Catholic Religious Australia is among nearly 60 community organisations calling for an independent assessment of the Trans-Pacific Partnership before Parliament is asked to vote on ratifying the agreement, reports Fairfax Media.
A large alliance of groups – from World Vision and the Public Health Association, to Greenpeace, the ACTU, Catholic Religious Australia and the Australian Fair Trade and Investment Network – have signed a letter warning the agreement poses “grave risks to the public interest” without being independently assessed.
They want an organisation like the Productivity Commission to evaluate its economic costs and benefits before it is ratified by Parliament.
“We the undersigned 59 community organisations representing millions of Australians are gravely concerned about the Trans-Pacific Partnership text agreed by the US, Australia and 10 other Pacific Rim countries,” the letter says.
“We believe Parliament should not vote on the implementing legislation until the following independent assessments of the text have been conducted: an independent assessment of [its] economic costs and benefits, as offered by the Productivity Commission, including costs and risks to government of Investor State Dispute Settlement [provisions] and extension of medicine and copyright monopolies; and independent health, environment, human rights and labour rights assessments.
“In the absence of such independent assessments, we consider that the TPP poses grave risks to the public interest and ask you to oppose the implementing legislation,” the letter says.
The TPP is the biggest global trade deal in 20 years, involving 12 countries in the Pacific region, which collectively represent over 40 per cent of world GDP.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has called the deal “a gigantic foundation stone” for the economy that will deliver jobs and growth, while Trade Minister Andrew Robb says the deal will deliver “substantial benefits for Australia” in the rapidly growing Asia-Pacific region.
The agreement will be formally signed this Thursday in New Zealand, and it is likely to be tabled in Australia’s Parliament this month.