Submission on the Trade and Foreign Investment (Protecting the Public Interest) Act 2014

CPSA is strongly supportive of a ban on Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) clauses in international trade and investment agreements.

Download: pdfCPSA's submission on the Trade and Foreign Investment (Protecting the Public Interest) Act 2014166.45 KB

CPSA has expressed concern to the Australian Government about the lack of transparency surrounding the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade Agreement (TPPA) negotiation with the United States, New Zealand, Chile, Peru, Brunei, Singapore, Malaysia and Vietnam. These negotiations are likely to affect many facets of life and decisions should therefore be made by more democratic means with an informed electorate. CPSA calls for the release of the text of the agreement for public and Parliamentary scrutiny before it is signed by Cabinet.

CPSA is troubled by the heavy influence of US corporations in these negotiations. As pressure mounts to conclude the negotiations, CPSA continues to call on the Australian Government to reject clauses that give investors rights to sue governments which would result in a number of negative effects to Australians, including higher medicine prices.

Increased rights for patent and copyright holders through trade agreements come at the expense of consumers and reduce the capacity of Government to regulate in the interest of the Australian public. The added protection to Australian law and policy by banning investor-state dispute clauses in trade agreements would be welcomed as a protection for national laws implemented in the best interests of Australians.

Of particular concern to CPSA is the potential impact of the TPPA and other trade agreements on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme. The PBS plays a fundamental role in ensuring that our members and constituents have affordable access to medications. It is one of the fundamental pieces of our universal healthcare system. We are concerned that there is considerable and undue pressure being placed by pharmaceutical companies that want changes which could result in Australians having to pay higher medicine prices. Investor State Dispute Settlement clauses would result in Australians paying more for essential medicines and put the Australian Government at risk of legal action if generic alternatives and medicine subsidies are provided.

The Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) is crucial to ensuring that all Australians have access to essential medications and safeguards low income people against prohibitive costs. In the US where the Government does not have the same control over medicine pricing, the wholesale prices of medicines are between three and ten times the prices paid in Australia, leading to a lack of affordability for many low income people. CPSA is against proposals for increased rights for patent and copyright holders at the expense of health consumers and the Australian public at large. CPSA sees it as hugely inappropriate that corporations should be able to sue Governments for lost profits, particularly for positive, health related initiatives such as plain packaging of cigarettes.