NEWS from the
26 June, 1999
Perth citizens demand fuller public
and new approach to DFAT multilateral treaty process
The Federal Government's proposal to support a new round of global investment negotiations at the World Trade Organisation (WTO) was intensively discussed at a daylong public meeting held at Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital, Perth, at the weekend.
Debate was led by Patricia Ranald (Public Sector Research Centre, University of New South Wales) and the WA Trades and Labor Council leader, Tony Cooke.
The speakers reviewed the purpose of the failed Multilateral Agreement on Investment (MAI) which sought to dilute governmental power to regulate foreign investment and capital flows. The MAI was scrapped last year in a fury of worldwide public protest, but Deputy Premier Tim Fischer has now instructed the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade DFAT) to pursue similar new negotiations through the WTO November ministerial meeting in Seattle.
After six hours of consideration, the packed meeting called on the Australian Government to shun MAI-type negotiations but rather "to support the development of an alternative and binding agreement on investments which democratically regulates international investments and promotes ecologically and socially sustainable global development".
Noting that DFAT had declined to participate in the public meeting, the resolution also called for full, open public participation in this process.
Patricia Ranald informed the meeting that the United Nations Commission on Human Rights (UNCHR) had already endorsed an alternative proposal with the object of enforcing prescribed responsibilities and placing the profit motive into a proper context of worldwide human needs.
The publication of a range of new Australian books on the subject was announced, and the audience resolved to support an informative regular newsletter to be commenced in July.
Patricia Ranald is co-author, with Dr James Goodman, of a new book Corporate power versus public interests: Opposing the Multilateral Agreement on Investment (MAI). This is due to be published in July, 1999, price $24.95.
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