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 far as it goes, that sounds good. But then something strange happened, as the Pirate Party Australia explained:
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.
Pirate Party Australia has received confirmation that the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) has rescinded confirmations of attendance for journalists to the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement briefing to be held in Sydney at 4pm on 30 October, stating that the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.