The Government holds Parliament in contempt with trade deal secrecy
Today I forced the Government to explain why it ignored the requirement to consult with the Senate in advance of signing the Trans-Pacific Partnership or TPP-11 on the 8th of March 2018.Despite what the Government wants you to think the facts are not in dispute. The government did not table the TPP-11, in advance of signing it. The government holds the Senate, in contempt, by not complying with Senate rules which require these types of documents to be tabled at least 14 days before signing.You can watch my full response to the Government or read the full transcript here: https://www.senatorhanson.com.au/2018/12/05/the-government-holds-parliament-in-contempt-with-trade-deal-secrecy/Posted by Pauline Hanson's Please Explain on Wednesday, December 5, 2018
On Wednesday Pauline Hanson forced the Government to explain why it ignored the requirement to consult with the Senate in advance of signing the Trans-Pacific Partnership or TPP-11 on the 8th of March 2018.
Despite what the Government wants you to think the facts are not in dispute. The government did not table the TPP-11, in advance of signing it. The government holds the Senate, in contempt, by not complying with Senate rules which require these types of documents to be tabled at least 14 days before signing.
You can watch the video of Senator Hanson’s speech or read the full response here:
MALCOLM Turnbull called half a million Australians who voted for One Nation ‘dumb’ in the last federal election.
This assessment of voters, is one of the reasons, the government ignored the requirement to consult with the Senate in advance of signing the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for the Trans-Pacific Partnership or TPP-11 on the 8th of March 2018.
The facts are not in dispute. The government did not table the TPP-11, in advance of signing it. The government holds the Senate, in contempt, by not complying with Senate rules which require these types of documents to be tabled at least 14 days before signing.
The failure by the Attorney-General to release the full Brexit legal advice triggered a vote in the British Parliament yesterday which found Ministers in contempt of the Parliament and ordered the immediate publication of the advice.
The British government after the vote said they would now publish the advice.
The parallels between the failure of this government to table the TPP-11 and the failure of the British government to table Brexit advice are obvious. The difference between the two governments is that our government thinks contempt is a badge of honour and the British government thinks it’s a badge of shame.
The government has told us they will not bend to the will of the Senate and table free trade agreements in advance of signing them.
They do say they will continue to ignore the will of the Senate and the people of Australia and make the agreements public after they have been signed leaving no option for those affected, but to accept it.
Deals done in secret always raise concerns about corruption.
Instead of persuading the Senate to change the procedural order of continuing effect 20, the government prefers to treat the Senate as a rubber stamp.
Although the government signed up to the TPP-11 in March it took until October for the government to present the enabling legislation to the Senate.
I did not support the TPP-11enabling legislation, in the hope the government would be unable to complete all the applicable legal procedures necessary for entry into force of the Agreement.
I am worried about the TPP-11 free trade agreement, because jobs will go overseas and because land-mine provisions known as investor-state dispute settlement provisions or ISDS provisions, remain.
The damage these ISDS provisions have on us is illustrated in the Phillip Morris Case.
Phillip Morris decided to sue the Australian government after the passage of the Tobacco Plain Packaging Act in 2011.
The company could have sued the Australian government, in an Australian court, but they thought their chances were better in an international tribunal, using international law. Philip Morris looked for a suitable free trade agreement with Australia, and then restructured their business to create an overseas parent company in Hong Kong
The government says it won the Philip Morris case, but in fact the case was not heard, because the Tribunal decided it was abuse to restructure, just to sue the Australian government.
Challenges to Australia’s tobacco packaging policy continue within the World Trade Organisation.
We should never have allowed the decisions 3 person tribunals, operating under international laws, to over- ride the High Court of Australia.
One Nation rejects the view of globalists, like Malcolm Turnbull, who wants us to surrender our hard won freedom to make laws that apply to Australians and those who trade with us.
The decision to sign the TPP-11 agreement, without complying with Senate Standing Order 20, is in my view a serious matter.
My fellow Senators agree with me, because Notice of Motion 1295 standing in my name was supported by the Senate yesterday. That Motion brought Minister Birmingham here today to explain the government’s position.
I call on the government to test its ‘public interest immunity’ argument and its failure to comply with Senate procedure, before the High Court, because it is just wrong that these free trade agreements are not reviewed in the Senate.
Some might say it is a waste of money to go to the High Court, but we reportedly spent 50 million dollars on the Philip Morris case, so frankly a few thousand dollars is money well spent, if we can rid ourselves of the ISDS provisions.
The government has told the Senate the ISDS provisions represent a theoretical risk, but I know of 2 cases brought against Australia in recent years, including the most recent case involving APR Energy.
In 2016 APR Energy, advised the government of a dispute under the Australia-United States Free Trade Agreement. The company is suing the Australian government, because the assets it leased to an Australian company were re-possessed by the ANZ Bank. An international tribunal will be asked to decide if the Australian government is liable for company losses pursuant to the passage of the Personal Property Securities Act in 2009.
Does this mean that every overseas company that loses money can be compensated by the Australian taxpayer?
I warned the Parliament in 1998 about Multilateral Agreements on Investment provisions, which included the right to sue governments if legislation threatened their interests.
No one took any notice of me, and here we are with ISDS provisions in most free trade agreements, acting like land mines just waiting to blow up.
These ISDS provisions expose taxpayers to staggering losses, incurred by non-resident foreign owned companies.
Australia is particularly exposed to ISDS losses, because of the number of multinational companies, operating here. These multinationals can pick and choose from an array of free trade agreement, when they want to sue the Australian government.
These companies have revenues greater than most countries in the world and deep pockets to fund actions against governments.
The provisions that allow foreign owned multinational companies to sue the Australian government are not in the national interest.
Their existence in many agreements including TPP 11 may be a factor in the government’s unwillingness to reform weak laws that give us payment for our vast reserves of gas in Commonwealth water.
Are the benefits of free trade agreements including investor-state dispute settlement provisions worth the risk of being sued in an international tribunal?
The answer to that question depends on whether you are a winner or a loser in TPP-11.
In my view the risks in the TPP-11 outweigh the benefits. New Zealand has side letters voiding the ISDS provisions so why don’t we have the same.
The government has oversold the benefits of the TPP-11. Take for example the claim that our dairy industry will benefit by being given access to the Canadian dairy market. The claim sounds good until you find out that the 11 Pacific rim countries will collectively be given access to just 3.5% of the Canadian dairy market and that New Zealand a lower cost dairy country is making heavy in roads into the Australian market.
If the government had its way they would continue to sign free trade agreements without ever consulting Senate.
The Opposition voted with the government to pass the enabling TPP-11 legislation but now after the horse has bolted say they will negotiate changes when they form government next year.
If Labor cannot get the TPP-11 changed then the ISDS provisions will remain, jobs will go overseas and 5000 plus jobs in Australia will be taken by foreign workers.
The kind of accountability small parties bring to government is a thorn in the side of the two major parties.
Increasingly Australians are voting for small parties in the Senate. This is evidenced by the fact that nearly one in four primary votes cast for a small party in the 2016 federal election.
It is my view that the two -party system, where government is formed by one of the two major parties, no-longer serves the national interest.
I can see a time where government is formed by a coalition of smaller parties. It works well in Germany, where it has provided stability and prosperity for the largest economy in Europe.