The government has rejected claims that the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership trade negotiations could raise the costs of medicines and limit Australia's ability to make health decisions.
Australia’s involvement in the secret Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade deal could spur a rise in the costs of medicines and water down Australia's ability to regulate alcohol, tobacco and food labelling, a recent report says.
If successful, the free trade deal would include Australia, the US and 10 other countries - more than a third of the world’s economy.
The report, 'A Health Impact Assessment of the Proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement', pieced together from consultations and the leaked draft text on WikiLeaks, says the TPP could include a range of provisions that might affect Australia’s ability to deliver healthcare.
The report is based on the leaked TPP draft texts and former trade deals, which one author admitted was "not ideal".
However, today the government repeated its promise it would not agree to anything that would affect the costs of medicines or our health system.
“The government rejects the dubious conclusions drawn,” said a spokesperson on behalf of Trade Minister Andrew Robb, who was in Canada.
The TPP could be signed within two months, but nothing is certain, the spokesperson said.
"The only text that will be relevant will be the final text," the spokesperson said.
Australians will have to trust the government until the agreement is signed, since the negotiations will remain secret.
The health impact assessment (HIA) report said the TPP negotiations could include Investor-State Dispute Settlement provisions, which would allow corporations to sue governments for changes in legislation.
That could benefit Australian companies in their dealings overseas, the government has previously said.
The HIA report said the TPP could increase the costs of medicines.
“There is sufficient evidence that increases in the cost of medicines will lead to greater patient co-payments through the PBS,” the report says.
Trade Minister Andrew Robb said the government consulted with "anybody who has a genuine interest", in its consultation process.
However, several groups SBS contacted said the WikiLeaks leaked draft was more informative than the consultations.
The HIA echoed that message.
“In the absence of public documents, the HIA used leaked texts of potential provisions and formulated policy scenarios in order to conduct the assessment and predict potential impacts,” the report said.
The report advised the negotiations should be more transparent.
While the government has said the report is false, little other information is available on the TPP negotiations.