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Issue #1698      August 19, 2015

Opposition to the TPP grows

On August 3, 2015, a public forum on the Trans Pacific Partnership was organised by Perth Indymedia Radio RTR 92.1 FM at the Defectors Bar in Mt Lawley near Perth. The speakers included Greens Senator Scott Ludlam, ALP Member for Fremantle, Melissa Parke, anti-GMO campaigner Janet Grogan and Dumbartung Aboriginal Gallery CEO Robert Eggington and Selina Eggington.

Protest in opposition to TPP
Taking power away from the people.

Robert Eggington gave a searing insight into the history of dispossession of his people and the scars it has left and continues to leave on his Nyoongah people.

These scars manifest themselves in the highest rate of youth suicide in the world and the highest rate of incarceration on the planet – higher than amongst black South Africans and African Americans, the high rates of heart disease and diabetes and the “brutal savage racism that makes the Adam Goodes affair seem like nursery rhymes.”

Selina Eggington spoke of the stories passed to her from her grandmother. She spoke of when the white man first made their way up the Swan River or Derbyl Yerrigan in their barges to occupy the land of which they were the custodians. This caused them to hide at first in Kings Park or Katagarup and then to Brookton to the south east and later to Kellerberin and Tammin. There was resistance by the Aboriginal people in all parts of Australia including WA.

Today this discourse of the dispossession of the Aboriginal people is a metaphor for the way our modern Australian society is under threat as capital attempts to impose an economic system which will erode our democracy, freedom and vitality through so called Free Trade Agreements in the like of the Trans Pacific Partnership and the China and Korean Free Trade Agreements.

Senator Scott Ludlam said that the forum was timely as, although it is now the fourth time that the Australian government has threatened to have the final meeting to ratify the TPP Agreement – it has not yet happened. This now gives us the opportunity to become more informed and demand action from the federal government to release the terms of the agreement, which are secret.

Ludlam emphasised that if the Australian people give up on this we surrender our sovereignty.

Melissa Parke continued by saying there was no net benefit to Australia from the proposed TPP and there are no net benefits from any of the so called Free Trade Agreements. The benefits accumulated to big pharma, big tobacco, big food, big miners and big energy. Even the Australian Productivity Commission – not known for being a hot bed of lefty activism – said of the TPP that, “It was not balanced and reciprocal”.

The European Union has been forced to bow under intense public opposition to release the draft of the TTIP – Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership between the European Union and the United States. All the countries which make up the TTIP should have the same opportunity to view the draft before the people vote on it.

Parke concluded by saying that these agreements are about taking power away from the people and giving it to the corporations.

Janet Grogan, GM-Free Campaigner, said that the Agricultural Chapter of the TPP threatens to affect our food safety, food sovereignty and food security as corporations would be able to dictate to governments what laws they couldn’t and shouldn’t pass that might be a brake on profits, such as laws that protect organic standards, seed collection and food labelling.

The people of Colombia took to the streets two years ago when their government threatened to make it illegal to save, share and grow your own seeds.

People in the US have also started to mobilise and similar legislation proposed in the US has been called the DARK Act – Deny Americans the Right to Know – and rallies have been held in the US to oppose this undemocratic proposal.

The corporations are trying to bring in a system of production and exchange which sits on top of and outside governments of states and the laws made by popularly elected legislatures and more and more people are becoming aware and resentful of this trend.

Various speakers and activists in attendance advised the forum of initiatives and proposals to resist and oppose the TPP and other undemocratic and unbalanced trade deals. There is much information online such as AFTINET (Australian Fair Trade and Investment Network). Some unions such as the CFMEU are organising an action in Perth on the August 25.

Next article – The fight is on for Galilee Basin

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