Feeds

TPPA so deep a secret not even the minister knows what’s in it

‘Yes Ministering’ a non-minister in Senate Estimates

Build a business case: developing custom apps

Australia’s bureaucrats appear to have learned the lesson from ACTA’s slow-motion train wreck in Europe, and aren’t letting the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) anywhere near something as unpredictable as a parliament.

Under questioning by The Greens’ Senator Scott Ludlam, the Senate Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Committee was told that neither foreign minister Bob Carr nor trade minister Craig Emerson have seen the negotiation text of the TPPA.

Here’s where the exchange, between Ludlam and Hamish McCormick (deputy CEO of the Australian Trade Commission) starts to sound like an episode of Yes, Minister. From the transcript posted by Ludlam (the official Hansard version doesn’t seem to be available yet):

Ludlam: “Are you aware of whether or not the foreign minister has seen the current negotiating texts for the agreement?”

McCormick : “I do not believe he has.”

Ludlam: “Is that because he is relatively new to the job? Should he have? Will he?”

McCormick: “No. The agreement is the responsibility of the minister for trade.”

And then:

Ludlam: “Has the trade minister seen it?”

McCormick: “An FTA agreement, when completed, will be approximately 1,000 pages long. As I said, it is not an agreement that is on the table for anybody to have a look at.”

As far as El Reg can tell, the Department is telling Senator Ludlam that the foreign minister hasn’t seen the text of the agreement because that’s the job of the trade minister, who hasn’t seen the negotiating text because … well, just because.

The department also told Ludlam – as we already knew and as is increasingly irritating to those citizens that care about such things – that the text of the agreement remains “confidential between the parties”, and “Nothing has a status until it has been agreed at the end of the negotiations, so anything that people talk about is purely speculation.”

So there you go: there’s no need for public debate on TPPA because there’s no agreement, and when there’s an agreement, we’ll all get to have a look at it, except by that time the negotiations will have ended. ®

Bootnote: My thanks to the reader who located the full Hansard transcript, here. ®

The Essential Guide to IT Transformation

More from The Register

next story
Just TWO climate committee MPs contradict IPCC: The two with SCIENCE degrees
'Greenhouse effect is real, but as for the rest of it ...'
Adam Afriyie MP: Smart meters are NOT so smart
Mega-costly gas 'n' 'leccy totting-up tech not worth it - Tory MP
'Blow it up': Plods pop round for chat with Commonwealth Games tweeter
You'd better not be talking about the council's housing plans
Arrr: Freetard-bothering Digital Economy Act tied up, thrown in the hold
Ministry of Fun confirms: Yes, we're busy doing nothing
ONE EMAIL costs mining company $300 MEEELION
Environmental activist walks free after hoax sent share price over a cliff
Help yourself to anyone's photos FOR FREE, suggests UK.gov
Copyright law reforms will keep m'learned friends busy
Apple smacked with privacy sueball over Location Services
Class action launched on behalf of 100 million iPhone owners
UK government officially adopts Open Document Format
Microsoft insurgency fails, earns snarky remark from UK digital services head
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
The Essential Guide to IT Transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIO's automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Build a business case: developing custom apps
Learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.