Tuesday, 2 February 2016

The TPPA - why I oppose it.

Tomorrow the TPPA (Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement) will be signed in Auckland by the twelve participartory countries, maybe at Sky City... or maybe that's just a diversionary distination to waylay the protester, and I am pretty bloody pissed off about it.


Well first of all it has not even been through our parliament for debate, as the full and final text really only became available once the last parliamentary year finished.  Before that it was all leaks and conjectures about what the TPPA contained.  But those leaks and conjectures were a worry... and not too far from the truth as it turns out.

A couple of nights ago, I asked on a page operated by NZEI if there was an organised group attending the march in Auckland tomorrow.  I wanted to be with like minded friends to participate. 

One of the responses was this:   Is there a depth of understanding about the TPPA ??? What about advantages?

And I responded with this:

Tariff reductions are a great advantage. Opening up new markets is a great advantage. 
But this is why I don't support the TPPA:

  • It was negotiated in secret. Unlike previous FTAs, there was no bipartisan consultation with other political parties, no consultation with Tangata Whenua and little consultation with our own business leaders and academics. 
  • The Treaty of Waitangi is not mentioned in it. This is a defining piece of NZ law. There is precedence for it to be included. It was part of the FTA Phil Goff negotiated with China.
  • Unlike Australia or Singapore or a few other nations, we have no rights to invoke protections as to who can come in and buy land and houses from overseas. Even implementing something as simple as requiring a foreigner to build a new home rather than buy an existing house would not be allowed. 
  • The increased lengths of patents on biomedications and the like will blow our health budget out of the water and continue delays and denials of access to the best treatments for people suffering from health conditions. 
  • Copyright law changes will makes books more expensive - not great for public libraries and schools and the like.
  • The fact that when our government wants to change a law, they will have to allow foreign nationals and corporates to make submissions. Stop and think about how that will likely have a negative effect on environmental or employment law for example. If you think I'm not realistic, did you know the company that runs Auckland's trains, Veolia, has sued Egypt for raising the minimum wage? Now think about how Peter Jackson and Warner Bros has already influenced employment law for actors and film workers in NZ.
  • Tim Groser promised us a gold plated deal and that he wouldn't bow down to continued tariffs and restrictions on our dairy trade. Then he made us eat dead rats over that, and American and Canadian dairy farmers breathed a Collective sigh of relief when Groser rolled over. The benefits to the dairy industry are minimal, as they are over all. Tufts University predicts without the TPPA NZ would have a 46% increase in GPD by 2030; with it the increase would be 47% - consequently, business wise, the TPPA is negligible. 
  • And this is the complete deal breaker for me: the impact on our quality public education system in NZ. Let's say a company from the US arrives called XYZ Ed. They can demand that the NZ government give them money to set up a charter school in NZ. Despite the fact that where they set it up doesn't need a new school. With our tax payer dollars. And we all know NZ charter schools aren't subjected to the scrutiny that state schools are. And why? Because the TPPA allows it. Singapore's negotiators didn't agree to that one and had it written out of their part of the agreement. 
Which then begs the question: what bloody use was Tim Groser as a negotiator? 
The fish hooks are too many!
And finally let me put it this way, if I offered you a chicken sandwich made with fresh bread and fresh cooked chicken with a lovely chutney but laced with rat poison, would you take it and eat it? Because that's what the TPPA effectively is.
Another contributor also added this in support:
When our government signed up to the Treaty of Waitangi Act in 1975 we accepted three fundamental principles of the Treaty: Partnership, Protection and Participation. (The Act doesn't actually say that but that it is how it is interpreted and implemented in the public service.) 

The TPPA hardly embodies these: no Maori have been partners in the negotiation; there are severe concerns that our assets and sovereignty will not be protected; and there has been no participation in what has been an entirely secret set of dealing and wheeling. smile emoticon

If we value the Treaty of Waitangi, we need to value it every day of the year. It seems to me that John Key has ignored it 364 days of the year and then wants to be valued and honoured on the one day that is Waitangi Day. 

Sorry - that doesn't wash with me.
So tomorrow I intend to march with thousands of other New Zealanders because I simply do not believe that this deal is in the best interests of New Zealand and its people long term in its current format.
Like Andrew Little said last week, I support Free Trade but I do not support our sovereignty being pulled from under us and I believe that the best deal for New Zealand is not in the TPPA.
I like the fact that Labour waited for the full text to be available before making a declaration on its TPPA stand.  It is what Andrew Little said they would do - read the text and talk to experts and get advice and then make a decision about how it met Labour's stated five bottom lines it released in mid 2015..
I respect that the Greens and New Zealand First made the decision long before seeing the text.  Fletcher Tabuteau, an economics lecturer in his former life, was able to clearly show how the numbers just do not stack up greatly for New Zealand under the TPPA during the Auckland Town Hall meeting last week.  Metiria Turei was able to show the impacts on sovereignty, workers, the environment and many other things Kiwis value.
Marama Fox from the Maori Party also demonstrated how the TPPA will impact on the Treaty of Waitangi and how that breaches the needs of Maori and continues to make Maori victims of colonisation.  Of course, Maori will not be the only indigenous people of the countries participating to be affected, but Maori are unique due to the recognition of the Treaty of Waitangi in New Zealand law in 1975.
Lori Wallach pointed out at the Town Hall meeting that the TPPA in its current form would not make it through Congress in the US.  Neither the Democrats nor the Republicans support it.  The Republicans view clauses in it to be even weaker than what George W Bush managed to negotiate in his FTAs when it comes to the environment.  In fact, here is a tweet published by Elizabeth Warren's Official twitter account today.  Elizabeth Warren is a Democrat Senator from Massachusetts and an academic of commercial and bankruptcy law, formerly of Harvard University.

And when you look at this tweet in the context of those before an after, it speaks volumes about the position that Congress is taking.

There have been protests in Malaysia in regards to losing control of their economy, the impacts on small and medium sized business and the costs of medicine under the TPPA in Malaysia. Other countries in South America have also had protests against the TPPA and the Pacific Island countries, who relied on New Zealand to protect and promote their interests, are not happy with the outcome.  The lead negotiator from Japan has had to resign his positions after corruption and bribery allegations have been made against him.
And in response to detractors of Dr Jane Kelsey, New Zealand's foremost knowledgeable academic on the TPPA and Auckland University professor, it is her job as an academic to investigate such deals and put them under the microscope, to put them up for rigorous debate.  She knows New Zealand law by the back of her hand.  And Dr Kelsey is not alone, as many of her fellow academics have contributed to the analysis of what the TPPA would mean to New Zealand.
Even Tufts University in Massachusetts USA has cast shade on some of the claims to emerge from the TPPA.  Their analysis proves that the propaganda being put about by our National led government is folly and fantasy.  Click here for one such analysis.
In my view, Tim Groser failed to meet the standard as a negotiator and a protector of New Zealand's best interests.  John Key has failed to meet the standard of being the Prime Minister of New Zealand by failing to protect the best interests of the New Zealand people, its businesses and economy.

If you are wanting to find out more for yourself to help you form your own view, here are some links to some vital information:

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