Stop  the  M.  A.  I.
Public Protest Meetings   & Reports below
Multilateral Agreement on Investment -- opposition by people interested in Social Justice
Stop the MAI Public Protest Meetings, Western Australia. REPORTS for MASS MEDIA, and future action plans. Governments of rich nations have negotiated in secret for years to for a proposed Multilateral Agreement on Investment (MAI) to give unprecedented unbalanced power to huge companies/corporations. Stop MAI (WA) Coalition.
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ACTION INFORMATION
MEETING DATES of the Stop MAI Coalition (Western Australia) are on a Tuesday then a Thursday a fortnight later
1998 September 24 Thursday 6pm Planning Meeting.
Planning Meetings will now alternate between Tuesdays and Thursdays every second week

1998 October 14, Wednesday: PARIS, Oct 14 (Reuters) - France will not participate in the next round of talks on the Multilateral Agreement on Investment (MAI) within the OECD, Prime Minister Lionel Jospin said on Wednesday. ... Copyright 1998 Reuters Limited.

1998 October 17, Saturday, 10am-2pm: Stop-MAI stall, Corner Murray St and Forrest Pl, Perth city. 1998 October 17, Saturday: World Protest Against Poverty Day.

1998 October 29, Thursday, 5.30pm for 6pm, Lower Hall, 10 Broome St, South Perth, Planning Meeting: more delegates and individuals urgently required because other pro-monopolist treaties, agreements, and protocols are going through the Federal Cabinet without public participation and/or Parliamentary debate.

1998 November 10, Tuesday: Federal Parliament with newly-elected House of Representatives Members to open.

For future meetings, contact Brian Jenkins brian@nettrek.com.au (08) 9246 3882, or Dion Giles dgiles@chem.murdoch.edu.au (08) W. 9360 221, H. 9335 7646

UNITED STATES ALL-DAY CALL DAY OCTOBER 7 1998: United States people are asked to telephone the U.S. negotiators on October 7, requesing them withdraw from the negotiations. Ring -- Madeline Albright (State Department) 202-736-4247; Charlene Barshefsky (United States Trade Representative) 202-395-6890; John Podesta (White House) 202-456-1414. See more about USA and Australian nationwide plans near the foot of mainews.htm and see how Australia's federal constitution could be used by the people and the States through the High Court at: hcmai.htm , hcmaiparl.htm

BEAR showing sharp teeth and claws, improvements to bear (C) by Brian JENKINS, STOP-MAI Campaign 

Coalition (Western Australia), orig 315x251pixels, 3kb
Stop
      the
M.A.I.
Leading speakers:

Phil Sparrow
Steve Robson
Keith Peckham

with full floor discussion

The Multilateral Agreement on Investment (MAI)
would bind Australia to giving much more freedom and
power to multinational corporations.   If the Australian
Government adopts the MAI Treaty, it will give
multinationals the right to sue Australia for compensation
when any action of Federal, State or Local Government
reduces their profits or favours Australian interests.

Public Protest Meeting

TUESDAY, 8 September 1998, 7.30 pm

Ocean Clipper Inn, 20 / 230 Patterson St., ROCKINGHAM

SUNDAY TIMES
In 1996, almost one hundred multinationals operating in Australia paid no tax and each of those companies earned more than $300 million dollars in the same year.
-- LIAM BARTLETT, April 19, 1998
WEST AUSTRALIAN
George Orwell's Big Brother had nothing like the power the MAI will give to the multinationals.   . . . it will cede to foreign investors some of our most fundamental democratic rights.
-- MARK THORNTON, May 23, 1998

Learn more and have your say on this threat to democracy
before the Government rubber-stamps the MAI !

The StopMAI Campaign urgently needs your donation. Please send to PO Box 608, Nedlands, WA, 6909, Australia.
Phones (08) 9246 3882, 9335 7646, 9335 5939. Email brian@nettrek.com.au Australian Website http://www.avid.net.au/stopmai/

Speakers on 8 September 1998: Mr Phil Sparrow of Community Aid Abroad; Mr Steve Robson of Murdoch University institute for science and technology policy; Mr Tony Cooke, secretary, WA Trades and Labour Council (TLC). Apologies: Keith Peckham, president, Amalgamated Metal Workers' Union; Sister Veronica Brady
Stop MAI Coalition (Western Australia), a public-interest coalition, holds planning meetings at 6pm (with coffee from 5.30) at the Lower Hall, 10 Broome Street, South Perth (enter via Douglas Avenue). Interested persons are welcomed. Donations to: Stop MAI Coalition (WA), PO Box 608, Nedlands, WA, 6909.
For NEWS MEDIA Sep 8 MAI meeting REPORT     For NEWS MEDIA Sep 8 MAI meeting REPORT

MAI protest going to Paris in October

Co-ordinated Australia-wide action has been planned to criticise the Multilateral Agreement on Investment [MAI] in the period to October 20, when delegates from the 29 OECD nations will meet in Paris to decide the fate of the "stealth treaty."

A public meeting at Rockingham yesterday [Tuesday Sep 8 1998] was told of a series of actions which will firmly lock Australia's civil society into world-wide rejection of any more freedom for multinational corporations to sidestep labour and environmental standards and avoid taxation.

The meeting was attended by representatives of trade unions, non-government organisations, the Greens, Australian Democrats and One Nation. It was shunned by both major parties, both of which are known to be committed to the MAI.

During the federal election campaign, all parliamentarians will be asked to declare their personal views on the MAI, irrespective of official party stance. Approaches will also be made to high-profile personages and groups to endorse petitions calling on the OECD to change direction.

Australian Stop MAI campaigners are proposing the adoption by the United Nations of a Citizens' Public Trust Treaty to redress "the consequences of half a century of unprincipled economic growth". /ENDS

Note: A copy of the Citizens' Public Trust Treaty can be faxed on request


The chairperson was the Stop MAI (WA) Coalition's convener Rodney Vlais.
Brian Jenkins (08) 9246 3882 brian@nettrek.com.au. Other telehones (08) 9335 7646, 9335 5939
June 30 1998 MEETING REPORT

MAI  treaty  'makes  Government  lie  about  exceptions'
Allowance for country-specific exceptions for signatories of the Multilateral Agreement on Investment was fraudulent and permitted governments to lie to their citizens about the OECD treaty's real impact, a Perth public meeting was told on June 30.

The speaker, WA Trades and Labour Council secretary Tony Cooke, was one of a panel of four who addressed the audience of 200 at the Leederville meeting, held by Stop MAI, a national coalition seeking to prevent Australia's participation.
Other speakers were barrister and open-government campaigner Bevan Lawrence, journalist and radio current affairs presenter Liam Bartlett and former WA senator Jean Jenkins.
A unanimous resolution of the 200 people at the Leederville (Perth, WA) meeting called on State and Federal parliamentarians to:

The chairperson was the Stop MAI (WA) Coalition's chairperson Rodney Vlais. This was the coalition's second public protest meeting.

TAX PAYMENT OPTIONAL
Jean Jenkins, spokesperson for the Stop MAI (WA) Coalition, long-time advocate of "people power," and a former WA senator, said that the people pushing for the MAI were the owners of the multinational corporations which controlled and made the profits from 90 percent of total world investment.
This agreement was designed to protect and advance their interests, and any advantage to anyone else would be purely accidental.
Mrs Jenkins asked whether the MAI was capable of solving three serious problems faced by Australians:

"We have serious problems with pollution of air and water, and poor town planning; a dramatically widening gap between the incomes of the elite and those of the workers, and emergence of a definite class of super-rich people for whom payment of tax is optional, by virtue of high-priced accountants and lawyers," she said.
Federal Minister for Resources, Senator Warwick Parer, made millions of dollars from mining company shares but had not seen such peanuts worth registering as pecuniary interests.

SPEED UP IMPOVERISHMENT
Fifteen years of creeping economic rationalisation had already answered the question, Mrs Jenkins said.
The MAI would mean more of the same, at a faster rate, without opportunity to correct mistakes through legislation.
Clearly, under the MAI, multinationals would force the privatisation and reduced subsidisation of more essential services, take over more of our primary and secondary industries, move more operations offshore, sack more workers and make it impossible for our governments to stop or reverse such changes.
Under the MAI, subsidised hospitals and schools would be classed as discriminatory unless the same subsidies were also paid to the hospitals and schools established by foreign investors.
All private universities would have to receive the same government assistance as the public ones or they could sue the Federal Government for equivalent compensation.
"When we seek to hold governments accountable, they will shrug and say that they cannot make laws which contravene the MAI, or which cause any loss of profit to investors other than Australian investors," Mrs Jenkins said.
"There is a strong possibility that Australia could join with other countries in demanding important changes to the treaty before signing it.
"Because of the weak Government we have in Australia, and because of our very vulnerable trading position in our region, I believe we should go for a full withdrawal from it, and don't believe this would cause loss of investment," Mrs Jenkins said.

NO MORE MUM-DAD SHARES
Tony Cooke, the Secretary of the Western Australian Trades and Labour Council, began by expounding the central provisions of the MAI, for the benefit of many members of the public who were hearing about the proposal for the first time.
He explained the mechanisms of "standstill" and "roll-back" in their relationship to a mythical level playing field which he said was itself very much open to question.
Mr Cooke recalled that the OECD was part of the Western world's response to the Cold War evolving as a club of 29 members acting as an umpire and blowing the whistle in line with rules they had drawn up.
The rules were not necessarily appropriate to contemporary civil society, in which the community has a right to special precautionary arrangements, and to the accountability of Parliament for important national commitments.
The possible consequences of social fragmentation and disempowerment were necessarily part of the debate on the MAI, together with the pros and cons of globalisation in terms of economic and cultural influences.
Mr Cooke demonstrated the enormous market-opening potential of the MAI, pointing to the six or seven per cent of India's population which was capable of "middle-class" consumption.
Ability to free this up for unfettered foreign competition would create a new market exceeding the total population of the United Kingdom, Mr Cooke said.
He referred to a recent correspondence he had with State Energy Minister Colin Barnett over the latter's undertaking to ensure that purchase of shares in a privatisation of the electricity utility Western Power would be limited to Western Australian "mums and dads."
The minister was obliged to agree that there could be no such assurance under the MAI.
With reference to the dispute resolution mechanism proposed for the MAI, Mr Cooke declared that, in all his experience of dealing with tribunals and courts, he had never heard of any tribunal with powers as great as that which would be determining the compensation to be paid by national government to multinational plaintiffs.
In concluding, Mr Cooke cautioned against too archaic a view of national sovereignty one of the important issues called forth in the MAI debate and suggested that some of the views being canvassed had the intention of returning us to the insular pre-1956 era, which was unacceptable.

OPEN UP TREATY POWERS
Bevan Lawrence, a practising barrister and prominent campaigner in past issues including the Australia Card and the business improprieties of the 'WA Inc' State Government era, addressed the broad issue of the Commonwealth's treaties power.
He established that there was no legal requirement for the MAI or any other treaty to be approved by or referred to the Parliament.
The treaties power, inherited from the Westminster system, had been ultimately derived from the 'royal prerogative' of kings and that same power now resided with the Australian Prime Minister, he said.
The present Liberal Government had instituted a policy of at least 15 days' parliamentary consultation through a new Joint Standing Committee on Treaties, and consultation with the States through a Treaties Council, but these processes had no powers and were little more than "window dressing."
Similarly, the requirement for a national interest analysis to be tabled was of little value in the probable event that it would be prepared by the very people who were promoting the treaty.
These placatory arrangements had resulted from the Liberals' vocal indignation, when in Opposition, over an abrupt announcement by the former Labor Prime Minister Paul Keating that he had concluded a bilateral military treaty with Indonesian President Soeharto which, he openly acknowledged, had been done in secret because Parliament and the people might oppose it.
Mr Lawrence declared his preference for "people power" in the sense of Swiss-style direct democracy and volunteered his opinion that Australia had a long way to go before we could become a viable democracy.
This was illustrated by the fact that executive government need pay no heed to the recommendations of parliamentary committees.
Further, the import of treaties did not require complementary legislation to become part of the Common Law.
Since power over foreign affairs had been ceded by the States to the Commonwealth at federation, the Commonwealth had been able to use this power to override Acts of State and Territory parliaments on a number of occasions, he said.
For instance, the Northern Territory's law enabling euthanasia had been outlawed by the Commonwealth Parliament, and in 1983 Tasmania's legislation for the damming of the Franklin River had been similarly nullified.
Mr Lawrence made the point that, though he was personally supportive of the campaign against damming the Franklin, he strongly believed that it was legally inappropriate for a State Act to be overthrown in that way.
The treaty-making process should be opened up to full public scrutiny and made accountable.
In his opinion, this should involve the approval of both federal Houses and probably also of the States' Houses (or, at the least, of a majority of State Houses).

CAPITAL COMING WITHOUT MAI
Turning to the matter of the MAI, he was critical of the situation that the onus of proving the Agreement's unsuitability had fallen on the treaty's opponents.
"It should be the other way round -- let the proponents prove that the MAI will be beneficial to us," he said.
It was very apparent that Australia was attractive to foreign capital in the absence of an MAI, and that the inflow would not dry up because we decline to sign the MAI.
Moreover, changes to rules had a tendency to generate confusion and conflict. Wisdom should dictate that the rules should not be changed unless and until they absolutely had to be changed.
Mr Lawrence referred to the pronouncement of High Court Chief Justice Sir Harry Gibbs (1994) that treaties wee capable of expanding Commonwealth power to the extent that no area of legislation was excluded.
This fact had been demonstrated in controversial interchanges of legislation and judgment between the Parliament and Court in recent years.
The solution was to make treaties subject to parliamentary control. It was ironic that Senator Rod Kemp, who was responsible for carriage of the MAI, himself wrote in a 1994 paper that Australia's Constitution was being compromised by these processes.
It was indisputable that a measure of sovereignty was always surrendered in these agreements, Mr Lawrence said.

BIG BUSINESS 'WELFARE'
Liam Bartlett, television and radio journalist, Constitutional Convention independent delegate, and author of the most penetrating MAI criticism published in a Perth newspaper (the Sunday Times), opened his address with some observations on a journalistic level, noting that the MAI's supporters were uncomfortable when questioned for justification on a number of points, including:

"The reality is that a 'level playing field' is the last thing ever sought by multinational corporations," Mr Bartlett said.
Rather, they made enormous efforts to gain unfair advantages and, if possible, eliminate all competition before they feel it was reasonable to proceed with an operation.
They did not like to dwell on these points, because there was overwhelming evidence of their irresponsibility, often bordering on the criminal.
Was BHP anxious to give the people of the Ok Tedi region a level playing field? Was Union Carbide a beneficial contributor to the community of Bhopal [India]?
The track record of the multinationals gave them no right to ask for relaxed rules of investment, entry rights or that mythical level playing field, he said.
They already had massive advantages. Unlike the majority of Australian businesses, they made use of tax havens on a gigantic scale and they had sophisticated machinery for moving capital around the world.
Mr Bartlett cited a recent comparative analysis establishing that the economic interdependence of nations and relative financial integration had been diminished in the period of the World Wars but had now returned to the same level as had applied in 1913.

100 PROFITS OF $300m NOT TAXED
Questioner: Can one of the panel explain the concept of "roll-back?"
Tony Cooke: The MAI will require the Government to "standstill" or not progress further any laws or regulations which cause inconvenience or loss of profit to a foreign investor.
Laws which are already in place, or existing provisions for which the Government has succeeded in registering "exceptions" to the MAI , must be rolled back (repealed or withdrawn) within an expected number of years. The objective is that all exceptions will in time be eliminated .
By allowing such exceptions, the MAI encourages the Government to make the agreement saleable by lying. The exceptions they tell us about must be rolled back.
Questioner: In the Sunday Times article in April, Liam Bartlett stated some staggering statistics about the top 100 multinationals (each earning over $A300 million a year) paying no tax.. I ask Liam what is the source of those figures?
Liam Bartlett: The earning figures were turnover figures provided by the Australian Tax Office, together with information on tax paid by the named companies. There is no secret about it ; anyone can go to the Tax Office and get those figures.
Questioner: Does the MAI conflict with the Australian Constitution?
Bevan Lawrence: No, I don't see how it can. It is a trade agreement which the Executive Government has power to enter. The consequences may be unpalatable in terms of how we expect the Constitution to protect us, but in pure legal terms, the Government can sign and be acting in accordance with the Constitution.
Questioner: Would there be retaliation if we did not sign the MAI?
Tony Cooke: It is not being sold as something which is bad for us. We are supposed to buy it so that we can go out and rape another country without too much inconvenience.
Big companies desperately need the advantages which these arrangements give them. I'll give you an example concerning our own Homeswest organisation. They prize the triple-A credit rating they have with Standard and Poors. Every year, they pay hundreds of thousands of dollars in fees to get Standard and Poors to come out and inspect their operation so that the same people can award them continuance of the triple-A rating!   /ends

MEDIA HELP INFORMATION
Contact Speakers: Tony Cooke (08) 9328 7877 tlc@ca.com.au; Bevan Lawrence (08) 9325 3466; Liam Bartlett (08) 9220 1442; Jean Jenkins (08) 9246 3882 brian@nettrek.com.au.   Rodney Vlais (chair) (08) 9424 4200 eco-heal@vianet.net.au
Further information: Convener Rodney Vlais eco-heal@vianet.net.au or researcher Dion Giles (08) 9335 7646 dgiles@chem.murdoch.edu.au or publicist Brian Jenkins 9246 3882 brian@nettrek.com.au   Mail to: Stop MAI Coalition (WA), PO Box 608, Nedlands, WA, 6909

A REPORT OF THE RESOLUTIONS of the June 30 1998 meeting is also at: http://dove.mtx.net.au/~hermann/wameet.htm

BACKGROUND INFORMATION
The coalition's previous protest meeting (report below), at Fremantle on April 21, had packed a hall with 250 people from all parts of the political spectrum.
Addresses by Tony Cooke (WA Trades and Labour Council Secretary) tlc@ca.com.au , Senator Dee Margetts (Greens -- WA) senator.margetts@aph.gov.au , Dr Rob Lambert (sociologist, UWA) rlambert@ecel.uwa.edu.au , Mal Taylor (Rural Action Movement) and Rodney Vlais (Stop-MAI WA convener) were enthusiastically received.
Most of the audience signed petitions and registered to be kept informed. Chairperson was former WA senator Jean Jenkins.


APRIL 21 1998 MEETING REPORT
(Media Release of 22 April, 1998)
TREATY  'COUNTER  TO  SOCIAL  COHESION'

The Multilateral Treaty on Investment (MAI) is designed to entrench the philosophy of economic rationalism and prevent any reversal for at least 20 years, a packed meeting of 250 West Australians was told by TLC Secretary Mr Tony Cooke at the Victoria Hall, Fremantle last night [April 21].

"We have reached a time when people from every part of the political spectrum must work together to heal the divisions in society, but we are now faced with the possible effects of an international treaty which is counter to restoring social cohesion.
"The MAI establishes control by multinational corporations over our destiny-and the regional interests which underpin our democratic society are not recognised under this agreement, no matter what reservations our Government may negotiate," he said.
Mr Cooke, who had rushed from addressing an even bigger meeting of trade unionists at the Fremantle Town Hall and was clearly exhausted, electrified the audience as he flayed politicians for not heeding the population's needs and wishes.
The meeting, organised by STOP-MAI (WA) was also addressed by WA Greens Senator Dee Margetts , Mr Mal Taylor (President, Rural Action Movement) and Dr Rob Lambert of the University of Western Australia's School of Organisational and Labour Studies. It was chaired by former Democrat senator Jean Jenkins.
STOP-MAI convener, Mr Rodney Vlais , said after the meeting that the issue of MAI was now firmly fixed in the public eye, despite efforts by the Federal Government and powerful vested interests to put the treaty in place with minimal attention.   /ENDS
PHONE CONTACTS: Jean Jenkins 08 9246 3882, Dr Dion Giles 08 9335 7646
Web Site of Stop-MAI Australia: http://www/avid.net.au/stopmai/


OFFICIAL MAI TREATY NEGOTIATING TEXT has been released (after about two drafts had been "leaked" to the Internet) at: http://www.oecd.org/daf/cmis/mai/negtext.htm   But because it is in Portable Document Format (.pdf) you'll need Acrobat Reader, either from http://www.adobe.com/prodindex/acrobat/readstep.html, or from a CD-ROM (a lot quicker), to read it.
A PLAIN-TEXT VERSION of the official 14 February 1998 draft MAI Treaty has been devised, and is at: http://web.uvic.ca/german/hendrik/mai-0298.txt

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