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Transcript of interview with Tracy Bowden: 31 July 2015: The Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP), the Speaker's resignation



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ABC - 7.30 Program - interview with Tracy Bowden

Subjects: the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP), the Speaker’s resignation.

Transcript, E&OE

31 July 2015

Tracy Bowden:

Andrew Robb, is this deal going to be done?

Andrew Robb:

I'm 80 per cent

confident. I haven't certainly reached a point where I think it will happen,

but we're

literally hours away or it might be another day, who knows, we might

have to add some time, but I do feel there is

a momentum around the place.

There is still - with other countries - still some deal-stoppers which don't

affect

Australia, but may affect their decision about signing up to this

agreement. But on balance, I do feel that we are

sort of 80-85 per cent

prospect, but that still leaves 15 per cent probability that this won't happen.

Tracy Bowden:

Can you describe the

atmosphere there? Is it tense?

Andrew Robb:

It is very intense, I

can tell you. But we are making progress. They are baby steps, unfortunately,

and taking quite a while, but I do feel we are getting our message across on a

couple of key issues, and the ones

that are show-stoppers for us, the Investor

State Dispute Settlement mechanism, the sugar issue and of course

the biologics;

those three, we are making good progress on all of them, but we haven't got to

where we need to be

yet.

Tracy Bowden:

There are concerns

that you're going to trade-off patent extensions for US drug companies to get

a

better deal for Australian sugar growers is that true?

Andrew Robb:

No, it's not a matter

of trading off. On all of these things, we do have to find a balance, and there

are compromises but there are some issues where we can't justify movement, or

we need an outcome like sugar

which is significant. Now, sugar, I won't be

signing an agreement unless I get what I think is a reasonable

outcome. We

might not get all that we want, but I want a reasonable outcome.

Tracy Bowden:

This process has been

shrouded in secrecy. When will we find out the details of this deal?

Andrew Robb:

Well, those who are opposed to any trade deals

principally, have been making that claim now for

a long time. The fact of the

matter is it's nonsense; I would not be getting the best deal, I would not be

putting us

in the best position to extract what we need from this negotiation

if we put it out all on the table, but we have

consulted in a very

comprehensive way and it is absolute nonsense, that all these scare-mongers

have been

running, that it's private and it's secret. It is the same process

that has been followed by every trade negotiation in

our history for that

matter, including under the Labor Party as it is under the Coalition.

Tracy Bowden:

It seems that the US

is leading these negotiations. Does Australia really have any clout?

Andrew Robb:

Just because America is

involved doesn't mean we all tug the forelock to the Americans. This is a

deal

where we've got to protect our own interests, but if we can collectively make

concessions where we reduce

the protection and the barriers to trade, not just

in everyday goods, but in intellectual property and 21st Century

issues of

e-commerce and other things, all of these are going to make trade far more

seamless, far less costly

and across those 12 countries, we are going to

turbo-charge growth and job opportunities in every country.

Tracy Bowden:

On the ISDS what would

you be looking for to be comfortable with that being passed?

Andrew Robb:

We are looking for

safeguards that allow public policy in health and environment not to be subject

to litigation by companies in the future.

Tracy Bowden:

Critics point to the

Philip Morris plain packaging case which it has been reported the Government

has spent $50 million so far defending?

Andrew Robb:

Well, that's being run

under an ISDS or an Investor State Dispute Settlement scheme that was

struck

20, 25 years ago. The modern-day ISDS arrangements that Australia has really

championed and been the

forerunner of, that we've got in Korea, in China, the

Philip Morris case could not occur under those ISDS systems.

Tracy Bowden:

And finally Minister,

I know you're on the other side of the world, but has anyone been calling,

canvassing your opinion on Bronwyn Bishop?

Andrew Robb:

No.

Tracy Bowden:

If anyone did call, she

has apologised, should she stay on as Speaker?

Andrew Robb:

Look, in my view she

should. There is a finance committee review or inquiry into the

circumstances

which is quite appropriate, and we should wait for that, and I do feel that

Bronwyn has apologised

and we should see her in the seat next week.

Tracy Bowden:

Andrew Robb, thanks

for speaking to 7.30.

Andrew Robb

: It is my great

pleasure, thank you.

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