Home' Australian Pharmacist : Australian Pharmacist May 2012 Contents Australian Pharmacist May 2012 I ©Pharmaceutical Society of Australia Ltd. 355
The debate over the Trans Paci c
Partnership Agreement (TPPA) and alleged
underhand deals by US negotiators just
won't go away. Nor should it be allowed to.
The Australian Fair Trade and Investment
Network (AFTINET) has been busy making
sure the Australian public know what's
really going on with these talks, with the
next full round of negotiations between
the US, Australia, New Zealand, Chile, Peru,
Brunei, Singapore, Malaysia and Vietnam
due to be held in Texas this month (May),
and in New Zealand in July.
The particular concern of Canberra
Commentary, last raised in this column in
February this year, is the persistent attempt
by US negotiators to undermine our PBS,
though our government's spaniel-like
devotion to the US is also disturbing.
The sight last November of Prime Minister
Julia Gillard so cosying up to US President
Barack Obama she was almost sitting in
his lap, and the subsequent acceptance of
US suggestions that they not only station
Unease over TPPA
By Mark Thornton
Mark Thornton is a Canberra-based
journalist and was a member of
the Federal Parliamentary Press Gallery
for many years.
Any opinions expressed are
not necessarily those of PSA,
its Board or staff.
troops on the Australian mainland -- the
rst of 2,500 arrived last month -- while
also using our Indian Ocean Cocos islands
as a base from which to launch o ensive
'drone' sorties against unnamed enemies,
has disturbed many Australians.
While Ms Gillard reiterated the folksy
'all the way with USA' banter, the New
York Times reported it straight -- stating
that with the new Darwin base the
US was 'stationing marines in China's
Je rey Bleich, the American Ambassador
to Australia, dismissed international media
consensus that the increased military
presence in the region was aimed primarily
at containing China. He accused critics of
using 'sexy, fun narrative' in their criticism.
Meanwhile, US corporations are also
attempting to stake their claims on our
soil. Investigations by AFTINET suggest
US TPPA negotiators are pressuring
representatives from the other countries to
complete negotiations as soon as possible,
and in secrecy, before the US presidential
elections are held in November.
'There have been several secret
"inter-sessional" negotiations at which
there is no stakeholder consultation,'
reports AFTINET spokeswoman,
Dr Patricia Ranald.
So far, she says, critics of the TPPA with
their presentations exposing US policy
on intellectual property and medicines
have kept Australian interests front and
centre with the Australian Government.
They appear to have the ear of MPs of
di erent persuasions.
Labor MP, Stephen Jones, presented an
AFTINET-sponsored petition containing
nearly 3,300 signatures to the House of
Representatives on 1 March (coincidentally
the rst day of TPPA Round 11 negotiations
in Melbourne) saying: 'The petitioners are
particularly concerned about possibility
that this trans-Paci c partnership could
undermine Australian policies with regard
to our PBS, our IP rights, our labour rights
and our environmental protections.'
And just in case anyone missed the
signi cance of his remarks about
pharmacy, he added that while he
is a strong supporter of open trade
arrangements, '...they should not, at any
cost, be undermining our important PBS.'
In the Upper House, now Leader of the
Greens, Senator Christine Milne, is keeping
up the pressure.
During Question Time on 13 March Sen.
Milne said the US was using the TPPA so its
'big tobacco, big oil, big agribusiness and
big pharmaceuticals can come back for
what they didn't get under the US Australia
free trade agreement.
'Now that the Gillard government agrees
with the Greens that these provisions are
absolutely unacceptable, the question has
to be asked -- if the talks have reached an
impasse on this central issue, is the TPPA
now dead in the water?'
She added: 'If Australia sticks to its
position to protect the PBS, local content
rules, copyright and patent laws, what
is (the government) still talking to the
It's a good question, and one Senator
Conroy could only answer with a di dent
smile saying: 'I am not in a position to
opine as to whether the agreement will
With the TPPA now under a parliamentary
spotlight, it appears that US hopes for a
successful conclusion to negotiations by
July might not be realised. It raises the
question: 'What will they do next?'
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