TPP protests beckon

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

Fait ac­com­pli it might seem to be, but like Demo­crat pres­i­den­tial hope­ful Bernie San­ders, those op­posed to the Trans Pa­cific Part­ner­ship Agree­ment are not yet pre­pared to throw in the towel. It’s no­table that all three lead­ing Amer­i­can pres­i­den­tial can­di­dates are against the TPPA in its cur­rent form.

So, is the TPPA ‘‘at over 6000 pages... the long­est surrender doc­u­ment in New Zealand his­tory’’ as claimed by Dr Ro­muald Rudzki, founder of the NZ School of Ex­port, or does it of­fer New Zealand a bright new trad­ing fu­ture?

Still to be rat­i­fied, the TPPA trade for sovereignty deal be­tween 12 Pa­cific Rim states was agreed to on in Oc­to­ber 2015, and signed in Auck­land in Fe­bru­ary 2016, fol­low­ing eight years of ne­go­ti­a­tions.

The text was re­leased on Novem­ber 5 and im­me­di­ately there were fire­works. Crit­ics such as Auck­land law pro­fes­sor Jane Kelsey, quickly picked up that the TPPA will have wide-rang­ing im­pacts on the en­vi­ron­ment (nowhere is cli­mate change men­tioned); on in­tel­lec­tual prop­erty and in­ter­net free­dom, the price of medicines; job creation, and the abil­ity of fu­ture gov­ern­ments to reg­u­late on be­half of their cit­i­zens.

Op­po­nents point out that only six of the TPPA’s chap­ters are about trade; the re­main­der re­in­force the rights of transna­tional cor­po­ra­tions, and ex­pose the gov­ern­ment to In­vestor State Dis­pute Set­tle­ment tri­bunals where cor­po­ra­tions can sue if leg­is­la­tion is seen to im­pede prof­its. There is no right of ap­peal.

Only af­ter the event has the Min­istry of For­eign Af­fairs and Trade (MFAT) em­barked on a mis­sion to ex­plain the deal to New Zealan­ders.

An­nounced late last week, Palmer­ston North gets its visit this Fri­day, June 17.

MFAT says the roadshow will present the out­comes of the TPP ne­go­ti­a­tions and help busi­nesses pre­pare to take ad­van­tage of the new op­por­tu­ni­ties it pre­sents. De­spite the re­turns to the coun­try fall­ing far short of ex­pec­ta­tion, ad­vo­cates say that New Zealand’s con­tin­ued vi­a­bil­ity as a trad­ing na­tion de­pends on be­ing a sig­na­tory.

Long time TPPA op­po­nent, Sue Pug­mire says fol­low­ing the trun­cated Par­lia­men­tary Sub­mis­sion pro­ce­dure, the short roadshow lead-in and its week­day times­lot be­tween 9am – 12:25pm when many peo­ple are un­able to at­tend, is an­other slap in the face for the demo­cratic process.

‘‘It’s a pub­lic event, but peo­ple have to reg­is­ter by June 15 to at­tend, and ques­tion times are tightly con­trolled.’’

See tpp@mfat.govt.nz to reg­is­ter.

A ‘‘Car­ni­val-Style’’ protest is be­ing or­gan­ised for Fitzher­bert Ave out­side the venue ‘‘to re­mind peo­ple of our peace­ful and proud, so­cial, cul­tural, eco­nomic and po­lit­i­cal in­de­pen­dence’’.

Sue says an anti-TPP roadshow pre­sent­ing in­de­pen­dent, peer­re­viewed, ex­pert assess­ments of the agree­ment will visit Palmer­ston North shortly.

PHOTO: WAR­WICK SMITH/ FAIR­FAX NZ

Yet an­other anti-TPPA protest is planned, this time out­side the Copthorne on Fri­day when the Min­istry of For­eign Af­fairs and Trade roadshow ex­plain­ing the agree­ment, pitches its tent in town on Fri­day morn­ing.

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