Yet again, the Australian public is forced to rely on leaked documents to find out what might be in the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement. CHOICE doesn’t think this is good enough, and calls on the government to release the full text while there’s still time.
We now have access to a new intellectual property chapter for the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement, also known as the TPP. Did the government listen to our calls to release the text? Unfortunately, no – this is another Wikileaks document leak.
The TPP negotiations are still dogged by secrecy, and the Australian public is forced to rely on leaked documents to gain an understanding of this important trade agreement. CHOICE wants the government to release the text before it’s too late, so that a fair and transparent public debate can open up.
We’ve analysed the leaked document; here’s our take on the text.
There’s not a lot of good to report on. It doesn’t look like much has changed since the last leaked version of this chapter was released.
A provision that would effectively enable companies to continuously re-patent their drugs, delaying the release of cheaper generics, remains in the text. The silver lining is that while this provision is still supported by the US and Japan, opposition from other countries seems to have grown after public outrage following the last leak.
Many of the problems that were in the earlier version of the intellectual property chapter remain. Most worryingly, those provisions that will lead to reduced access to cheaper, generic drugs are still included in this latest leaked document.
Opposition to some of the most damaging provisions has been worn down. For instance, there was previously substantial disagreement over a proposal to criminalise non-commercial copyright infringement – infringement that doesn’t lead to any financial benefit for the infringing party. In the current draft, Canada is the only country left opposing on this.
Next week, ministers will meet in Sydney for what is intended to be a decisive, final meeting. The entire agreement has been negotiated in secrecy, despite the fact that it has tremendous potential to impact on Australian domestic law and policy. Over 14,000 CHOICE campaign supporters called on the government to release the text; they haven’t listened yet and time is running out.
We think that the Australian public has a right to be involved in an open and transparent consultation on the TPP, and to do that, we need full access to the text. Will the government act now, or continue its practice of secretive, closed-door meetings?