The TPPA is a trade treaty being negotiated by the US and 10 other countries. Negotiations have been going on in secret since March 2010. The countries involved are the US, Canada, Mexico, Chile, Peru, Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore, Australia, Brunei and New Zealand, with Mexico and Canada being recent entrants.
Last week, a motion by the Greens in the Australian Senate, calling for public scrutiny of the draft text of the TPPA was voted down by both Labor and the Liberals. Both parties have their differences but when it comes to sucking up to the US, they compete to see which has the longer tongue.
The Greens Senators were not arguing for anything explosive - they were merely asking for the TPPA negotiations to be made publicly available and for any trade agreement that put Australian civil liberties and welfare at risk to be rejected.
There are a number of reasons why the US is pushing for this unequal treaty. First, big businesses ensure that politicians in the US do their bidding by keeping the donation tap open. The degree to which it is opened depends on what the politicians can push through to benefit said businesses. Just the basic you-scratch-my-back-and-I'll-scratch-yours principle in action.
Multinationals want to increase their take in foreign countries and they want to do it by imposing unfair terms through treaties like the TPPA. The smaller countries that are involved in the negotiations have no choice - the US has a charming way of getting other countries to co-operate. Like for example, the way former deputy secretary of state Richard Armitage got Pakistan to join the US in the so-called war on terror, by threatening to bomb the country back to the Stone Age if it did not co-operate.
It doesn't matter if one is a so-called ally of the US or not. The interests of big business are paramount - that's where politicians get the money to keep paying for TV commercials so that they can influence the American public and win repeated terms to office. It's a cozy set-up, and if the public get screwed in the bargain, nobody really gives a stuff.
Why should the Australian public not be able to know what is being negotiated away? After all, the main targets of the US are the copyright industry and the pharmaceutical sector. Changes in these industries affect every single Australian consumer.
Strangely, only the Greens, often derided as mavericks, seem to be bothered about the average punter.