GUEST BLOG: Bryan Bruce – Prof. Kelsey’s New year Message


I wasn’t going to write today but last night I received a press release from Prof Jane Kelsey about the fact that the TPPA- minus America ( and now called the CPTPP) went into force yesterday.

It falls to some of us to speak the uncomfortable truth that politicians and those who would control our lives would prefer we ignored. Prof Kelsey is thankfully one of those.

As many of you know she led the fight against the TPPA and continues to speak out against these international agreements because they perpetuate an economic order that does not in fact benefit the many but enhances the privileged position of the few – the money spinners – who want to make money out of money.

Prof Kelsey says we need to find a more progressive alternative to international trade agreements. I whole heartedly agree.We need to trade but in fairness and with fairness.

My own documentary on this theme is unfortunately still a work in progress because I am awaiting the outcome of Brexit which will determine how the next phase of economics in New Zealand might play out and how the rich will get richer and the poor kept poor if we allow our Labour led coalition government to continue down the neoliberal path unchallenged.

I know Minister David Parker has proclaimed that the minor changes to the CPTPP he negotiated on becoming the Trade Minister makes it a much beter agreement. But it doesn’t. Labour’s neoliberalism may have a softer face since the last election , but it is trickle down neoliberalism none the less that panders to the wealthy and keeps the upity lower orders in their financially exploited place.

So this morning I am publishing below Prof Kelsey’s Press complete release, not only because I agree with it but because I fear you may not see this important warning on our mainstream news bulletins

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Here it is:

“Progressive alternatives needed as the failed TPPA model enters into force

‘The Labour-New Zealand First government will be hoping that New Zealanders have got short memories as it celebrates the entry into force of the rebranded Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement, minus the United States,’ says University of Auckland law professor Jane Kelsey.

‘It’s just over a year since they did a u-turn on their opposition to the TPPA and proclaimed a new improved “progressive” deal. No-one really bought the spin, but the politicians clearly calculated the fallout from business if they backed off the deal would be more politically damaging than betraying their support base.’

Professor Kelsey notes the earlier criticisms of the TPPA are as valid now as they always were.

‘Despite the hype about changes that protect future regulation from potentially crippling investment disputes, the governments of Japan, Canada and Singapore refused to sign side-letters that would exclude New Zealand from the investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) regime.’

‘In Opposition, Labour called the economic case that was made for the original deal “flawed”, when the US was still part. The justification is even shoddier now.’

Professor Kelsey recalls that ‘the new government promised us a more balanced, future-focused alternative. Instead, it is celebrating a failed 20th century model that locks New Zealand into low value-added export economy.’

‘New Zealand needs a trade policy that builds on a national economic strategy for the 21st century that support sustainable local businesses and a living wage.’

That was the core economic message from a two-day hui that a number of organisations hosted on an Alternative and Progressive Trade Strategy in Auckland in mid-October.

A new JusTrade website, with presentations from the hui and other research, will be launched in early January. It aims to kick start the debate on genuine alternatives to the TPPA model as the government’s Trade for All Advisory Group belatedly begins its work.

‘While it may be too late to stop this agreement, we can avoid digging ourselves deeper into this counter-productive hole. More importantly, we can create positive momentum towards a new paradigm that addresses the pressing challenges of climate change, precarious work, digital technologies, power asymmetries within and between countries, and the erosion of democracy, sovereignty and te Tiriti.’”


Bryan Bruce is one of NZs most respected documentary makers and public intellectuals who has tirelessly exposed NZs neoliberal economic settings as the main cause for social issues.


  1. Speaking of privilege, that gibbering wall of the usual suspect grey seers…

    When was the last time they took us anywhere nice?

    Never because it’s a talk-shop defense perimeter

  2. Talk is cheap . I wonder if Jane Kelsey has invested any of her money or time in a business and then watched as politicians tinkered with policy which sent their invest down the drain. We are a small island miles from the main markets and need all the help we can get .

    • If you’d ever read and understood anything Jane Kelsey had written you would know that the New, Revised, But wait there’s more, TPPA will not provide help. It will enslave us.

    • “I wonder if Jane Kelsey has invested any of her money or time in a business and then watched as politicians tinkered with policy which sent their invest down the drain”

      So what are you saying? That only wealthy businesspeople have a voice in this issue? That only businesspeople should be heard? And the rest of us should keep quiet? There’s a word for that style of government.

      Ms Kelsey may not have money invested in a business and neither do I. But the TPPA2 affects us all, wealthy or not. When jobs are exported to low wage countries at our expense, thats when we see the rise of demagogues like Donald Trump. Be warned Trevor, Trump isn’t the disease, he is the symptom of a rotten democracy where people’s needs are not met, where the 10% do very well, and the rest of us run to stay in place. All in the name of neo-liberal free trade.

      If a Trump arises here in NZ it was your neo-liberalism that spawned him.

    • TPPA is not about grass roots Kiwi business people. Its focus is large well heeled mutli nationals who don’t like pesky govt regulations. Go read the document if you need any more convincing……

  3. If people in Switzerland can vote on such subjects as whether or not the mosques in Switzerland can have minarets on top or not ( and they voted NO ) then all New Zealanders must surely be involved in deciding the TPPA agreement is something we want our country shackled with or not.

  4. Too late to stop but with decent government its never too late to repeal the odious thing. I hope even die hard Labour voters have finally gotten the message that Labour now have more in common with National and look less and less like a authentic left wing party.

    Its time to focus on left wing parties who opposed this and seek to build new parties that can come to fore and offer people real Socialist alternatives.

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