Why Australia Could Get Sued for Protecting the Environment

When tobacco company Philip Morris sued Australia over our plain packaging laws, it’s fair to say we were taken by surprise. How can a foreign company take a nation’s government to tribunal for protecting its citizens health?

The answer is Investor State Dispute Settlement, an obscure clause in free trade agreements allowing corporations to sue foreign governments for what it perceives to be unfair discrimination. In practice, this tends to end up happening over regulations in two areas: health, and the environment.

This episode unpacks how ISDS could put a stranglehold on regulations and policies that put people ahead of profit.


Cheyne Anderson


Dr Patricia Ranald, Convener of Australian Fair Trade and Investment Network

Dr Carl Rhodes, Professor of Organizational Studies at the University of Technology Sydney

Matthew Rimmer, Professor of Intellectual Property and Innovation Law at the Queensland University of Technology

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