John Key & National ram through TPPA minus any real scrutiny



In a few hours the Key government will take the next step to railroad through the legislation to implement the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA). There were relatively few submissions, reflecting people’s disgust with how the hearings on the agreement itself were conducted. The select committee’s draft report shows an attempt by the select committee office to provide a true record of submissions exposing the deep flaws in the TPPA. The final report stripped out any critique aside from the short minority reports from the opposition parties.

We can expect the same for this legislation. They were so intent on meeting the November timeframe so they could show willing to the US Congress that I couldn’t present my own submission orally, not that it would have made any difference. The second reading of the legislation takes place at 3.00 to 4.30 today and the bill will then be rammed through. Doubtless new Green MP Barry Coates, among others, will trounce them on the floor.

Activists are also continuing to voice opposition to the deal, with a rally planned by TPP Free Wellington at Parliament on Saturday 5 November at noon. ItsOurFuture Christchurch has maintained their amazing commitment with a hikoi to Wellington that began on 15 October, led by Rachel Thomas and her children, which will be received at Parliament today just before the bill’s second reading.

The timeline is designed purely to send a message to Washington that NZ is committed to the deal.

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With all eyes on next week’s election, speculation abounds about the prospects for a successful vote on the TPPA during the ‘lame duck’ period before the new President takes office. The shift in US sentiment and promises made by returning legislators on the campaign trail means Obama can’t rely on the votes that pushed through the Fast Track law last year. Democrats face the choice of supporting Obama or the Clinton position that the deal needs to be renegotiated. The Black Lives Matter movement recently came out against the TPPA, putting several black Democrat votes in question. Obama also needs to make up lost Republican votes from tobacco growing states who had supported the fast track legislation and oppose the TPPA because of the carveout for tobacco control policies from investor-state enforcement.

The prospects of a vote after the election for at least two years are pretty much nil. Even though there can only be one shot at a vote under fast track, meaning Congress cannot pick apart the deal, Obama is expected to go for it. He has to get past three barriers. We should not assume he can’t do this, so we need to keep up the pressure on all these fronts.

The first and biggest is satisfying demands by Big Pharma’s man in the Senate, Orrin Hatch, who as chair of the Senate Finance Committee is the gatekeeper to the upper house. Hatch is demanding the marketing monopoly on new generation biologics medicines goes beyond the controversial compromise of 8 years or 5 years plus processes that provide comparable protection, and wants a 12-year monopoly. In other words, rewriting the text to agree to what has been rejected, but without rewriting the text.

Reports suggest this is close to occurring. Hatch’s people have reportedly been travelling around TPPA countries seeking assurances that, in practice, biologics do not make it to the market for at least 12 years. The exact form of those assurances is unclear, nor is the basis for calculation, but they are likely seek some assurances in writing that may be firmed up during the ‘certification’ process before the US takes the final steps to bring the TPPA into force.

Tim Groser, now our ambassador to Washington, has said in repeated speeches that New Zealand’s period is never less than 20 years – something the Doctors for Healthy Trade strongly dispute. They have shown that a ‘biosimilar’ – the generic form of biologics – can come onto the NZ market within 6 years of the original biologic. If Groser is really committing us to that position it will cost many billions of dollars in the long term that goes straight from us as taxpayers into Pharma’s pockets or means more people complaining that Pharmac won’t provide them with super expensive life-saving medicines. If they are agreeing to something else with Hatch then we have a right to know now!

Getting past the second obstacle also requires something that was not in the ‘final’ TPPA text. There is a dangerous provision in the e-commerce chapter that says a country cannot require firms to use or locate local computer facilities inside that country as a condition of doing business (not including business conducted for the government). This means they can hold information in the ‘cloud’, which really means servers inside the US. It is then subject to its non-existent privacy protections and its deeply intrusive security laws, and to being on-sold as a lucrative sideline. There is no effective protection for privacy in the TPPA.

That ‘prohibition on data localisation’ has already been agreed. But it did not apply in the TPPA to financial data, because the US Treasury had objected – apparently because of problems obtaining the data from another country in the face of a banking collapse or systemic financial meltdown so it could take urgent action.

Wall St kicked back and got its people in Congress to demand the anti-localisation rule was extended to financial data. Again this needs to be done without reopening the TPPA text. The solution was to get most of the TPPA countries to agree to it in the current negotiations for the Trade in Services Agreement (TiSA). The rest (Vietnam, Singapore, Malaysia, Brunei) would provide side-letters agreeing to this new obligation.

That fix has hit an unexpected rock. The Europeans view privacy as a fundamental constitutional right. There is an internal conflict between the trade and justice sections of the European Commission and they have not been able to reach a position. It was meant to be tabled last week but it now won’t happen this year. That means it has no position on the financial data localisation issue either and there can be no assurance it will be in a final TiSA.

The third obstacle is the reluctance of most countries – sadly not NZ – to introduce or pass their own legislation until they see what happens in the US. It is not clear how important this may be in the Congress. Many will not want to support the deal until they see what other countries have implemented. Vietnam was expected to debate and pass their law this legislative session, but have delayed it until next year. That reflects a change of leadership, a new warming to China, and the enormity of what they are asked to so regarding medicines, SOEs, investment and much more. Similarly, the Canadian parliament has not debated the agreement, let alone implementing laws pending the outcome in the US. The Australian Senate, which the government doesn’t control, has convened its own committee hearings; that will push out a vote until 2017. Chile’s government faces a corruption scandal and is reluctant to add to the heat by adding TPPA to the mix.  It will have noted the anti-TPPA riots in Peru as the government there tries to advance the legislation. There is opposition within the government in Mexico.

That leaves Malaysia, which ratified back in February, and Singapore and Brunei, whose processes are opaque but we presume are proceeding. Japan and NZ have assumed the role of cheerleaders on behalf of the Obama administration, rushing through our own legislation and warning the US will lose its leadership role in the world if Congress is unable to pass the TPPA.

Like ours, the Japanese government is running roughshod over any opposition. I was in Tokyo earlier this week as the opposition intensifies the pressure pending a vote in the lower house, now due tomorrow. Protestors have been holding a vigil outside the parliament for several weeks, led by the former agriculture minister Yamada. The Abe government has the numbers, but it is not having an easy ride with a scandal about the rice importing scheme, strong concerns about the impacts on food safety, and boasts from the agriculture minister about railroading the deal through. The upper house has 30 days to approve the bill; but if there is a filibuster it would become law by default. As I warned them, the current bill will not be the final deal, as the US will undoubtedly seek to unravel many of Japan’s carefully crafted safeguards.

It is important to remember that, even if Obama gets the legislation, through there are still opportunities for exit. The deal can’t come into force before February 2018 unless all countries have adopted it and the US is happy with what they have done. The fall-back of 6 countries with 85% of the GDP of the 12 TPPA countries is the more likely option, and on current count they could reach that by the end of this year, provided the US Congress was happy with what Japan, New Zealand, Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei have done. But that is after the NZ election, putting Labour in the hot seat of having to declare that it would withdraw NZ’s ratification. In that worst case scenario, there is still plenty of work for us to do.


  1. The only ones who want the TPPA now are John Key, National and the 1% of the 1%.
    Just about everyone else thinks it is dead and should be buried.
    But pig-headed Tory pride will win out here. Key is determined that he will win on this one, no matter what the cost to New Zealanders.
    I think of a few words that describe a person willing to sacrifice his country due to his own pride – meglomaniac for one.

  2. Western corporations and their bought-and-paid-for fifth-columnist politicians apparently utterly are desperate to get control of western societies by corporations written into law before the system collapses. And every day that passes, the corporate system is more unstable and more unsustainable -rather like a tightrope walker who is at the point of losing balance, arms flapping and legs gyrating and not far off falling off the wire.

    We appreciate your efforts in highlighting this particular matter, Jane. However, the reality is the NZ government and its institutions are rotten to the core, the so-called submission process is a rigged farce ( with respect to everything) and the so-called opposition is worse than useless, being part of the same club as National.

    The next round of international turmoil seems to be underway: Brent oil $46.86 down 2.66%, and all the share markets continuing to fall. Even the Dow has fallen, to below 18,000.

    Is the rigging no longer working, or have the ‘elites’ decided to let the crash commence? I guess we’ll know in a few months.

  3. Thanks Jane – for your continued work and exposing the madness behind TPPA. We need to keep up the work to defeat this.

    Check out the full article here about the corporate shadow govt. behind the bought out puppets like John Key. Never enough money for the people but tons of millions of suck up money given – our tax payer money ! ! also given to the criminals at the Clinton Foundation.
    How much of our tax payer money is this idiot donky paying out to smooze during the week of arms sales and ship parades in Auckland ?

    Please folks, pass this link below on. It is a long piece but very worth the effort to read it all.

    • Key is part of that group you mentioned. He came from no where to become Prime Minister, puts New Zealand in the highest debt in the history of the country (5 billion went offshore last year to pay the interest only), sells our assets, opens the borders, outsources our trains and ships shutting down our manufacturing, borrow money for roads going nowhere, and now allows foreign U.S. conglomerates to take over our sovereignty. He is part of those you have mentioned and he is protected by main stream media. Britex, Donald Trump as POTUS, and let’s hope Key and his neoliberals go the same way as Hiltery Clinton.

  4. Two more recent bits of news:

    1. After a new round of calls for the resignation of Japan’s gaffe-prone agricultural minister, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s ruling coalition on Wednesday gave up trying to pass a bill to ratify the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement through a special Lower House committee. That means they cannot pass the legislation before the US election, and possibly not this year.

    2. Clarification on Malaysia’s position. I have just been informed that Malaysia has passed the necessary legislative approvals, on January 28. But it has not yet passed the implementing legislation. See, for example, this September New Straits Times article headlined “Malaysia amending 18 laws in preparation for TPPA ratification ​”​ where ” International Trade and Industry secretary-general Datuk J. Jayasiri said the country is “​currently on track to ratify the TPPA before it takes effect in 2018 “​ “18 laws have been identified. There are different stages of preparation. They will be sent to parliament for amendments. Once we get all these (laws) amended, we will decide on the ratification​”.​

  5. My take from Malaysia:

    From what I understand on 28 Jan the Malaysian Senate (Dewan Negara) passed a motion approving the TPPA, which was required ahead of the signing ceremony. The various pieces of implementing legislation (requiring changes to 18 laws) have not yet been presented; I imagine the rules surround the Labour Consistency Plan (a bilateral US-Malaysia deal requiring changes to Malaysia’s labour law) will take some time, as the Ministry of Human Resources is keen to ensure the most restrictive interpretations prevail.

    The Ministry of International Trade and Industry has formed a National Committee to monitor the implementation of the TPPA, and under this there sits a Consultative Committee to gather feedback from stakeholders (including NGOs) and assess the impact of implementation. This was announced in March but I haven’t seen anything come out of it yet. I can’t find anything on the MITI website about the Committee either so I’m guessing they are currently working really hard to make sure stakeholders don’t know they exist… The responsible Minister (Jayasiri) has publically stated they are working towards a 2018 ratification date.

    The above legal process is complicated by a serious of domestic political issues. As a result of the US DoJ investigation into the 1MDB scandal here (which DoJ has labelled the ‘biggest kleptocracy case of all time’) it seems that US is falling out of favour with Najib and vice-versa. On the one hand Malaysia is following the Philippines’ lead and letting itself willingly be sucked into China’s orbit ( Najib met with Xi Jinping and 14 MoUs have been announced, including a number of major Chinese-financed infrastructure projects. There were already rumours flying about using inflated debt-funded infrastructure projects to secretly recapitalise 1MDB and have the Malaysian people foot the bill (with interest), although they are still unsubstantiated at this stage.

    At the same time there is pressure in the US from powerful figures to pull away from Malaysia and Najib. Some of the Podesta emails mention Soros scalding Obama for dealing with Najib (

    In other words, things are looking clear. Few nations (besides NZ) are willing to jump before the US does, and every day of delay brings with it further doubt.

  6. Tim Grosser is being rewarded with the Warshington NZ Ambassordorship now that Mike Moore is retiring. Both U$ vassal sell outs! 🙁

    • funny how they say we cant have state houses for life but they are setting themselves and there colleagues up for life with jobs for the boys bloody hypocrites this government (gnats)

  7. “Nothing to see here, move along and look back on it after the next election”

    Donald Trump is a reasonable man, with nothing to fear and nothing to hide from him. New Zealand is a right-leaning democracy, which absolutely fits with his economic philosophy.

    I’m sure he will look favorably on us, because we do not have many Mexicans here. If push came to shove, New Zealand could facilitate his wall programme, with Aotearoa’s many unemployed. We could cheaply transport our unemployed to assist with Trump’s Mexican wall-build.

    Quid pro quo. Donald may not favour TPPA, but he knows a mutually beneficial deal when he sees one.

  8. David See-More said;

    “New Zealand is a right-leaning democracy, which absolutely fits with his economic philosophy”

    Are you joking!!!

    NZ is a dictatorship haven’t you woken up yet???? .

  9. I’m, as usual, amazed by your commitment @ Prof Kelsey. Respect.

    I do, however, wonder if the fight should be taken to the very ( black ) heart of the TPP issue?

    The Banks.

    They’re the ones pushing from behind, under and beside. They’re the ones who lurk in the shadows watching their minions do their dirty work.
    Our Foul Four are a collaboration of, some might argue, evil.
    The Dark Siders use ‘ money’ to leverage a power-superiority over us for shits and giggles and a new Aston Martin would be the sweetener for the beautiful Exec’s.

    The Banks are our base line enemy. They cause terrible harm in every society they become dominant within.

    Ask yourself? What can be done about the Banks and their reign of rort?
    Can they be got rid of?
    If so, then how?
    And if so, then now what?
    4.3 million NZ people on a combined land area the size of the UK.
    NZ = rich in vital resources i.e. Clean water, fertile lands and oceans.
    Would we survive in the absence of the scourge that is the banks once all mortgage debt is wiped and all money pimps have been expunged?
    How would we cope once our resources and services were re nationalised so as we could use them freely and without prejudice?
    How would we go out of an evening to a play or a film and not have to avert our eyes away from those starving and homeless lost souls bedding down in the gutters?
    The TPPA is a symptom. Not the disease.
    The Banks. They’re the enemy.

    • Before anyone accuses CountryBoy of some kind of “anti-semitic conspiracy theory” for pointing out the role of the banks in all this (this strawman was used a lot during Occupy to shout down structural critiques of the banking system), just consider what we’ve learned about the way the multinational banks funnel capital into fossil fuel projects like the Dakota Access Pipeline (see the Yes! magazine article by Bill McKibben). Regardless of the ethnicity (or religion) of any person involved in the banking industry, the banks are the beating heart of the ecocidal industrial system. Changing the way investment works (eg peer-to-peer lending, savings pools, crowdfunding) is as important as changing the way international trade works (eg restoring local sovereignty, moving structural barriers to economic relocalization).

  10. The disastrous trends that have been building over recent decades seem to be reaching crisis point, especially in America.

    WTI is trading at below $45 a barrel, which extinguishes profitability for a lot of US oil extraction, and especially high-cost fracking (as is the case in NZ, of course). And Brent is trading not much higher, resulting in lack of profitability for numerous companies around the world. Meanwhile, New Zealanders carry on guzzling fuel, blissfully unaware of everything, including the Abrupt Climate Change they are promoting.

    The California drought has not gone away (now in its sixth year), and drought is re-emerging in the southeast, plus, of all places, the northeast, whilst there are pockets of unusual dryness across much of America. This could portend the end of industrial agriculture in the US, amongst other things.

    Wouldn’t it be ironic that, having forced through yet another trade deal that will cause faster degradation of the environment, America becomes a major early casualty of Abrupt Climate Change.

    And wouldn’t it be ironic that, having foisted petroleum consumption and car culture on the rest of the world, America becomes the first major nation to collapse as a consequence of over-consumption of petroleum and the completely mad car culture that goes with it.

    We can hardly wait for the next installment of the ongoing disaster that America has morphed into.

    It’s such a pity that stupid, ignorant New Zealanders still think America is a ‘great nation’ and still continue to celebrate American stupidity, with the government of John Key leading the way, of course.

  11. Thanks Jane for the information update.
    As someone who has never voted National, this ramming through of the TPP makes my blood boil – especially when THEY KNOW the majority of New Zealanders oppose it. As suggested in other blogs, yes it is very dictorial behaviour – the whole process has been as such.
    With a Trump or Clinton presidency looming, I cannot foresee any good coming from the US in the near future. My only hope is New Zealanders ( ignore all the bribes ) see JK and his cronies for what they are and vote them out in 2017. I know it won’t solve the problem, but it will certainly help.

  12. The timeline is designed purely to send a message to Washington that….. the New Zealand government is begging, pleading, and out-right whimpering to be f***ed up the arse by U.S. corporations. “Please! We have land, we have sheep! Take it all, we’ll suppress the population for you! Please! Please! Touch me! Colonize me! PLEASE!”

    (Sorry for the metaphor, but the situation is sickening.)

  13. Typically National interprets lack of submissions as evidence that most people are happy with the deal.
    Self delusions abound with this government.

  14. Relax. The TPPA has zero chance in the present climate in the States. Trump is all about trade barriers and Hillary has to start mending fences.

    No, you can all celebrate as we usher in a new age where we are forced to sign up for the CTPEE. (Chinese Trans-Pacific Economic Empire).

    That’ll certainly give the corporations and the banks and our economic independence one in the eye!

    • I wouldn’t be at all surprised if either of them (Trump or Clinton) tinker with the draft, then re-present the TPPA to Congress as an improved trade deal;

      “There. It’s all fixed,” said Trump-Clinton, to his/her gobsmacked supporters.

      If the TAB is taking bets, I’ll put a hundred bucks on it.

      • Trump wins. Clinton Foundation emails blow elite out of the water who exit stage left thru Nazi Antarctica base to their Black Ops site on Mars courtesy of free flights from US Secret Space Programme or maybe Solar Wardens; TPPA amended by Chinese who already own US; and NZ continues on pretending the world just is what we see.

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