The Independent Member for Denison, Andrew Wilkie, has urged Australia’s political leaders to not sign Australia up to the Trans-Pacific Partnership amid growing community concern the agreement will be disastrous for the country.

Mr Wilkie has written to the Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Minister and Opposition Leader on behalf of the overwhelming majority of constituents who have contacted his office alarmed about the agreement – which Australia could sign in weeks – and the secrecy of its negotiations.

“There’s serious concern in my electorate about the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP),’’ Mr Wilkie said.

“Leaked documents have shown the agreement would result in higher costs for medicine and watered-down environmental standards.

“But perhaps the most alarming of all are the proposed Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) provisions, which would give foreign commercial interests undue power over Australian governments.’’

Mr Wilkie said ISDS provisions would open up Australia, and Tasmania in particular, to damaging lawsuits from foreign companies.

“Foreign companies would be free to sue Australian governments if they take any action which damages the company’s business, for example the current Philip Morris case against plain packaging legislation,’’ he said.

“Tasmania is particularly vulnerable due to its high quarantine standards. Strict rules that prevent foreign companies from entering the market, for example fish and plant importers, can be interpreted as discriminatory and a breach of our trade obligations. Tasmania’s GMO-free status is another important example of something that could be challenged by foreign companies exploiting the ISDS provisions.

“I urge the Government to listen to the widespread community concern and not sign up to an agreement that would be so disastrous for Australia. At very least new trade agreements need to include exemptions for important areas such as health, food safety and environmental legislation. And I call on the Tasmanian Government to do what it can to pressure the Abbott Government to that end.’’

PETER HENNING … more than a year ago on Tasmanian Times: Tell me a story … about Free Trade

TIM THORNE … more than three years ago on Tasmanian Times: Trans-Pacific Partnership: The dangers …