GUEST BLOG: Oliver Hailes – Never again! Sign our TPPA petition to change the process


The concerned Kiwis who marched in the streets of Auckland against the last TPPA signing ceremony have been caught off guard by the Government’s sudden U-turn. But this week, as Trade Minister David Parker heads to Chile to sign his name, we’ll be handing over a parliamentary petition with thousands of signatures calling for a democratic overhaul of how we negotiate trade, investment and economic integration agreements.

Never again will we be kept in the dark while technocrats trade away control over our future. 

Please sign and share at

One of my tasks as spokesperson for It’s Our Future, New Zealand’s network of opponents to the TPPA and other anti-democratic treaties, is to monitor the comments of our 22,000 Facebook members. It shouldn’t surprise Labour and NZ First that fiery remarks are flowing in from their disgruntled former voters. Many of these people cannot believe they’re actually thinking about supporting the Greens in 2020. The Coalition should be getting nervous.

National MP and former Trade Minister Todd McClay summed up the state of play in the House last Wednesday: 

“The reason that the Labour and NZ First Government feel anxious about this is that there are pictures of them up and down the country over a long period of time campaigning and protesting against an agreement of 6,000 pages, and they turn up in this House today saying that they’ve fixed it with about two pages’ worth of changes, and the Minister knows that so very, very well.”

Labour and NZ First voters “didn’t see through the façade”, McClay explained. “There are so many tens of thousands of New Zealanders that are losing faith with them because they believed them.”

Indeed, despite the dazzling rebrand and sophisticated spin, people throughout Aotearoa are beginning to realise that the only substantive changes to the TPPA are contained in what ACT Party MP David Seymour called a “cover letter”, which suspends only 22 out of the more than 1,000 provisions.

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As any teacher knows, a suspension is not the same as an expulsion. These provisions are to be used as bargaining chips to entice the United States back into the trading bloc, so we’re bound to see the nasty rules extending copyright and biological patents creep back in before too long.

Beyond that, nothing’s really changed. Foreign investors can still sue us for billions if we significantly erode their profits by regulating in the interests of workers, public health and the environment, despite the Government’s claims that such measures can‘t be challenged. Parker likes to point at the boilerplate safeguards that might appear to preserve our right to regulate for public welfare objectives, but these are notoriously fuzzy and full of investor-friendly ambiguities ripe for exploitation by clever lawyers in costly ISDS proceedings.

As the global economy’s moving from Big Oil to Big Data, the TPPA threatens to place a frightening price tag on pursuing the policies we need to get out of last century’s fossil-fuelled economy. At the same time, it prevents public oversight of this century’s digital economy by empowering the multinational corporations who hoard data and intellectual property, control the global tech infrastructure and avoid paying their fair share of tax.

All at the expense of voters, workers, consumers, local businesses, taxpayers, patients and their environment 

And for only a trifling increase in GDP of 0.3 to 1.0% by the time it’s fully implemented in 2038.

In short, the Labour Party is setting us up for exactly the same text it said it couldn’t support because “we stand for democracy”.

We concede that Labour has met one of it five bottom lines: protecting New Zealand’s ability to restrict the foreign purchase of residential property. Ironically, they didn’t change anything to do that. Parker has trumpeted the housing success, but that has been achieved only through urgent amendments to the Overseas Investment Act 2005 prior to signing. In the same way, they plan to redefine forestry cutting rights as “sensitive land” so they can restrict foreign buyers. However, the way they’ve managed to resolve this by rushing legislation through before TPPA comes into force, simply affirms that New Zealand is going to give up important aspects of its economic sovereignty.

Don’t you miss the good old days when it was the multinational corporations who had to look for technicalities and legal loopholes, rather than democratically elected governments?

The Green Party shares our concerns. Golriz Ghahraman was the only voice in the parliamentary debate who challenged the Government’s sudden shift in policy: “We need to make trade fair and fit to serve our needs in the 21st century, instead of ceding sovereignty to foreign investors.”

We tautoko those words, which is why we’re still collecting signatures to let the Government know that we do not consent to the TPPA and that Parliament must reform its Standing Orders to increase democratic oversight of future treaty negotiations.

Beyond the signing ceremony in Chile, it’s far from over.

There remains a process prior to ratification whereby the Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade select committee must examine the text alongside the National Interest Analysis prepared by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade and, most importantly, hear public submissions. The Government must also pass fresh implementation legislation, for which there will be parliamentary debates.

It is now incumbent on voices of opposition inside and outside Parliament to challenge this rotten deal. At the very least, we must put pressure on Labour and NZ First to follow through on their promise to undertake an independent cost-benefit analysis for different sectoral impacts, such as employment, climate change and public health, rather than racing through to ratification like the former National Government.

Last week a poll commissioned by ActionStation confirmed that 75% of New Zealanders still want that independent analysis before signing up.

There’s still time for us to flex our collective muscle against the TPPA.

Moreover, there are plenty of power grabs in the pipeline: the Regional Comprehensive and Economic Partnership (RCEP), which includes India, China and the ASEAN countries; updates to the free trade agreements with China and Singapore; a trade and investment agreement with the European Union and the United Kingdom; and Winston Peters seeks to reopen trade talks with Russia, Kazakhstan and Belarus, which were suspended due to international sanctions and human rights concerns following Russia’s 2014 invasion of the Crimea.

If you didn’t know about these impending agreements, then that’s exactly why we need to change the way we go about New Zealand’s negotiation process.

Please sign and share the petition and come along to protests on Thursday 8 March in Christchurch at 1.00 pm and midday outside Parliament in Wellington.


Oliver Hailes is the itsourfuture spokesperson


  1. Well – I will be at Parliament on Thursday, despite the fact that most Kiwi’s have either run out of steam on this or are completely bamboozled by Minister Parker’s assurances, and am more than disappointed in our government, in fact, bloody furious with them. I will present yet another submission, hopefully along with a lot of other angry Kiwi’s. This time instead of only presenting I will be asking questions of the select committee – whether that’s protocol or not I have no idea and no longer care. MP’s are supposed to represent us – it would appear the whole lot of them have lost their way and need a kick up the jacksie.

  2. ‘following Russia’s 2014 invasion of the Crimea.’

    Why do we get nonsense like this repeated over and over again?

    Russia did not ‘invade’ Crimea in 2014: the people of Crimea (Russian-speaking) decided they did not want to be part of the fascist state that Ukraine had become (under US sponsorship) and, after breaking away from Kiev, voted to return to union with Russia -which it had been part of since the time of Catherine the Great, and was only relatively recently shifted into Ukraine for reasons of population and industry.

    On the matter of the article in general, politicians do not respond to petitions: they just ignore them and carry on with whatever has been planned by the psychotic sociopaths that control the system.

    Politicians do take note of mass protests if they are big enough, and think hard about reducing the opportunities for people to protest.

    When thinking of politics in general, it is wise to understand the ground rules: policies are based on mantra, not facts; there is no responsibility; there is no accountability.

    • Agreed the Crimean referendum was a legitimate expression of self determination – see recent statement by Alfred de Zayas United Nations Independent Expert on the Promotion of a Democratic and Equitable International Order: extracted text;

      Another case concerns the separation of the Crimea from the Ukraine by virtue of a referendum and a unilateral declaration of independence by the Crimean Parliament. Although this expression of self-determination with explicit reference to the Kosovo precedent did not receive international recognition, Crimean independence was followed by another act of self-determination – its formal application for reunification with Russia, which was granted by the Russian Duma on 20 March 2014 and held to be constitutional by the Russian Constitutional Court. With or without international recognition, the Crimean people are today Russian citizens. It is not conceivable that Crimea will ever be separated from Russia, except through a major international war, a highly unlikely scenario.

      Whether some political leaders in the world like it or not, de facto states can and do assert democratic legitimacy, since their populations have acted in pursuance of the right of self-determination, and are entitled to the full protection of the international human rights treaty regime. A solution to the impasse can only be through peaceful negotiation, since the use of armed force against self-determination would violate numerous international treaties, including the UN Charter, the human rights Covenants, and the Geneva Red Cross Conventions. It would be the ultima irratio. It is important to underline that there are no “legal black holes” when it comes to human rights, and that the human rights treaty regime prevails in conflict zones and the populations of all de facto States enjoy protection under the customary international law of human rights.

  3. If you truly stand for democracy, perhaps you may want to re-direct all of your time and energy to divorcing No Zealand completely from “our” relationship with Earth’s largest dictatorship bar none: China. The truth exists, even when you ignore it.

  4. In the absence of a binding referendum on such an important matter, I hope the Greens bring down this collation Government if they show they’re on a path of non-retractable steps towards signing the TPPA (and whatever it is called nowadays to hide the fact).

  5. 1.The long term answer to both NZF and Labour who have gone directly against the wishes of their own voters on TPP, is to employ a form of” direct democracy “, similar to the swiss public referendum system ,in an evolved MMP system along with a written constitution .This will put the power back in the hands of the people and MFAT can go screw themselves .

    We the people can vote in medical canabis , or throw out TPPA and the politicans will be forced to implement the people’s reform .WE can also vote in whats better for people and the planet once we evolve the new normal .

    Currently most top politicians are owned or heavily influenced by powerful elites who control the legislative adjenda and the private media, but regular peoples referendums can take that power back .

    2. The current TPP still allows for the accelerated mining , transportation and burning of fossil fuels which is an increasing threat to humanity and is in direct opposition to the Paris Climate Accord.

    Its growth growth growth , till the planet dies .

    Its neither progressive nor comprehensive , its ecocide .

    Not all growth is good growth .The world needs a new model of people and planet friendly trade accords , with sustainable economics ,and we need it fast .With direct democracy we can make it real .If its a better model the public will support it and it can be implemented .

    3. It is exciting to see so many ordinary Kiwi’s who are now waking up from David Parkers , MFATS and Jaccindas fairy dust candyfloss spin on TPP in an act of absolute betrayal.
    National put lipstick on the pig ,Labour/NZF has put more lipstick and a wig on the pig ,but its still a pig .75% of Kiwis want an independent inquiry before we sign .Well done NZ .

    You can roll a turd in glitter but it still smells really really bad .

    Whether its blue glitter or red glitter doesn’t really matter its still a turd .What does matter is that Labour and NZF taking our votes and selling us out should only serve to make us more angry and determined.

    Fight on citizens —-NO WAY TPPA .

    Nor do Marches down the street.
    For goodness sake.
    Wake the hell up and get up to speed

    1) Boycott ALL MAINSTREAM MEDIA , esp “Herald”,,
    Radio NZ.. etc (one Entity worldwide)
    2) Boycott ALL popular Magazines (=One Entity owns all)
    2) QUIT shopping at Supermarkets (One Entity Centralised)
    3) DISPOSE of your (CANT DETACH FROM) Cell phones ..One Main Entity
    worldwide. Demand back to Landline phones.

    JUST merely doing these FEW THINGS, will go ONE POSITIVE STEP and take back a bit of Power to people.

    Tragically , however these so SIMPLE things are too “difficult” for majority.

    • I agree completely. @ CASSIE
      There’s no point in trying the same thing while expecting different results.
      And, of course, the corporates plan for that so we will always find ourselves chasing our tails around in circles while they get what they want.
      The most effective, and most bloodless, way of crushing the bastards is to not buy their shit, both metaphorically and literally.
      Direct, farm-to-consumer trading, peer to peer lending, encouraging ‘ maker classes’
      are all useful and worthwhile objectives that’ll put the fear of Christ up the Audi driving flouncer’s that crawl around board room tables trading in shares issued against assets that used to belong to us all. ( Audi’s are great cars BTW. )
      The ‘ show us your txt’ debacle in Wellington some time ago put me off street protesting entirely. It’ll take more than a hippy with a man-bun banging on a drum to slow down the Monsters. ( No disrespect to hippies x )

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