Stop MAI campaign launched

Issue 

Stop MAI campaign launched

By Jo Brown

SYDNEY — The launch of a campaign against the Multilateral Agreement on Investment (MAI) was held here on January 15. The MAI, which has been largely hidden from public debate in Australia, is an international treaty which seeks to protect the "rights" of transnational companies and restrict governments' ability to regulate their behaviour.

Under the MAI, transnational companies will be able to sue governments which prevent them destroying the environment or displacing indigenous peoples.

The campaign will soon be launched in Melbourne, Brisbane and Adelaide. It will link with existing international networks of non-government organisations opposed to the treaty.

Present at the launch were a wide range of individuals and groups including consumer groups, Amnesty International, Philippines and Indonesia solidarity organisations, a representative from the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union and members of the Australian Democrats, the Democratic Socialist Party and Resistance.

The group agreed to support the "eight key objections" raised by the international campaign, which include an independent investigation of the social, environmental and development impacts of the MAI.

The group wants governments to require that multinational investors observe binding agreements on environmental, labour, health, safety and human rights standards.

The group will approach parliamentarians to try to get the treaty debated in parliament, as in New Zealand, and to obtain a clear position from the government on the treaty. A report is being drafted on the potential impact of the MAI and will be launched at a public meeting in February.