Australian Politicians Call For TPP Text To Be Made Public Before It's Signed

from the not-gonna-happen dept

Politicians for the opposition Labor Party in Australia have called on the government there to release the text of the TPP agreement before it's signed. Yes, it's crazy that this even needs to be discussed, but the latest round of negotiations are going on, and there have been some rumors that the plans are to let countries "sign" on at the end of the negotiations, before any text is officially released. Countries would still have to ratify, so the signature is largely symbolic, but it still seems fairly ridiculous that any government would agree to sign a massive trade agreement with huge implications for pretty much all of their citizens without the document ever being made public. Frankly, the idea that any country would consider moving forward with such an agreement before they've allowed any public discussion of the text is about as anti-democratic as you can imagine.

While it's good that the Labor party is making this request, the very fact that it needs to do so shows just how screwed up the entire TPP process is. It's a backroom deal put together to help a few big industries at the expense of nearly everyone else -- and the whole thing is secret. This isn't how countries which claim to be open, free and democratic are supposed to act. But, of course, as former USTR Ron Kirk admitted during a moment of candor, if the public actually got to see what's in the TPP, the agreement would never get approved. And that's exactly why it shouldn't be approved.

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1. identicon
    Just Sayin', Dec 6th, 2013 @ 12:26am


    I think if you pay a little attention, you would realize that many treaties, trade agreements, and cooperation agreements are signed well before a copy is made public.

    Just Sayin'...

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

  2. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 6th, 2013 @ 12:34am

    Hmm. sounds like a large dose of political posturing by the Labor Party. They only got kicked out of Govt about 100 days ago.....

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

  3. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 6th, 2013 @ 12:44am

    There's a reason we don't wanna make TPP-texts public. It would be bad for our citizen's health (and bloodpressure) if they knew what we were doing.

    We're just a governement concerned with our citizens, see?

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

  4. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 6th, 2013 @ 12:46am


    Which means some of them actually know what's in the treaty. And know that it will be enough to bring their opponents down.

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

  5. identicon
    Mr Big Content, Dec 6th, 2013 @ 12:52am

    For The Love Of Transparency, Please Do Not Do This

    It is really dismaying to see those who say they value transparency asking for this kind of unauthorized disclosure of sensitive confidential transparency documents before they have been completely transparency finalized and signed off. Dont you realize what kind of a blow this would be for transparency? These negotiations have already been so transparency, yet here you are trying to use transparency as an excuse to totally torpedo and sabotage this whole transparency agreement.

    It is already so full of transparency! Please dont throw all that transparency away, and waste the work of so many transparency groups over so many transparency years, just in the name of transparency. That would be so ironic.

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

  6. icon
    Lorpius Prime (profile), Dec 6th, 2013 @ 1:21am

    I feel compelled to point out that the Labor Party was the Australian government for the entire duration of the country's participation in TPP negotiations, right up until three months ago when they lost an election. They've had several years to release a text themselves.

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

  7. identicon
    anonymouse, Dec 6th, 2013 @ 1:21am


    Mike, you do not understand the issue here...... as long as the law is kept secret, forever, nobody has to abide by it. So all we have to do is demand that it top secret and that the judges and lawyers are not allowed to see it, so it cannot be used in any court case...ever!!!

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

  8. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 6th, 2013 @ 1:52am

    bit bloody late, isn't it? and even then, the opinion of the greatest section involved, the public, needs to be taken into account and seriously! from what i have read earlier today, the USA, typically, with all 'deals' that will benefit it and it's industries, while royally screwing every other country involved, is pushing extremely hard to get this passed over the weekend. i sincerely hope there is enough time to get the same reaction against this as there was against ACTA and stop it completely! imagine the celebration that will ensue if it is passed! it will seem as if it is not just this Xmas best present ever, it will seem as if all Xmases have come at once! except, of course, to the ones that really matter, ie, the public!
    these types of underhanded, secret meetings that are always started by the USA, that always threaten every other country that refuses to play ball, need to stop and stop now! the USA is not the only country in the world and it certainly produces far less in all things than it used to. it is no reason to keep screwing everyone else, just because it cant cut the mustard any more!

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

  9. icon
    Ninja (profile), Dec 6th, 2013 @ 2:16am

    Any government signing this bs without releasing the text is clearly not governing for the people. It is understandable that there are things that must be kept secret but such broad agreements that can affect the country laws should be public from the start.

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

  10. identicon
    Busted, Dec 6th, 2013 @ 2:28am

    Seems the morons running Canada signed without seeing it. I wonder how many other morons will sign? It's like going to a masquerade party and when you get there having to throw your keys in a jar.

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

  11. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 6th, 2013 @ 2:41am

    Re: Re:

    In case of international trade agreements: Bringing down the trade agreement is close to bringing down the government, or that is what the governments think.

    Governments fight tooth and nail to keep anything they have got some responsibility for producing alive. In this context it is likely that the opposition knows the crap they themself negotiated (it has been going for years of their time in government) and knows how much public vitriol it will likely catch. If anything, it is populistic hypocricy. On the other hand, trade agreements are screwing the legislative responsibilities over, making the concept open to attacks of imposing anti-democratic measures. Just because governments negotiate them, they are not inherently democratic!

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

  12. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 6th, 2013 @ 3:49am


    Anything being done in secret on your behalf is not being done for your benefit.

    Ergo: NSA, TPP, etc. .....

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

  13. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 6th, 2013 @ 4:18am

    Sure they'd change their tune if they got in.
    Don't trust labor nor liberal, both liars. Third parties are the only way, ldp and greens are good.

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

  14. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 6th, 2013 @ 4:34am


    " the USA, typically, with all 'deals' that will benefit it and it's industries, while royally screwing every other country involved,"

    These BS trade deals only benefit the 1% in the us - it totally screws over the other 99%. And don't kid yourself, other countries are not much different. The uber-riche pull strings and their political puppets dance.

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

  15. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 6th, 2013 @ 4:40am


    What would be a good example of a trade related item that needed to be secret, and why?

    Preferential treatment for political gain is not a good reason. For example, a discount on the latest and greatest killing machine in return for a military base in your country.

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

  16. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 6th, 2013 @ 4:42am


    Yeah, that's the answer - not

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

  17. icon
    G Thompson (profile), Dec 6th, 2013 @ 7:54am

    This motion WILL pass the Senate

    Ok firstly this is NOT a request its now a motion in the Senate backed by the MAJORITY of the Senate and the Australian Government (House of Representatives) which is currently controlled by the Liberal/National Coalition Parties MUST comply otherwise it can face dismissal (ie: the whole government is actually sacked and a new election occurs)

    As for anyones argument that they wont release the COMPLETE and TRUE copy of the TPP Treaty before any signage due to it being a part of the negotiation treaty not to release the documents.. that doesn't hold any sway under Australian law since if they do that (any Minister, Politician, or Bureaucrat) they are then in contempt of the Senate and also would face criminal charges under Australian law.

    The reasons that this motion will pass the Senate and will become a Compelling Order is that the Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) provisions have been revealed to be still part of the treaty that the Aust Government is willing to sign and the Senate believes, and rightly so, that "These provisions and others within the agreement pose a real a threat to Australia’s public interest laws that protect our environment and rural industries, and underpin public health".

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

  18. identicon
    Chris Brand, Dec 6th, 2013 @ 9:54am

    Symbolic signatures

    In theory the signature is symbolic, because it happens before the "democracy" part. In practice we've seen that when a treaty is discussed in the various parliaments the starting point is "we signed it, so we're obliged to ratify it", and it takes an awful lot of pressure from the public (to the level of marches in the streets) to prevent ratification being a foregone conclusion.

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

  19. icon
    Vic B (profile), Dec 6th, 2013 @ 11:03am

    Participative versus representative democracy

    I see what you're trying to say Mike although I'm not sure that you fully grasp the consequences of your wishes. Democracy doesn't necessarily mean everyone gets to chime in everything for a number of reasons, from process efficiency to competency and many others reasons, some good and some bad. That's why we elect and pay people, preferably with the required intellect and experience to make decisions for us. Representative government is the cornerstone of democracy. The kind of democracy you espouse, the populist so called participative democracy may be idealistically pure but, except for cases with relatively few participants, is always been a social disaster corrupted by fundamentalists of the worst breed, from religious zealots to right wing nuts. I realize it is more popular than ever to flame elected officials but at the end of the day it does nothing to strengthen our democractic principles but instead encourages anarchy or dogmatic crazies. Just my opinion.

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

  20. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 6th, 2013 @ 2:53pm

    Re: Out Of Government

    The OZ system is a bit different When a Party loses office that group has a huge internal reassessment of its direction and its policies, on the grounds, we lost government, it was our stupid policies, Parties Change Policies, If the Party doesn't change a policy that policy is really a core Ideology that identifies the party, anyway why knock them too hard, they can offer another voice to help destroy this anti-competitive, monopolistic, anti-innovation treaty.

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

  21. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 7th, 2013 @ 10:14pm

    Re: Participative versus representative democracy

    Actually, democracy Does mean everyone gets to chime in on everything. It's what the word Means. Rule by the people. Representative democracy doesn't underpin it, it Subverts it. Once you get parties going it's barely different, and not meaningfully so, from oligarchy using popularity contests rather than assasinations to facilitate handovers of power. Using dice would rarely be less meaningful.

    And, in some ways, rightly so at a national level. True democracy, like anarchy, communism, and other such things, doesn't Work beyond the level of Maybe a small town.

    That said, how, why, etc. of where you draw the lines to facilitate the creation of a government which can actually govern, with minimum reductions in liberty (absolutely everyone being at absolute liberty to do absolutely anything never ends well, you see, but you still want as much as possible while still having a functional society) is Very Important.

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

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