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Protesters rally against the Trans-Pacific Partnership in Martin Place

Greens Senator Lee Rhiannon addresses the rally against the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), in Martin Place. Photo: Quentin Jones

More than one hundred protesters gathered in Martin Place on Sunday to rally in opposition against the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

The rally was organised by GetUp! and the Australian Fair Trade and Investment Network and called on Trade Minister Andrew Robb to scrap the United States-led deal, which will "set the rules" for business in the region.

Greens Senator Lee Rhiannon attended the rally near the US consulate, calling for the deal to be "scrapped entirely."

"It’s not about negotiating, it’s not about fixing it up, it’s about scrapping it entirely. You’ve heard three great speakers today that have set out how dangerous this agreement would be on so many fronts, literally to the standards and the quality of life in this country. From health to labour standards, to environment and action on climate change."

The TPP is a free trade deal being negotiated by countries on the Pacific rim: the US, Australia, Singapore, New Zealand, Chile, Brunei, Canada, Malaysia, Mexico, Peru, Vietnam and Japan. Together they represent around 40 per cent of global GDP.

Talks have been ongoing for more than five years on the largely-secret deal, which is set to deliver more money and power to US pharmaceutical companies, to criminalise the use of technology in ways that presently don’t attract jail time and to set up outside tribunals to reconsider decisions already made by Australian courts.

Also in attendance was federal Labor MP Kelvin Thomson and representatives from the NSW Nurses and Midwives’ Association, expressing their concern that the TPP could delay access to cheaper versions of biologic medicines and create price rises at the chemist.

Lesley Gruit is on the working committee of the Australian Fair Trade Investment Network and said all people with an interest in legislation should be very concerned about the TPP.

"I’m particularly offended by the fact that there is the ability for corporate entities to sue government over areas that we would consider to be areas of national interest. For example Phillip Morris, using a fairly obscure trade agreement from its base in Hong Kong, suing us because Nicola Roxon’s administration quite rightly brought in plain packaging in the interests of public health."

 source: Sydney Morning Herald