DFAT keeps Australians in dark on TPP stance

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DFAT keeps Australians in dark on TPP stance

Fresh set of redacted documents released.

The veil of secrecy surrounding intellectual property provisions of the Trans Pacific Partnership agreement remains intact, after the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade released a heavily redacted series of documents on Australia's negotiating stance overnight.

The documents were released in response to a freedom of information request filed by Pirate Party Australia secretary Brendan Molloy in November last year.

Molloy rescoped the request on departmental advice in February this year in a bid to net possible parliamentary questions (PPQs), and briefing documents that might shed light on the Australian Government's "position on the current negotiating text" of the TPP.

In response, the department released 13 documents, though most were characterised as "partial ... with irrelevant material deleted".

Between the redacted sections, the documents provide a brief update on the intellectual property negotiations via a Q&A meant for stakeholders.

The negotiations are described as "slow", and although the Government was hopeful of progress, it anticipated "that there will be several areas of text that will be difficult to reconcile", though it provided no details on what they were.

"It is important to remember that the chapter has not been agreed," DFAT wrote.

"It is not a given that any particular piece of text currently on the table will be included in the final agreement".

The documents repeatedly advise officials not to comment on the text of any leaked drafts of the agreement.

Molloy tweeted his disappointment at the lack of detail in the document release, and sought donations to help fund the FOI exercise.

"The systematic opacity of our treaty negotiators should no longer be tolerated," he said.

Pirate Party Australia has previously lamented the "transparency theatre" of Australian politics as it prepares to contest its first federal election later this year.

iTnews reported earlier this month that the TPP may not be concluded in October this year as hoped, as parties to the negotiation continued to wrestle over the treaty's complexity behind closed doors.

The Greens have previously attempted to move a Senate motion to have the draft text of the agreement disclosed, only to be voted down by both Labor and the Coalition.

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