australianvoice (australianvoice) wrote,

Senator Day of Family First Discusses the TPP

One of our readers sent an email to Senator Day, the Family First Senator from South Australia. They wrote to him asking for his help to stop the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Agreement. They received a reply thanking them for their email and explaining Senator Day's position on the TPP at some length. This reply has been sent to Australian Voice. It is reprinted below without alteration. However AV has supplied a translation of his comments into plain English and added a few comments.


Sen. Day: The Australian Government has the power to enter into any international trade agreement or treaty that it so chooses. This executive power is contained within section 61 of the Australian Constitution. As Senator Day is a legislative member of the Senate, he has minimal impact on the process of the Trans Pacific Partnership and the clauses it contains.
AV trans: Really there is bugger all I can do. The Government can act on its own. The Senate of which I am a member is irrelevant.

Sen. Day: As you know, Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) clauses are intended to afford protection to foreign investors (be it an Australian company investing in, say, Japan, or a Japanese Company investing in Australia) from some government actions by providing certainty of legal process and resolution. The clauses effectively require the signatories to refrain from differentiating between foreign and local investors. ISDS clauses have negligible impact on the trade agreements Australia has already signed and is posed to sign in the future.

AV trans: ISDS clauses are intended to protect investors from government actions, and insure a level playing field for foreign and local investors. These ISDS clauses have no real impact on trade agreements Australia has signed.
AV comment: Australians are worried about the impact of ISDS clauses on the Australian people, not the impact if the ISDS on the trade agreements themselves. What is going to protect our government from investor's actions under and ISDS system?

Sen. Day: Proponents of the ISDS clauses say that the clause encourages foreign investment and equal treatment of investors – however, trade agreements taken as a whole already provide this benefit and the addition of ISDS clauses do little to add to or strengthen this benefit. Those against the addition of ISDS clauses state problems such as regulatory chill and cost-benefit analysis. Again, the actual effect on legislative actions is negligible. As to the cost argument, there are many other dispute resolution clauses that are included in trade agreements that are less costly to both parties and are therefore more commonly relied upon to resolve disputes.

AV trans: ISDS clauses don't really provide any benefit in and of themselves. Those who object to ISDS clauses because of regulatory chil don't realze that they have negligible effects on legislative actions. Those who object to ISDS clauses because they are expensive don't realize that there are cheaper ways to resolve disputes and these are often used instead.
AV comment: If they don't add any real benefit to trade agreements, why have them? What about people who object to the ISDS system because of what it costs the governments who sign the TPP? "There are currently eight cases against the Canadian government asking for a total of $6 billion in damages. All of them were brought by U.S. companies."* Why don't you discuss this situation where companies sue governments?

Sen. Day: The Senate Foreign Affairs Defence and Trade Legislation Committee resolved in August 2014 not to ban ISDS clauses. This resolution represented the view of the Coalition and Labor parties. On matters of foreign affairs and trade, Family First is not inclined to break important bipartisanship. We are also supporters of free trade for the benefit of our economy, exporters (such as farmers) and the global stability, prosperity and rise out of poverty that open borders and trade promotes. At this stage, therefore, we do not oppose the Trans Pacific Partnership nor the inclusion (or exclusion) of ISDS clauses.

AV trans: Both Labor and the LNP have resolved to allow ISDS clauses in trade agreements. Family First is going to rock the bipartisan boat on foreign affairs and trade. We think free trade is wonderful for the economy and exporters like farmers.
AV comment: Tell this to the sugar producers in Queensland. It looks like no Australian sugar will be going to the USA under this "free trade" agreement, and you don't care?

Sen. Day: Senator Day appreciates that you have written to him about a current issue that concerns you. The Senator has been elected as a Family First Senator for South Australia on a platform of “Every family, a job and a house”. This is a massive task which promotes independence and self-reliance, reducing the need for government intervention. This leads to smaller government, lower taxes and therefore more money in the pockets of families. Senator Day therefore has a limited capacity to advocate for (a) issues outside of his State or (b) policy priorities beyond that focus. Having said that, Senator Day has indicated above what he has to say about the issues that you have raised.

AV trans: Senator Day is only concerned with famlies in South Australia. He wants families to be more self-reliant so they need less government support and have lower taxes. If taxes are lower, then families will have more money to spend on themselves. In short, he can't do much about the TPP and he is not inclined to do anything about it either.
AV comment: Too bad for the sugar producers in Queensland. Familes in SA will certainly need more money to pay for the increased cost of medicines the TPP will bring.

Tags: tpp

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