Labour and the TPPA – not bloody minded enough!

By   /   September 5, 2017  /   14 Comments

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It is now certain that any decisions on the future of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) minus the US will take place after the election. Last week’s meeting of the negotiators from the remaining 11 TPPA countries rebuffed the National government’s wish to proceed with the agreement basically unchanged aside from new provisions for its entry into force.

It is now certain that any decisions on the future of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) minus the US will take place after the election. Last week’s meeting of the negotiators from the remaining 11 TPPA countries rebuffed the National government’s wish to proceed with the agreement basically unchanged aside from new provisions for its entry into force.

They have all agreed to suspend (but not remove) some of the most controversial intellectual property provisions that hiked the price of medicines. Other countries want parts of the actual text and countries’ schedules reopened. Each country has to come back with its wish-list at another meeting in Japan in late September, probably while the New Zealand government is in caretaker mode.

Post-election, a Labour-led government would inherit a poison chalice. But its position to date gives no confidence that Labour will take a stand against the resurrection of the deal, despite the groundswell of opposition from its own core membership. (See the response of the opposition parties to the 10 bottom lines for NZ’s future trade policy at www.itsourfuture.org.nz/ten-demands/).

Jacinda Adern recently defended Labour’s ‘bloody minded’ opposition to the agreement. But its only firm position is an objection to a single, very specific provision in the entire 30-chapter deal: the right to discriminate against foreign purchasers of residential property in the schedule on investment. Does Labour really intend to agree to the TPPA-11 if that minor matter is changed (as it has been in a leaked copy I have of New Zealand’s proposed schedule to the now-suspended Trade in Services Agreement negotiations)?

What about the intellectual property provisions the US insisted on that will hike the price of medicines and put taxpayer money into the pockets of Big Pharma – money Labour will desperately need to upgrade our rundown hospitals and fund primary health care for our poorest communities? To date they will be suspended, but not removed, so they can be reactivated if the US rejoins. If the New Zealand Medical Association can call for those rules to be dropped, surely it’s a safe enough bet for the Labour Party to do so?

Or the investor-state dispute mechanism. David Parker’s position is that Labour would prefer not to have them. Grow a spine! Even Crawford Falconer, the ex-MFAT official who is now the UK’s new free trade negotiator, says it should be dropped from such deals.

Parker also insists that the Treaty of Waitangi exception is the best possible drafting imaginable, and claims the Waitangi Tribunal endorsed it. In fact the Tribunal said: The Crown however goes further and says that nothing in the TPPA will prevent the Crown from meeting its Treaty obligations to Māori. We have some reservations about this. … Our concern is that by qualifying the Treaty exception clause to that aspect of the Treaty relationship which may allow the Crown to adopt or implement measures more favourable to Māori, the full constitutional reach of the Treaty relationship may not be as clearly protected and preserved under the TPPA as it might be. A Labour Party that is pitching to reclaim all the Maori seats can, and must, do better.

So far as I can see Labour has not even called for the government’s new modelling on the TPPA-11 to be made public, despite having pointed to the failings of the initial modelling in its minority report on the original TPPA.

Labour’s leadership needs to go on record before the election with some more detailed and convincing answers to these questions, and its position on other toxic provisions affecting the right to regulate on state-owned enterprises, government procurement, financial services and taxation.

Above all, Labour needs to commit now to a genuine consultation about what position New Zealand should take on the TPPA-11 (given the massive input into the original select committee hearing that was arrogantly ignored); to publish any future mandate it takes into the negotiations (as the EU does in its negotiations); and to support its position with a comprehensive, independent and public cost-benefit analysis. Or does Labour intend to retreat behind the same wall of secrecy as National has in these renegotiations?

Jacinda, Grant, David, anyone in the Labour leadership – can we know your real position on the TPP-11 before the election please?

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14 Comments

  1. Southern Man says:

    Jacinda, Grant, David, anyone in the Labour leadership – can we know your real position on the TPP-11 before the election please?

    There’s no ABSOLUTELY no chance that Labour will declare its position before the election – because it is pro-TPP (both the content and the process), and doesn’t want to risk alienating the majority of New Zealanders who oppose TPP.

    The only safe option is to vote Green.

  2. CLEANGREEN says:

    yes this is true we don’t need more imported rules around our lives and TPPA is just a corporate contrived set of controls over everything we hold as good in our country.

    Labour! grow a backbone please.

  3. Kim dandy says:

    TPP – like the bad smell that just won’t go away! Good grief, do we need to have another large countrywide protest march to draw the attention back to the bad feeling so many New Zealanders have for this treasonist agreement?
    To Anyone from labour reading this – as a voter I am genuinely hoping that a labour lead government will slowly put NZ back on track after National’s 9 year disaster effort. If you seal NZ’s fate by running with the anti-New Zealand document that is the TPP-11 (ffs) I shall not be voting labour again. Ever.

  4. Black Lemming says:

    A timely update from Prof Kelsey to keep the TPPA on the election radar .
    This needs to be a key debate question for all remaining Leaders debates. Currently conspicuous by its absence.

    Neither Hoskings or Gower have raised this in the 1st two major party debates and its vital its back on the agenda ,given the overwhelming public concern 2015/2016/2017.

    While the media have sidestepped TPP, I have heard that It’s Our Future CHCH intend to have a protest TPPA presence at the Stuff Press debate this Thursday. Go the South .

    TPPA proponents thrive on secrecy , so lets crank up the blow torch on the media and keep this alive as an election issue .Getting Prof Kelsey on RNZ or Campbell Live ,to ask why this has been left off the debate question list would be a good start.

    I’m with Kim Dandy, if Labour were to go with TPP-11 ,they would be polling under 24% in no time.No vote from me.

  5. Shona says:

    No one who is truly aware of Labour’s neo liberal philosophy would vote for them. If you want these Blairite scumbags held to account on the TPPA you will vote Green or NZ First . Thanks for putting this up the agenda Jane.

  6. srylands says:

    “Or does Labour intend to retreat behind the same wall of secrecy as National has in these renegotiations?”

    There is no alternative to such secrecy. We would be thrown out. I hope that Labour in Government considers the expert advice it will receive on the benefits of free gods, services, and capital flows. And carries on.

    • Jane Kelsey says:

      There are plenty of alternatives, even within the self-serving secrecy pledge that the countries signed up to (at the US behest). There is no reason why Labour cannot consult on a mandate, conduct an independent and public cost benefit analysis of the options, publish whatever mandate they might settle on, if they do at all, and publish any proposals they intend to table before the proposals have entered into the negotiating arena. They could even, horror or horrors, propose a review of the delegitimising secrecy pact. Other countries are providing information on their negotiations, including draft texts they are tabling – including the EU – so why can’t the TPPA do that too?

      Better still, we could be thrown out. Yet, we would then forego the ‘benefits of free goods, services and capital flows’ you refer to – given they largely illusory in terms of benefits, and seriously outweighed by the multiple and well documents downsides that seems the most sensible thing to do.

      Actually, Srylands, if you are so convinced of those benefits you should be supporting all the above proposals for openness and legitimation to prove your case. It is just so much more convenient to hide behind the shroud of secrecy so you don’t actually have to front up and defend the truth about what a shoddy deal this is for New Zealand (and most other TPPA-11 countries).

      • CLEANGREEN says:

        Would this government ever agree to any deal before conducting “due Diligence” firstly and know how beneficial it is to us all?

        If they do not release a pre-agreed policy then we must assume it does not benefit us and must be scraped and we should with draw from it entirely.

  7. countryboy says:

    They, those corporate fascists ( And are not all Corporates fascist by definition? ) that peddle the stink that is TPPA are, in my humble view, after only one thing from us NZ/ Aotearoans.
    Our country.
    Our entire country.
    NZ=Size of UK.
    NZ=Population of Melbourne AU @ 4.7 mil give or take.
    NZ=Arable soils, water, distance from nutters, rich oceans, lots of trees, LPG, and stuff like that there.
    We’re so beautiful, and so disturbingly, embarrassingly flush with wondrous stuff and things VITAL to survival, so far away from frenzied, gun toting, God bothering fuckwits, so easy to live with and on, so safe… the only thing that bites reliably is a tiny insect. ( No. Not jonk E no more.) The noble sandfly. A dire wee mechanism with a radar for my elbows. How do they know where to bite one where it’s most difficult to scratch? Minute, flying sadists! Thank God they’re not the size of the average Friesian.
    The extremely uncomfortable truth of the matter is several fold.
    Labour, no matter the vague collection of dusty lace and old perfumes they are individually who promise what ever, they’re stained none the less with the dreadful pong of historic lies and deviancies wafting up from the 1980’s. No matter how they scrub and scrub, they can’t get rid of the stink. SIR roger douglas. What a man.
    Ever wondered why Labour don’t come out swinging? Roger douglas cut Labours balls off, that’s why. The rest is a history of lies. Labour and National are both hobbled by a web of lies and deceit involving eye watering swindles which have cost us many generations and billions of dollars.
    That makes NZ/Aotearoa/Paradise incurably vulnerable to common sense and reason and as it stands, only the vile and dishonest can flourish. As we’re seeing.
    Does that then mean we, as a country, are vulnerable to suggestion? Like, TPPA or else?
    Why can’t we just say Fuck the TPPA and close our borders after we kick the Banksters out then pretend we’re not home @ Jane?
    Aw, I don’t want to trade and deal and swindle and sell and make and do and succeed and dominate and win. I don’t wanna….. I just want to lie on a grassy meadow on a sunny day and watch the clouds go by .

  8. Afewknowthetruth says:

    ‘Labour and National are both hobbled by a web of lies and deceit involving eye watering swindles which have cost us many generations and billions of dollars.’

    Absolutely!

    Both Labour and National are business-as-usual parties, not just kowtowing to banks and corporations, and providing opportunists with opportunities for looting and polluting but actually facilitating such things.

    The proof of the pudding is in the eating, as they say, and if Labour does manage to form the core of the next government, expect betrayal, cover-ups and U-turns on what was said before the election.

  9. savenz says:

    If Labour can’t clearly state they will get rid of the TPPA especially investor state dispute and protect NZ citizens from fake food, environmental degradation and 20th century labour and migration agreements that are now creating massive poverty and social disruption in the western worlds while the western governments greedily suck up the short term benefits to them and the economic benefits to a select few, then my party vote will be for the Greens.

  10. Marja Lubeck says:

    There is a stated commitment on page 14 para 3.26 of the Labour PartyPolicy Platform. This document is helpful as it sets out the Party’s values, visions, and priorities for policy.

    https://d3n8a8pro7vhmx.cloudfront.net/nzlabour/pages/3956/attachments/original/1499988195/2017_Policy_Platform_with_2016_conference_changes_-_May_2017_final.pdf?1499988195

  11. graeme pedersen says:

    Labour is committed to ensuring democratic, civil society and public involvement at all stages
    of trade negotiation. While a certain level of confidentiality is required to protect New
    Zealand’s interests, Labour will ensure that full and appropriate use is made of public
    consultations, civil
    14
    society dialogue, parliamentary oversight and public debate before, during and after trade
    negotiations. Labour believes that the public have a right to such involvement.
    3.26 Labour will not negotiate or ratify any trade agreements that allow for foreign investors or
    traders to have special rights to sue under investor state dispute settlement chapters or
    clauses in these agreements, or any other restriction that prevents the NZ Government from
    passing laws in the public interest. Thank You Marja.