GUEST BLOG: Sam Oldham – TPPA: Steal This Agreement

17
3

Screen Shot 2015-08-01 at 8.26.56 am

On September 15, a group of activists affiliated with the Show Us Ya Text* campaign will converge on Parliament in an attempt to seize the text of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA), an agreement that has so far been negotiated under secrecy.

The potentially disastrous consequences of the TPPA for New Zealand workers has been well-documented. From the data that is available, Jane Kelsey (in her 2010 book No Ordinary Deal) and others are able to conclude that multi-national corporations will be the major beneficiaries of any deal, at the expense of working people. Secrecy protects the agreement from public scrutiny, making proper and informed criticism difficult. Herein lies the irony of John Key rebuking anti-TPPA protestors for being ‘misinformed’ in recent weeks. The words of John Milton come to mind: ‘They who have put out the people’s eyes, reproach them for their blindness.’

The Show Us Ya Text campaign therefore represents a fulfilment of democratic principles—and so it is framed by organisers. Kelsey and others have demolished any suggestion that trade deals must necessarily be negotiated in secret. If the TPPA is truly to be negotiated in the public interest and on its behalf, the details of the agreement should be publicly accessible. In one sense, a campaign to seize the TPPA challenges a notion that has been central to the policy decisions of the National Government—that democracy is limited to elections. It was this that allowed John Key to dismiss the 2013 citizens-initiated referendum on asset sales, on grounds that the election provided sufficient mandate to sell public assets. Curiously, on issues that pose no threat to corporate or state power, such as changing the symbols on the flag, National’s idea of democracy becomes strangely more robust. Secrecy and doubt are cornerstones of National’s public relations strategy. Indeed, the mantra of ‘these things are always done in secret’ is what ‘mum and dad investors’ was to asset sales. That companies and investment institutions quickly became the biggest private shareholders of our assets—not ‘mums and dads’—was unimportant after privatisation. By challenging government secrecy on the TPPA, some of these contradictions might be brought again into focus.

The September 15 action is being described by organisers as a citizen ‘search and seizure’. Planning meetings were held in all major centres this week. In Auckland, a public meeting hosted by the YES Collective was attended by around forty people. Planning and preparation for the action is set to be rigorous. People who agree to participate will undergo ‘training’ in non-violent direct action, and ‘peacekeepers’ will be deployed to ensure against violence by anyone involved. The involvement of a Greenpeace campaigner in the organising team comes as no surprise. At every stage of the Show Us Ya Text campaign, principles of openness, transparency and non-violence are forefront.

TDB Recommends NewzEngine.com

The campaign has obvious limitations—for one, the practical likelihood of gaining access to the TPPA documents is better left to the imagination. When this criticism was raised at the Auckland meeting, a facilitator half-joked that ‘if we get in, we’ll probably just go desk to desk until we find it’. But similar actions abroad have been successful in securing public access to secret trade negotiations. In Canada, an attempt by activists to seize the secret text of the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) agreement—which, like the TPPA, was set to effect ‘degradation of environmental regulations, weakened labour laws, and the subjugation of national laws to secretive, pro-corporate tribunals’—resulted in the details of the agreement being made public less than a week later. In US history, the notorious Counter Intelligence Programmes (COINTELPRO) of the 1960s—during which the FBI illegally surveilled and disrupted activist groups (being implicated even in the slaying of black civil rights activists)—was discovered after activists calling themselves the Citizens Commission to Investigate the FBI broke into an FBI field office and stole documents in 1971. Wikileaks, Edward Snowden, Chelsea Manning and others have done much to expose the criminal actions of governments in recent years, almost always by breaking existing laws.

If the TPPA might not be seized on September 15, it should be. People should have access to information regarding a trade deal negotiated on their behalf, to which they would be bound intractably, particular when it threatens the public interest so seriously. Information that is available suggests clearly that the TPPA represents a significant threat to the economic and political sovereignty of Aotearoa and to the livelihoods of New Zealand workers. The details of the TPPA should be publicised, within the confines of the law or otherwise.

For more information or to become involved in the Show Us Ya Text campaign, go to showusyatext.org

*The author acknowledges that the name Show Us Ya Text may invoke images of jeering, drunk men.

17 COMMENTS

  1. What is the basis of this TPPA agreement nobody seems to know much about it, we only have milk powder to sell so I can’t see it benefiting us too much?

  2. Go for it.

    Even in the (somewhat likely) event the text is not found, the point will still be made that democracy doesn’t start and finish with parliamentary elections which are so easy to subvert. Openness all the way, brilliant stuff by people who care enough to take a risk and be sneered at for apparent failure.

    They are taking this risk for us, and I for one am grateful.

  3. I have an inkling of why the government is pushing TPPA.
    Today I heard a local big business that has been sold ,the staff are being terminated,not made redundant but terminated,termination means no redundancy pay,the new owner will probably invite new people and old employees to apply for their jobs. The new owner can choose his own staff.
    If education, welfare etc etc is privatised, present staff can be terminated ,no redundancy pay,all maybe to suit the corporations.
    Things will be very tough if the TPPA goes through.
    The hikoi to parliament is fine ,but to advertise what they intend is a bit unwise,to say they are going to seize the TPPA documents is letting the government prepare ,tazers stun guns etc, maybe.
    The documents will be hidden away.but the protest if it draws attention as in Canada might result in some change.
    I hope there are a lot of people on the hikoi or they too will be classed as rent a crowd again or extremists , labelling and blaming people is what this government does best.

  4. They should [Sandman, comments advocating violence will not be permitted on this blogsite. Please cease and desist. – ScarletMod]
    globalist.

  5. ‘that democracy is limited to elections ‘.

    Yes … from where does this continual abuse of power emanate from with this Key led govt?

    Certainly other govts before it have carried on in like manner but none more so than this one.

    Democracy does not stop at the door of an election win but carries on right through the term for which that govt was elected as REPRESENTATIVES of the population.

    It is not good enough to say conveniently at an election that ‘we stand for democratic processes only when it suits our agenda ‘…

    Oh no …that mantle of upholding democratic inclusiveness is the natural and ongoing mandate any govt in this country has to bear.

    Because the people say so.

    And to try to force on the public an idea or change in legal status or any unpopular move against the peoples will – esp when done in secret and then blaming people for being ‘misinformed’…

    There is a word for that and it is called TOTALITARIANISM.

    This govt …among many issues – and particularly and most demonstrably with the TTPA have been acting not in any semblance of democracy …. but in fact exactly as a totalitarian govt would do.

    And ,….because of this … they have now lost and forfeited any claim whatsoever to being ‘ democratic ‘ or having a mandate from the people to govern democratically – but have now instead moved from that position and into the realm of the totalitarian led state.

    Once any govt does this…they cross that fine line and delicate position that democracy holds.

    And this govt has willfully done just that.

    It is that simple.

    • And this is why I believe the Queen or her representative, if he would come out of hiding (from his alleged war crimes; handing over war captives to definite torture), should sack this Government and hold new elections. Plus Key et al should be up on Treason charges.
      Their behavior is UNACCEPTABLE and is totally in line with Naomi Klein’s ‘ten steps all fascist states take’. NZ has done 6 for sure, two are debatable and that only leaves two, a private army and secretive prisons (I think are the ones missing to-date).

      Wake up NZ, Germany, Spain and Italy have shown what happens when good men do nothing and allowed evil and TOTALITARIANISM to take hold.

      Hitler and Mussolini were very popular also and the press (and sportsmen……..yes All Blacks I’m referring to you; history will judge you badly for allowing Key to make you his pawns) did their job to back up the image.

  6. Brilliant ! Brilliant ! Brilliant ! Brilliant ! Brilliant ! Brilliant ! Brilliant ! Brilliant ! Brilliant ! Brilliant ! Brilliant ! Brilliant ! Brilliant ! Brilliant ! Brilliant ! Brilliant ! Brilliant ! Brilliant ! Brilliant ! Brilliant ! Brilliant ! Brilliant ! Brilliant ! Brilliant ! Brilliant ! Brilliant ! Brilliant ! Brilliant ! Brilliant ! Brilliant ! Brilliant ! Brilliant ! Brilliant ! Brilliant ! Brilliant ! Brilliant ! Brilliant ! Brilliant ! Brilliant ! Brilliant !

    There is hope.

  7. It’s really come home to me just how dangerous it is for someone in power to be bound to the wrong political philosophy.

  8. I’m traveling 1037 km to be there and I’m old and feeble both of mind and body. If I can do it then you can too. The 15th will a very important day. Perhaps the most important in recent NZ history. We, the people standing up to a blatantly corrupt regime.
    I’m so excited !

Comments are closed.