economic assessment of the impacts, including on consumers, in Australia and partner countries." In other words, it looks like at least some in Australia are realizing that "faith-based" intellectual property policy-making is a bad idea. In fact, the report notes that most of these agreements appear to benefit a few US companies, but do little to help Australia.
The Commission is not convinced, however, that the approach adopted by Australia in relation to IP in trade agreements has always been in the best interests of either Australia or (most of) its trading partners. Among other things, there does not appear to have been any economic analysis of the specific provisions in AUSFTA undertaken prior to the finalisation of negotiations, nor incorporated in the government’s supporting documentation to the parliament. As noted above, the AUSFTA changes to copyright imposed net costs on Australia, and extending these changes to other countries would be expected to impose net costs on them, principally to the benefit of third parties.
What third parties? That's obvious:
"most of the benefits to IP rights holders from measures to promote adherence to existing rules in partner countries can be expected to accrue to third parties, such as rights holders in the United States."
Of course, Australia is one of the countries involved in ACTA -- which has no such economic analysis. Any chance at all that the Australian government actually listens to the Productivity Commission and requires an economic analysis first? I wouldn't bet on it.