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Citizens Electoral Council of Australia

Media Release  Thursday, 30 October 2014

Craig Isherwood‚ National Secretary
PO Box 376‚ COBURG‚ VIC 3058
Phone: 1800 636 432
Email: cec@cecaust.com.au
Website: http://www.cecaust.com.au

An independent Australia would join the Asian infrastructure bank, not the TPP free trade death pact

If the Australian government were truly acting in Australia’s independent national interest it would leap at China’s invitation to join the 20 other Asian nations that are founding members of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB).

The AIIB is intended to direct $50-$100 billion per year into desperately-needed new infrastructure in the Asia-Pacific region.

However, macho Tony “shirtfront” Abbott has emphatically demonstrated his government is not independent, because it has buckled under blatant pressure from Barack Obama and declined to join the AIIB. Of the few Asian nations that didn’t join, aside from Indonesia (where new president Joko Widodo reportedly didn’t have time to consider the proposal before the 24 October deadline to sign a memorandum of understanding), the trio of South Korea, Japan and Australia clearly bowed to U.S. pressure—all having a dependent relationship to the U.S. for “security”—despite significant support inside each country for the idea. During their recent meeting in Indonesia U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry directly heavied Tony Abbott to not join, and Obama reportedly also phoned Abbott with the same directive.

Instead, Abbott is pushing ahead with locking Australia into the Obama-dictated free trade death pact called the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), which conspicuously excludes China, and which elevates the demands of multinational corporations above national governments and national laws.

As the CEC has warned for three years, Obama, on behalf of the City of London and Wall Street interests of the British Crown/financial oligarchy, is aggressively pushing a mad imperial “containment” strategy in Asia, the insane aim of which is war with China. Facing the near-term prospect of a complete financial meltdown, the Anglo-Americans are desperate to preserve their crumbling global hegemony, and crush any and all obstacles to a massive expansion of corporate looting that London and Wall Street need to stay afloat.

Australians should contrast China’s AIIB with the U.S.-dictated TPP and decide for themselves what’s in Australia’s national interest.

Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank

China initiated the AIIB to facilitate infrastructure development across all of Asia—the approach which has successfully made China the biggest economy in the world—in a way that can’t be suppressed by the existing institutions that are controlled from London and Wall Street—the IMF, World Bank and Asian Development Bank (ADB). For instance, the ADB, run by U.S.-subservient Japan, estimates that ASIA needs $750 billion in infrastructure investment per year for the next decade, but it only provides a paltry $20 billion per year, and that under loan shark conditionalities.

The AIIB will commence with initial capital of $50 billion, but is intended to gear up to be able to direct $50-$100 billion per year into nation-building infrastructure. China is capable of doing this on its own, but it wishes the AIIB to be a multilateral partnership, open to any members, including the U.S.

Significantly, one focus of the AIIB will be projects such as port upgrades that will expedite and improve the ease of physical trade between countries, and which will deliver far greater actual trade benefits than any possible free trade deals, so that trade can improve without nations losing important protections.

Besides China, 20 Asian nations have joined as founding members: India, Pakistan, Malaysia, Vietnam, Thailand, Singapore, Philippines, Myanmar, Laos, Cambodia, Brunei, Mongolia, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bangladesh, Oman, Kuwait, and Qatar; thus its two biggest members are Australia’s largest trading partners.

The AIIB will intermediate between investors and projects, thus making infrastructure financing very straightforward. This will be a welcome alternative to the Australian government’s present obsession with funding infrastructure through Public Private Partnerships (PPPs), where the productivity of the infrastructure is measured in terms of the revenue stream it generates for the private investors—Macquarie Bank’s expensive Sydney toll roads being the prime example—rather than its boost to overall economic activity.

Trans-Pacific Partnership

The more the public in Australia, the U.S., and the other nations of the Asia-Pacific learn about the TPP, the more it stinks. It is effectively a bill of rights for multinationals corporations that elevates them above national laws.

Australian consumer watchdog Choice is running a campaign against the excessive secrecy surrounding the negotiations, by which groups such as Choice and most news media are barred from any information, but a hundred or so corporate lobbyists from the U.S. designated as “cleared advisers” have full copies of the agreements as drafted so far.

What has leaked out so far reveals that the TPP will empower corporations to bring lawsuits against national governments for any laws that they claim impact their profits. Australia’s plain packaging for cigarettes is cited as an example, but the TPP is also targeted at government procurement, so that governments can be forced to source their supplies from multinational corporations rather than from domestic industries. The TPP is also targeted at laws relating to product labelling, copyright, and patents, so that corporations can extort extra profits from public interest areas such as the production of medicines.

12 countries around the Pacific are presently negotiating the TPP in secret. Australia’s negotiator, Trade Minister Andrew Robb, has been in the vanguard of the free trade annihilation of Australia’s industries for 30 years, since his days in the NFF (National Farmers Federation, aka No Family Farms). China, the biggest economy bordering the Pacific, is not involved, because, in contrast to its open invitation to the U.S. to join the AIIB, Obama has put conditions on China’s participation which underscore that the TPP is part of Obama’s containment strategy.

Click here to read or listen to CEC Executive Member Robert Barwick’s 19 October presentation to the 30th Anniversary conference of the Schiller Institute in Germany, on the strategic choice confronting Australia epitomised by the AIIB vs. TPP options, entitled “Which way Australia: To hell with London and Wall Street, or to the heavens with the BRICS?”

For a free copy of the CEC’s just-released pamphlet, “Do You Want to Defeat Terrorism? Establish a New, Just World Economic Order!”, which outlines the development intention of China and its fellow BRICS nations, click here.

SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT: The ALP, Liberals and Greens are ganging up to make it harder for other parties to contest elections, by tripling the membership requirement. If you support the CEC’s ideas, it is time to act by joining as an Associate Member for one year, so the CEC can remain registered. Click here to join the CEC as a member.

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