Minister for Trade and Investment Andrew Robb strongly rejects claims that Australia would sign up to a trade agreement that would drive up the costs of medicines and undermine public health.

Mr Robb described a story carried by Fairfax newspapers today – which is dubiously based on supposed “leaked texts of draft chapters” of Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP) negotiations – as “another beat up”. 

“As I have made clear repeatedly, the government will not support outcomes that would increase the prices of medicines for Australians or adversely affect our health system more generally; end of story,” he said. “Nor would we accept outcomes that undermine our ability to regulate or legislate in the public interest in areas such as health,” Mr Robb said.

“The TPP has transformational promise with the potential to help drive growth, jobs and higher living standards. The key focus of our involvement is to materially advance Australia’s interests in a negotiation involving 12 countries which represent 40 per cent of global GDP.”

Mr Robb said anybody who has a genuine interest in understanding the true state of negotiations from Australia’s perspective are encouraged to participate in our long-running public consultation process.

Since 2011, DFAT has conducted more than 1,000 briefings with interested stakeholders, including groups representing health, pharmaceuticals, consumers and unions.

“The text will not be kept secret. Once it is agreed between participants, it will be made public and also subjected to parliamentary scrutiny prior to any final ratification,” he said.

Mr Robb highlighted the hypocrisy of Penny Wong in questioning the conduct of TPP negotiations and for aiding and abetting a scare campaign being waged by groups opposed to freer trade.

“It was the previous Labor government that signed up to the terms and conditions of the TPP negotiations back in 2008. At no stage during their time in office for example did Labor publicly release negotiating text.

“To do so would both undermine confidence in Australia as a negotiating partner and also the negotiations, themselves. The only document that will accurately reflect the negotiations will be the final document,” Mr Robb said.

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