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TPP needs the PC
There are growing calls for the federal government to refer
the Trans Pacifc Partnership (TPP) trade agreement to the
Productivity Commission for assessment prior to the vote to
ratify the deal by both houses of parliament. The TPP runs to
6000 pages and includes 30 chapters, and the parliament has
only 20 joint sitting days to decide whether to accept or reject
the fnalised agreement in full. It cannot infuence the details,
or seek improvements.
Matthew Rimmer, professor of law at the Queensland University
of Technology, says that better processes are required when
striking trade agreements. ‘The parliament is quite limited in
the oversight it can ofer,’ he says. ‘The sensible thing would be
for the Productivity Commission to play a greater role in such
an agreement, given its complexity and size. The parliament
struggles to make sense of these agreements, given the limited
amount of time and resources it has available.’
Professor Rimmer is critical of the way trade agreements are
presented on a ‘take it or leave it’ basis, which he believes leaves
the parliament with few choices. ‘I do think a tough, independent
analysis by the Productivity Commission would be helpful for
all concerned,’ he says. ‘The Commission has said there are real
problems with the way the Department of Foreign Afairs and
Trade (DFAT) conducts agreements [pointing to] the secrecy.’
Professor Rimmer adds that the Commission believes that DFAT
has oversold the benefts of trade deals, and has failed to take into
account the long-term costs.
Jean-Paul Gagnon, assistant professor of politics at the University
of Canberra, questions what he believes is a lack of democratic
accountability. ‘If this TPP is an agreement for the little people, why
aren’t they given the time and place for a fair go at it? The Productivity
Commission could innovate in this space by involving a representative
sample of Australian workers, consumers, small businesses, and the
poor by using what’s called a “citizens’ panel” methodology.
‘The Productivity Commission could ask each panel to run their
own cost-beneft analysis of the TPP, and then to weigh in: yea
or nay, and why. This can be done in 10–15 days of very hard
work and, while it’s not an ideal time frame for a democratic
innovation to be run, it would give the Productivity Commission’s
intervention greater legitimacy and a more worthwhile output.
UniSA's strategic partnership a boost for business
Centre to become a commercialisation pipeline for new innovations.
The University of South Australia (UniSA) is the latest to launch
an innovation centre and drive higher rates of innovation,
entrepreneurship and commercialisation across campus.
UniSA launched its Innovation and Collaboration Centre (ICC) in
November, in conjunction with Hewlett Packard and the South
In a statement, UniSA Vice Chancellor Professor David Lloyd
said that the ICC would become a commercialisation pipeline
for new innovations.
‘The ICC is built on a strategic partnership that will see
business beneft from UniSA’s knowledge in business growth
and commercialisation, combined with Hewlett Packard
Enterprise’s technological expertise and the support of the
South Australian Government.
‘It’s a partnership that champions the growth of South Australia’s
business sector through a collaborative, dynamic and supportive
environment, and it’s one that will help educate the professionals
of tomorrow, as our students will be able to generate their
business ideas and utilise the resources of the Centre,’ Lloyd said.
launching incubator or
to help students
ventures. They are
also providing better
access to seed funding;
bolstering their technology-transfer ofces; and expanding business-
planning competitions. Universites want a higher proportion of
research ideas to be turned into products and services, as well as
higher rates of new-venture formation across campus.
The University of Melbourne received a $10 million gift last
year from tourism entrepreneur Peter Wade to create the Wade
Institute for Entrepreneurship at Ormond College. In 2012, the
University of Sydney Union developed the Incubate program to
accelerate start-up ventures developed on campus.
The University of New South Wales launched the Michael
Crouch Innovation Centre this year to nurture innovation
and entrepreneurship, and Melbourne’s Swinburne
University has plans for an innovation precinct that will
house start-up ventures.
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