Why we must rally to stop this new TPPA Frankenstein


The TPPA rubber hits the road over the next three months. After an about-face on their opposition to the original deal, the Labour and NZ First have spun as hard as they can without even sounding convinced themselves.

They made a pragmatic decision that will have consequences for decades ahead.  Even without the US, the toxic elements of the old TPPA remain intact, with some suspended pending re-entry of the US. Claims that the remaining eleven might refuse to reinstate some of the suspended items in the face of US demands for even greater concessions is pure fantasy.

The government seems intent on signing the TPPA-11 on 8 March in Chile despite widespread general scepticism, and a sense of anger and betrayal among their supporters.

Opposing the signing is crucial for multiple reasons. Even those who are ambivalent about the new TPPA need to challenge the government’s backtracking on this, lest it do the same on other issues of more important to them.

For the many hundreds of thousands who truly care about the TPPA, there are real risks to achieving a progressive future in which neoliberalism is genuinely dead, as the new government has promised on election night.

Trade Minister David Parker and MFAT are running consultations where they push the line that Labour is committed to a new inclusive and progressive agenda – then they try  to justify signing the TPPA. How are we going to realise that agenda with the millstone of the TPPA-11 around the country’s neck?

Their position is fraught with contradictions. It’s great that David Parker can recognise that the privileged rights of foreign investors to sue the government (ISDS) is ‘in a state of flux’ around the world, and believes the system will ‘become less popular over time’. But the latest UNCTAD figures on investment disputes show that foreign investors don’t share that view. Signing New Zealand up to our most expansive set of investor rights ever, at a time when the PM calls it a dog and the trade minister says the regime is in ‘flux’ makes no sense whatsoever.

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Fundamental questions of democracy and sovereignty are also at stake. The secrecy surrounding the new text (which I believe the government genuinely wants to sees released) shows an even greater contempt for democratic scrutiny than the original negotiations. David Parker’s excuse is that the text needs legal scrubbing and translation; but even the much longer previous text was released without scrubbing or translation.

The parliamentary process, which Labour, NZ First and the Greens strongly criticised, also risks being worse. If they sign the deal, it would then be tabled in the House. The Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Committee would call for submissions. But the committee of eight has four National members, including the chair, deputy chair, former trade minister and former foreign minister; the government has four novices to these issues, three from Labour and one from the Greens. Conveniently for NZ First, it is not on the committee. The review of the TPPA-11 can only be a cosmetic exercise. Likewise, National has already said it will supporting the implementing legislation.

Of course, people will make submissions and oppose the agreement and the legislation. But the first step is to stop the government from signing the deal. That requires pressure to put principles before pragmatism from people who feel outraged, but also have the arguments to sustain that outrage.

A round of meetings in Auckland, Wellington, Nelson, Christchurch and Dunedin over the next two weeks aim to give people that information. The Auckland and Wellington meetings feature Laila Harré addressing issues for labour. Burcu Kilic from Public Citizen in the US is a specialist in the impacts on access to affordable medicines and the digital domain. And I will talk about the big picture and debunk the government’s claims. The other meetings will be me along with the great local activists.

Tomorrow, Its Our Future will also launch a petition urging the government not to sign and Parliament to make changes on how agreements are negotiated and adopted in the future.

It would be great if you can come along to the meetings and share the solidarity. If not, the Monday 12 Feb meeting will be webcast live through daily blog.

Join us in person or via the livefeed to ensure that the energy that fuelled the opposition to the TPPA contributes to us achieving a genuinely progressive future.




  1. Deceit, cowardice and betrayal: the dominant aspects of government and governance that we have witnessed over past decades will continue.

  2. This protest should absolutely happen but lets face facts
    Asking Labour to reject the TPPA is a little like asking National to increase taxes for the social good.

    It would be in direct conflict with their core beliefs.

    Labour are a Centrist party.

    Centrism is an ideology just as strong as ideologies of the Left and Right.

    Until voters can get their head around that concept we are doomed to be endlessly disappointed.

    Though our capital gains are safe and we can get cheap stuff from Amazon and the local down the road serves cheap food thanks to cheap labor, and we’ve got UBER…so maybe not that disappointed.

    • All headcanon vs a theory opinion, damn, so much hardcore evidence! I get bodied!!

      Notice how it’s vaguely plausible sounding even though it’s completely wrong. The theory of comparative advantage was created by an economist who based his work off earlier arguments by Adam Smith. Arguments during which Smith calles for free trade between the West and India. Today China’s weight blows all of that calculus out of the window. Regardless of what reality says, protectionism is becoming more and more popular in New Zealand, the USA, UK and abroad. Trump keep blaming foreigners (both via immigration and via free Tradewinds so is New Zealand) for everyone’s economic problems. And May is screwing everything up in the UK brexit bluff. Protectionism will just screw everyone over in the long run because China will buy western technology whether we like it or not.

      Some protectionism will always exist, and can be a good thing. For example, I don’t want to give up on food regulations, even if they favour native producers that are built with them in mind over cheaper foreign alternatives. Generally though, free trade benefits both sides and should be encouraged, and protectionism left only as a side effect of legislation not with the purpose of keeping others out of the market. Free movement of Labour means those from Poorer countries moving to Richer countries and well, the last year show should how much of a terrible idea it is. It’s not just the movement of people, it’s the movement of culture, traditions, beliefs and a viewpoint on the world and unsurprisingly you’ll find that some of those are incompatible to where-ever you’re moving to.

      Free trade is a good thing, but the current system of it is going to go byebye, at least as it is now.

      Because the U.S. won’t want to pay upkeep for Bretton Woods forever, not when its increasingly becoming a larger drain on the U.S. federal budget, and becoming an increasingly smaller segment of U.S. GDP, making the strategic calculus for it harder and harder to justify.

      At which point the current world order of free trade is going to take a nose dive, without the US playing a balancing role keeping the peace in shipping lanes of the world. It suddenly no longer becomes economical, for example, for New Zealand to trade with Asia, Middle East, Europe, if they might go to war with each other, twenty years later.

      Protectionism/trade wars turned the Great Depression from a bad depression into the worst decade of the 20th century excluding the World Wars. Personally I’m not interested in arguing over the merits of free trade itself; what bothers me is all the riders that end up getting attached to trade agreements like TPPA-11, which do things like give large companies special rights and freedoms above all this when they are at the centre of it.

      • Globalism appeals as free exchange between countries, it sounds good and fair and reasonable. But thats not what it is about, or how it works.
        It just breaks dow international barriers to monopolistic multinational companies. So that they are able to exploit the resources both human and physical, of everyone . Gaining advantage from distorted exchange rates into the bargain.
        It isn’t between one nation and another, it’s between all nations and the 0.01%.
        D J S

        • The Adderall ship sailed a long time ago. You should have been trading it back in 2003-2007. Was wild! We all made bucket loads from a company that was planning to sell speed to kids! 😀

  3. Could we have the names of the 4 national members on that select committee , and lobby them to pick up some brownie points by opposing it . OR are they still under the masters party line orders ?
    Thanks for you view on this .

    • The four national members are Simon O’Connor (Tamaki) chair, Mark Mitchell former Nat minister of defence (deputy chair), Gerry Brownlee and Todd McClay, so not much prospect there I’m afraid!

  4. Surely Labour & NZF have done their homework on this, as NZF were vehemently opposed to this agreement previously.

    However John Key and National have already signed the Agreement haven’t they ?

  5. Where is the long term strategy for NZ’s economic resilience to 21st Century trade shock challenges and planetary boundaries/limits to growth ? The TPP’s vision (see Preamble) of “sustainable growth” and “level playing field” is at odds with any rules-based NZ government framework to nudge investment into an equitable and sustainable development track. Would the sky fall down if the PM did not sign on International Womans Day 8th March? Would we then be complicit in any negative impacts on the conditions of work for women in the garment factories etc of TPP partners?

  6. “sustainable growth’

    ‘sustainable development’

    Since the economic system totally ignores energy inputs and totally ignores the consequences of using humungous amounts of fossil fuels it’s all total hogwash.

    Daily CO2
    February 10, 2018: 410.05 ppm
    February 10, 2017: 405.61 ppm

  7. Protests are needed, indeed, as otherwise the public will simply not stay tuned, in this modern day age of constant info inundation, much of it only there to entice people to consume and not think seriously about matters.

    Only by confronting people in the streets, and offering them information the MSM and government will not make available, can their eyes be opened.

    I attended the last protests, when the signing of the former TPPA happened in Auckland, even then, only the hard core attended, most people went about their usual activities, some complained about the traffic disturbances.

    That is the realities we face. I fear the government, having betrayed the voters who oppose the deal, even the one now ‘agreed’ on, will continue to pull the wool over most people’s eyes.

    Jane Kelsey deserves much respect for keeping us informed, few others do.

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