The Null Device
Well, Australians will soon be driving oversized SUVs on the right-hand side of the road, at least metaphorically speaking; The Howard government signs free-trade agreement with US
. The issues of local TV content and the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme have been ironed out, at least to the satisfaction of our wise leaders, though Australia's sugar industry has been sacrificed. Oh, and we're also committed to extending our copyright terms, adopting draconian paracopyright/scarcity-preservation laws and remodelling our patent/trademark law on the US model
. (I wonder if we'll get US fair use provisions in the deal, or whether having an iPod full of ripped MP3s will remain a crime in Australia.) Though at least the Yanks don't get to force their genetically-modified foods into our markets
, as some lefties were alleging they would; it looks like most of the direst predictions
have been headed off, if you believe the Government's press release; then again, the full text of the agreement is secret, so maybe not
The Greens said tariff abolition on manufactured goods would cost thousands of Australian jobs while many farmers would be saddled with US tariffs for a generation or more. Quarantine standards would be downgraded, Americans would be able to circumvent investment rules and American drug companies would get the opportunity to override the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme that provides cheap drugs to Australians, the Greens said.
Howard has affected a retroactive tough-negotiator stance, saying that he was on the verge of telling the Americans where to stick their FTA. Meanwhile, Latham has said that Labor may block the FTA in the Senate. Which probably won't happen, leaving the Greens as the voice in the wilderness yet again.
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