TPPA – Jacinda Ardern’s foreshore and seabed moment

By   /   November 6, 2017  /   20 Comments

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It’s like watching a car crash in slow motion.

It’s like watching a car crash in slow motion.

Jacinda Ardern driving the battered vehicle of the New Zealand state, fuelled and powered by corporate henchmen and steered by their political representatives, down the narrow, one-way street of neo-liberal capitalism into another brick wall. It will emerge, more battered and shattered, with the chassis crumpled but most importantly for its corporate pit crew, it will be barely roadworthy. This act of self-destruction by Ardern will lower the barriers to further corporate plunder of the New Zealand economy.

Labour has always supported the TPPA but in the face of mounting public opposition it attacked the secrecy around the negotiations rather than the agreement itself. Under leader Andrew Little, Labour said it wanted to change the agreement to allow it to stop foreign speculators from buying New Zealand homes. But this was the extent of their criticism. In the background was Labour MP Phil Goff (the most right-wing Labour MP since Roger Douglas resigned) who was being kept informed of progress in the negotiations by National’s Tim Groser and carried the official “we support this” line.

(Daily Blog readers will remember Labour gave Goff permission to cross the floor in support of legislation backing the TPPA while Labour flustered about foreign house buyers)

Labour says it supports free trade and therefore supports the TPPA. But it’s not a free trade agreement. It is a bill of rights for foreign corporations to loot national economies. The economic benefit to New Zealand is just a billion dollars per annum by 2030.

Labour has defined its opposition to TPPA on the basis of stopping foreign speculators buying New Zealand homes. In doing so it ignores the neo-liberal project the agreement represents. It ignores the threats to New Zealand’s ability to regulate our economy in future. It sets aside concerns about the ISDS (Investor State Disputes Settlement) process whereby foreign corporations can sue the New Zealand government if laws are passed which, directly or indirectly, constrain corporate profits.

Such is the level of public opposition to this extension of power to foreign corporations that should Ardern carry on sleepwalking to the signing the TPPA it will forever blight her Prime Ministership.

It’s unfortunate for her that it has come so early in her leadership but that’s what politics has dished her up.  

This is Jacinda Ardern’s foreshore and seabed moment.

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20 Comments

  1. CLEANGREEN says:

    John,

    This morning I heard Guy Espiner interview Jacinda in a hard set of questios about this event she had with Aussie PM, and Espiner pulled no punches but fired all his questions to her as to what she has agreed to so far on TPPA.

    I think she conveyed that she was not going to agree to aything that would disadvatage the NZ workers ad public noe the bussiness commnity either, so she did make Guyon understand that she was not about to sign TPPA off without vigorious debate on the the sticking points of investor disputes and other issues.

    She is best to use Jane Kelsey to get through those ‘minefields’.

  2. savenz says:

    The problem is that the Kiwi politicians, aka Phil Goff types, are in a time warp – thinking about trade post 2nd world war when nobody could get enough of our products in the UK.

    Times and trade has changed in the post war, post modern, global, multinational world. Kiwi politicians still have not caught up with it.

    They think somehow trade is always beneficial and prepared to sign outside of their knowledge and understanding of all the 1000’s of details that are not trade related. This they leave up to other people who are generally the IYI (intellectual yet idiot class) or just plain opportunistic idiots.

    There is also a massive short term investment rather than per generation – sort of sell everything now and then give a few handouts to the young.

    A year of tertiary study and $10k towards a house while wishing them luck in a foreign owned and effectively operated global banana tax republic under their watch, with a contract job at declining wages, which soon they won’t even have.

    Have a look at what’s going on.

    The Cadbury and Mondelez situation and Silver fern farms
    (http://www.radionz.co.nz/national/programmes/ninetonoon/audio/201843153/business-commentator-rod-oram).
    Foreign owners of Silver Fern Farms ‘failed to deliver’
    http://www.radionz.co.nz/news/political/331008/foreign-owners-of-silver-fern-farms-failed-to-deliver

    This is already happening without TPPA, imagine what’s gonna happen when overseas shareholders start getting even greedier with more profits being demanded by lawyers and opportunistic lawsuits to governments, lower wages, less quality, more pollution and legal battles to boot in special business tribunals with companies that have more money than the NZ government.

    NZ could have sold produce to Russia, but didn’t so the free trade model is not even working as NZ gets more and more tied to alliances and interests that seek to restrict trade not allow it.

    Extension of copywrite duration is something not even considered by the NZ government and media. More and more restrictions on IP and terms in biologics for example.

    The world is moving to open source, more permissive intellectual regimes to foster innovation and keep change flowing, not being locked down by giants in legal battles. In a world of increased automatic it is becoming more critical to allow for more rapid innovation so new jobs can be created. The business Giants see whats coming and they don’t want the change, they want to see zero restrictions to them, compensation for them for change and the most profitable taking all away from smaller players, legally.

    In a small way the legal action against Andrew Little timed for the election, showed what is going to happen under these agreements. Now expressing an opinion can disrupt and bankrupt somebody for years.

    Scare tactics and legal disruption is effective to stop change and TPPA is about stopping change and giving power and maintaining profits to big business and away from governments trying to protect people or just run their country how they want for their own interests. Under democracy governments should have that right.

  3. Sam Sam says:

    Ring fencing China with the same Trade rulz that brought down the Soviet Union is a bad idea. Immigrants can just vote you out. And we’re not fighting the Cold War. We are fighting ourselves. We are our own worst enemy.

  4. Gormless Fool Formerly known as Oleolebiscuitbarrell says:

    This is a new record for the time it has taken for the Left to eat itself. Well done!

    • Wishful thinking much, on your part, Mr Barrell?

      • Richard Christie says:

        I fear that it is not.

        Ardern is poised to knife the Left. TPP is an ultra right wing charter that will permanently entrench 30 years of neoliberal dogma.

        Passing it will mark the beginning of the end for Ardern, she’ll never regain credibility.

        • Sam Sam says:

          I don’t know about that. Sort term wins multiplied by time fits David Parker disc riptide as the minister for trade and other things. If Jacinda Ardern was going to fail. She would have already back peddled on an umber of election promises. To date I’m unaware of any back peddling. You know? She actually campaigned on this stuff. Stoping foreign oligarchs and revisiting treasuries analysis of the TPPA. How ever. The publics appetite for a watered down version of TPP11 is anemic. It would be a sad day to see us come out a protest against the TPP under labour when we should be protesting insupport of New Zealand’s fine tradition of electing female Prime Minister (democracy in lower case?)

          • Richard Christie says:

            I disagree regarding protests, now is exactly the time marches should be mobilised.

            So what if it makes Labour uncomfortable. Poor little dears, suddenly out of their safe place.

            What are you going to say after they’ve rolled and signed away our sovereignty etc?, which she will.

            • Marc says:

              I detect a sensible comment!

              Indeed, NOW is the time to go marching, and organising, to ‘support’ the new government, by sending it clear signals, where it must go.

              That does not mean shouting angrily, it can be positive protesting, and picketing, leafleting and so forth, to REMIND Labour, what some of their voters actually expect to happen, and that that was the reason they helped put Jacinda into government.

              As NZ First was at least some time back very outspoken against the TPPA, and so were the Greens, what can be the problem there, to stand for principles, that is if they have any.

              ONLY if there are people standing up and fighting for a change government, will this one have any chance to actually deliver change.

  5. Tiger Mountain says:

    well put John Minto

    the TPPA is a corporate Pirates Charter, that will rain down a shit storm on the workers of this country, at some stage in the very near future

    this is ‘real politik’ time for those that got the warm fuzzies at Jacinda’s election, of course it is great to see the torys sent packing for a bit, but we have to remember that NZ has operated on a “neo-liberal consensus” since Rogernomics and Ruthanasia for over 30 years now around the Reserve Bank Act, SOEs and free in and out flow of capital

    disrupting and eventually breaking that consensus is the real prize for the political left in the period up to 2020

  6. savenz says:

    The reality is the Jacindamania is also based on a hope that somehow Jacinda will think differently.

    I respect Andrew Little and he has done a lot for the Labour Party and cleared the road for Jacinda with the strategic alliances that he brokered. BUT Andrew Little like Phil Goff has a certain naivety and complacence of the status quo of old in particular around security and trade agreements.

    I remember an interviewer asking Little about National’s GBSC security review and he replied that he was fine with it, as he trusted Cullen.

    Nope – Oking something so important is old boys club thinking and complacent. If you were a lawyer could your argument really be, A person I knew told me he thought it was OK and on the basis of that I proceeded into accepting something and did no further investigation to the consequences or explore other solutions?

    It is better to do nothing than proceed on something deeply flawed and hope somehow it’s going to be OK. Because it’s not ok. The whole west and democracy is imploding because of stupid thinking that has become the norm.

  7. David Stone says:

    The term “Free Trade Agreement” is the first lie.
    A free trade agreement would require one line; “The undersigned nations agree to trade freely among themselves”.
    The TTPA and similar agreements might be trade agreements , but they are agreed rules under which trade will be allowed , not free trade, and I think people who are critical of them should not be sucked in to the “free trade” deception. Free trade would be a very different thing.
    D J S

  8. Draco T Bastard says:

    Thing is, NZers have always been against the general opening up of our borders that these FTAs represent. They understand that you can’t have ‘free-trade’ when one nation keeps its currency low, when the workers rights aren’t protected to the same degree and neither is the environment.

    It’s far better for each country to set some standards and tell every other nation that they must meet or exceed those standards before trade can happen. And that is actually free trade. There’s not force involved in either direction and there’s no corporations waiting to sue as soon as they can for better profits than what they’d get actually producing something.

    If Labour actually supported free-trade they’d bee pulling us out of every FTA and the WTO and the World bank and the IMF etcetera as all of those organisations are about enforcing the vision of the capitalists onto the nations and that only ever results in higher poverty and lower development – as Africa learned to its cost.

    • Sam Sam says:

      some things I know will be around in 50 years. Banks, finance, payday lenders, beneficiaries, mortgages, student debt, credit card debt. And the behind the scenes lobbiest that give politicians cash for access. Today known as political donations. TPP is just a cluster of activity in front of the backdrop of banking fraud. Raise interest rates and this cheap credit becomes harder to service and maybe we limit the ability of investors who didn’t save to tick up the family home. And work for it.

  9. Black Lemming says:

    TPP IS A DOG —-Jacinda Adern 6 nov 2017 RNZ

    On RNZ morning report today when pushed by Guyon Espiner, Jacinda actually described the current TPP as “a Dog” , blamed National for not standing strong , and was on the front foot to tackle the ISDS provisions to get a fairer outcome for NZ and other countries.One of the the most positive things I have heard her say to date.

    Whether this is just window dressing is hard to tell but the intonation in her voice seemed genuine and that of David Parker.

    There is a potential compromise with ISDS , in that it comprises two parts .

    Compensation for Direct Expropriation ,

    (where a Govt confiscates private assets like a privately owned oil refinery .With only a few claims historically .)

    or Compensation for Indirect Expropriation ,

    This allows corporations to sue for a loss of current or future profits should a new Govt policy reduced their market share or profitability .( eg a soda tax on soft drink which reduces sales and profits .)The overwhelming bulk of claims over the past 10 years and hugely expensive to smaller countries.

    The deal would be ,retaining compensation for ISDS Direct Expropriation , (as it is extremely unlikely NZ as a 1st world democracy would nationalize private assets) , provided…..

    the compensation for ” ISDS Indirect Expropriation ” was eliminated so corporations could no longer sue our Govt if a change in policy reduced current or future profits .

    Indirect expropriation under ISDS is the super nasty core of TPP and has to go.

    It well may be that other smaller countries in TPP -11 will back NZs call to renegotiate ISDS as they also face legal cases with compensation costs to corporations amounting to hundreds of millions of dollars .It will not be an easy job .

    The forerunners to TPP ,North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA )and the Central America Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA ) use the same ISDS clauses in all three agreements and they are littered with small south american countries being sued , with significant impacts to their ability to protect their own people , environment , workers rights and public health .

    My preference is that TPP is so deeply flawed the whole thing should be dumped for good , but if Labour is prepared to fight on ISDS this shows some progress .

    Good words from John Minto , and very timely as we head towards Apec.

    Prof Kelsy and all those opposed to corporate rule need to reboot the media over the next two weeks and rally the troops .

    No Way TPPA.

  10. Danyl Strype says:

    How about we have a series of public meetings and put together a PPPA (Pacific People’s Partnership Agreement) as a replacement for the TPP? We could put in specific requests like:
    * all importers bringing goods or services into Aotearoa must guarantee that the workers involved in producing them are paid the NZ minimum wage (or higher)
    * copyright law only applies to commercial use, with the onus on those taking legal action to prove that a use is commercial
    * any company selling data-related services in Aotearoa must make all the source code for all software used in their services available as free code, so it can be independently audited
    * computer hardware imported into Aotearoa must have full specifications available, and give buyers full admin access to the software, so that buyers here can make full use of their right to repair, and their right to replace the software on hardware they own
    * drug patents in Aotearoa cannot be enforced on any medicine that was created partly or entirely through publicly funded research

  11. richarquis says:

    Have you been eating Mike Hoskings’ cookies? Give the girl a chance to prove herself before you start knocking her down.

  12. Andrewo says:

    STOP PRESS: It looks like Jacinda has already folded 🙂