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Thursday, 1 March 2012
Page: 2510

Mr STEPHEN JONES (Throsby) (13:52): I rise to table a petition.

The petition read as follows—

To the Honourable The Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives

This petition of concerned citizens draws to the attention of the House:

The Australian government is negotiating a Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade agreement (TPPA) with the US, New Zealand, Chile, Peru, Brunei, Singapore, Malaysia and Vietnam. But the agenda is being set by giant US corporations. They see many Australian health, social, cultural and environmental policies are barriers to trade which should be removed. They want to use the negotiations to undermine the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme and charge higher prices for medicines, to give special rights for corporations to sue governments, to remove labelling of genetically modified food, to undermine local jobs and fair employment conditions for government contracts, and to weaken policies for Australian content in film, television and digital media. They also oppose including enforceable labour rights and environmental protections in the agreement.

We therefore ask the House not to support any agreement which undermines any of the above listed policies, to support the inclusion of enforceable labour rights and environmental protections in the agreement, and to support publication of the text of the agreement for public and parliamentary debate before it is ratified.

from 3,272 citizens

Petition received.

Mr STEPHEN JONES: I present the petition on behalf of some 3,270 citizens of Australia who are concerned about some aspects of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement on free trade that is being negotiated with the United States, New Zealand, Chile, Peru, Brunei, Singapore, Malaysia and Vietnam. This petition is being considered by the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Petitions and has been certified as being in accordance with the standing orders. The petitioners are particularly concerned about the possibility that this trans-Pacific partnership could undermine Australian policies with regard to our Pharmaceutical Benefit Scheme, our intellectual property rights, our labour rights and our environmental protections.

I am a strong believer in the importance to our national prosperity of open trade arrangements. However, these multilateral trade agreements should be used and seen as an opportunity to enhance our intellectual property standards internationally, our labour relations and labour laws, and our laws in relation to environmental protection. They should not, at any cost, be undermining our important Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme. I commend the petition to the House.