Australia continues to be part of the so called ‘Coalition of the Willing’, aiming to circumvent international fora in order to cement a more rigid and expansive enforcement regime like the one imposed in the AUSFTA, across the globe.
Treaty making and accession is largely the job of government, there is no constitutional requirement for parliamentary oversight, although as the document explains, the 1996 reforms went a little way to providing at least some parliamentary scrutiny. This really doesn’t help, because at the most formative stages, where it is imperative that the concerns of the public are included, diplomatic secrecy is still very much the default. Whilst insisting that openness, transparency, inclusiveness are paramount, these are generally empty platitudes. There are perhaps sensitive moments where some confidentiality is necessary for diplomats to be candid (and even this is debatable in the dawning of the transparent society) the negotiation and development of a copyright treaty, is not one of those moments. ACTA may begin to raise awareness of the relationship between the people and their government more broadly, and how the two interact and the levels of secrecy and information withheld from them.
At the very least, ACTA is where we must draw the line and reject the circumvention of democracy. It was only due to successive leaks and pressure brought to bear on governments and diplomats by NGOs, academics and political parties that ACTA became a shadow of its monstrous first drafts.
DFAT, however, continues to say “ACTA doesn’t mean any change for Australia”, but it does. It cements bad laws that DFAT allowed the US to impose on Australia via the AUSFTA, and when a belligerent industry is desperately clinging to it, something must be up.
In Australia, ACTA is currently under review by the Joint Senate Committee. It has been signed, but binding action has not been taken. Although the date for submissions have passed, you may still be able sneak a submission if the Committee Secretariat allow it, but otherwise, target the members of the Committee. All Australian citizens that are willing to act can let them know. Write to them. Tweet them. Call their office. Engage with them. Let them know, that you as an Australian citizen, do not stand for policy laundering and the circumvention of democracy by corporate interests. Any opposition we generate, fuels the fight in the EU. Reclaim democracy.