TPP dis­quiet grows

The Tribune (NZ) - - FRONT PAGE - RICHARD MAYS

From all re­ports, the agree­ment bind­ing 12 Pa­cific Rim na­tions in a se­cretly ne­go­ti­ated sovereignty and trade deal looks likely to be signed in New Zealand.

The 6000 page text of the Trans Pa­cific Part­ner­ship Agree­ment or TPPA was re­leased late last year. A small army of ex­perts have been por­ing over its 30 or so chap­ters to find out just what is in it for us, and what New Zealand has to give up to get ‘‘it’’.

Lo­cal TPPA op­po­nent, Sue Pug­mire says Prime Min­is­ter John Key is be­ing disin­gen­u­ous when he says the many clauses will be open to par­lia­men­tary scru­tiny.

She says the rat­i­fi­ca­tion of the agree­ment, which is part of the process that kicks in af­ter the for­mal and largely cer­e­mo­nial sign­ing ex­pected to be in Auck­land on Fe­bru­ary 4, will have no demo­cratic in­put.

‘‘It’ll be done through the ex­ec­u­tive through a loop­hole in our trade law – we don’t get a say.’’

Sue says as more is known about the agree­ment, dis­quiet is grow­ing.

‘‘De­spite si­lence from much of the main­stream me­dia and PR spin in favour of the TPP, there are groups of ex­perts – lawyers and econ­o­mists – work­ing on the 6000 pages of le­gal text to tell us what it re­ally means.’’

Among those ex­perts in op­po­si­tion to the agree­ment are Auck­land law pro­fes­sor Jane Kelsey and Barry Coates from the Univer­sity of Auck­land School of Busi­ness.

So, if the agree­ment is go­ing to be signed, what’s the point of protest? It’s a done deal isn’t it?

‘‘It’s im­por­tant to re­alise that the sign­ing is not the end. It’s the rat­i­fi­ca­tion that counts, and that’s un­likely to be be­fore the US Pres­i­den­tial elec­tions.

‘‘Rat­i­fi­ca­tion means that US of­fi­cials will get to change our laws. This could af­fect labour and en­vi­ron­men­tal pro­tec­tions, our health and safety pro­vi­sions, education, state owned en­ter­prises and cli­mate change.’’

Ad­dress­ing cli­mate change is con­spic­u­ous by its ab­sence from the agree­ment.

She says lawyers and cor­po­ra­tions are go­ing to do very well out of the deal, but most New Zealan­ders in­clud­ing small busi­ness own­ers, won’t.

The sign­ing, Sue says is an op­por­tu­nity to raise aware­ness about the se­cretly ne­go­ti­ated pro­vi­sions.

PHOTO: WAR­WICK SMITH/FAIRFAX NZ

Those op­posed to the multi­na­tional sovereignty and trade pact have been try­ing to con­vince their fel­low cit­i­zens that the Trans Pa­cific Part­ner­ship Agree­ment is not a good deal for New Zealand.

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