Nationwide Day of Protest Captures Public Attention on TPPA
NZ, Wellington, 8 November 2014 – Wellington basked in a beautiful summers’ day with nary a breeze and only a few clouds in a clear, blue sky. The sort of summer day that we keenly await after months of gloomy autumnal and wintry grey skies, constant dampness, and chilling air. On Saturday, as the bleak months were left behind, approximately two thousand citizens gathered and filled the precinct of Wellington’s Cuba Mall, from one end to the other;
Sandra Gray (in green shirt), Senior Lecturer School of Social and Cultural Studies at Victoria University and National President of the Tertiary Education Union, addressed the growing crowd of assembled Wellingtonians and many others from further afield;
There was a wide assorted of signs, most of which had been hand-made in the traditional Kiwi style of DIY…
… whilst others had been pre-prepared for the event, and handed out to those who wished to make their feelings about the TPPA clear to the government;
Others yet were even more imaginative and colourful – whilst still clear in their opposition to the TPPA;
The marchers made their way through the streets of Wellington’s shopping precinct, behind this banner;
The marchers walked a short distance from Cuba Mall to Wellington’s Civic Centre, an open, paved-space, bordered by the Town Hall, Council Offices, Central Library, and City Gallery;
… and they kept coming;
Until most of the the Civic Square was filled;
Sandra explained why this march had ended at Wellington’s Civic Square instead of Parliament;
A little bit of an explanation as to why we are here and not at Parliament…
Because for a start, they’re not there. Because they’re away doing other things. But, we’re
here because TPPA groups around the country are asking our councils; our local councillors
to actually take a stand, to stand with New Zealanders to oppose the TPPA, to express their
So we’re here to tell the Wellington city Council, the Wellington Regional Council,
Porirua, Hutt, that TPPA NO WAY!
Some macabre street theatre;
The Mana Party’s presence was still very much in evidence;
More not-so-ordinary Wellingtonians, with their home-made placards expressing discontent at government secrecy and signing away our sovereign rights;
This fellow’s message was blunt, short, and very much to-the-point;
The many faces of opposition to National’s ideological crusade to empower multinational corporations at our expense;
Former Green MP and Wellington City Councillor, Sue Kedgley, addressed the protesters;
Ms Kedgley said,
The government is pretending that the Trans pacific partnership is all about
making trade more free. But do not be fooled –the real purpose of the trans
pacific partnership is very simple –it is to give multinational corporations vastly
more power and influence over local and central government so that they can
prevent governments from implementing any policy that might restrict their
investments or lose them money.
In particular, the treaty will give multinational corporations a new right to sue
governments if they introduce any policy or regulation that could lose them
money or affect their investments; and the lawsuits they would bring against our
government, or against local government, would be heard in secret, off shore
tribunals that would bypass our judicial system and override our parliament.
This new right to sue governments would mean that corporations could
endlessly obstruct and delay any new policy they objected to –a capital gains tax,
for example, fracking laws or more stringent food safety laws. You name it.
It would also allow corporations to challenge a raft of existing environmental and
food safety and other regulations that have been made in the public interest, on
the grounds that they amounted to a barrier to trade, should therefore be
It would enable them to argue, for example, that our already pitifully weak food
labelling laws amounted to a barrier to trade, and should be removed.
It would enable them to sue the government if it attempted to tighten our
pitifully weak alcohol laws, on the grounds that this would lose them money.
They could argue that our strong regulations around genetically modified foods
amount to a barrier to trade and should be removed –the list is endless.
Future governments would face the constant threat of expensive litigation from
multinational corporations, and this would make them reluctant to put in place
any policies that multinational corporations objected to.
And we are not talking about some future theoretical threat –it is already
happening around the world, as a result so called free trade agreements like the
Australia is being sued by multinational corporations for introducing plain
packaging on cigarettes.
Canada is being sued by corporations because the Quebec province imposed a
moratorium on fracking. The Mexican government was sued by Cargills when it
tried to limit the import of high fructose corn.
And El Salvador and other Latin American governments are being sued for
refusing to grant mining licenses to various corporations.
This is what would happen to us, if our government signs up to the trans pacific
partnership. Future governments would live under the constant threat of
litigation, and of crippling lawsuits, if it introduced any policy, or passed any law,
that multinational corporations object to.
And so the trans pacific partnership would undermine the ability of our
government, and of local government, to act in the public interest.
It would weaken environmental protection laws, food safety laws, labour laws
and health and safety laws.
It would rig the international economy in favour of multinational corporations
and it would effectively place corporations above sovereign governments and
make multinational corporations more powerful than governments.
That’s why we must oppose it with all our might.
As with all speakers, the audience clapped and cheered. It was evident that the assembled people were well versed in the issues surrounding the TPPA and how it’s clauses might affect us personally, and the future of our country.
In between speakers, singer-entertainer Matt Pike belted out protest songs from the 1960s/70s – songs that seemed even more relevant now, than forty years years ago;
Sandra introduced Ariana, from the Wellington TPPA Action Group;
The TPPA is not free trade. It is slave trade. It is effectively a Bill of Rights for multi-
national corporations like big pharmaceuticals and the oil and gas industry…
Once they they get a strangehold it will be extremely difficult to stop the tidal wave of
oppression from corporate control. We have to stop this TPPA. It is an international
agreement that is [only] a handful of officials in MFAT and the Executive in Cabinet. They can
ratify this agreement and it will be sent to Parliament to be rubber stamped.
It can be ratified and signed off on our behalf without having to go to the whole Parliament
or even a Select Committee.
This is not democracy!
The only way we can stop this is to do actions like this…
We have a twelve point resolution that says to our [local body] Councillors, our elected
representatives, that we want you to sign this to safeguard your ability to act in our public
We call on our elected representatives to make sure that they sign the resolution that will
go to government that says that Don’t you dare sign an agreement that will stop us from being
able to regulate in the public interest!
Ariana pointed out a tent where people were already lining up to sign petitions addressed to Councils in Wellington, Hutt City, Upper Hutt, and Porirua;
The media, in evidence (though Radio NZ under-estimated numbers by a whopping 100%);
Hannah from Oil Free Wellington had this to say on the TPPA;
Hannah embodied the passion of her generation as she explained the dangers of the TPPA,
As you’re well aware the TPPA is not about trade. It’s about corporate control and
having careless powers take control over our workers rights, over our health care,
over our country, and over our environment.
If the TPPA is signed, it means bad news for all us Kiwis who oppose deep sea drilling,
fracking, and all the other methods of fossil fuel extraction.
This is the government that has passed legislation that makes the right to protest at
sea illegal – undercutting a core civil liberty of a democratic society.
Despite the countless numbers of you, and people like you, who have protested on the
streets and at sea to stop deep sea drilling, it still happens.
The National government have classified deep sea drilling as low risk, and clean
technology like solar panels as high risk. This clearly backward thinking is further
proof that the TPPA is not needed here. We have enough trouble keeping our own
government from decimating our environment.
A recent case of Shell’s drilling without permission off our coast with no prosecution
from the EPA shows just how many of these so-called protection institutions, both
international and in New Zealand, are already in corporate pockets.
With the trade partnership in place this will get even worse, as corporate powers
will be legally able to do this and get away with it.
You might have heard about the gold mine lawsuit in Costa Rica. After their
government refused Infinito Gold permission to mine protected land, Infinito then
came back and under a trade agreement like the TPP, sued the country of Costa Rica
for protecting a nature preserve on the basis that it was cutting into their profits.
That there were “violating” their trade agreement with Canada.
This is just one example. Mexico, El Salvador, and Vietnam are just a few more places
who have faced the axe trying to protect their rights and their land.
As you all know deep sea drilling puts our environment at risk. But oil spills are
not the only danger. By allowing deep sea drilling to happen in our waters, we are
allowing the continued use of fossil fuels top exacerbate the effects of climate
Climate change is serious. Hundreds of renowned individuals and well known
organisations around the globe have testified to this and governments like our own
continue to do nothing. We have substantial proof that with an increase in global
temperatures the lives of people worldwide will become significantly harder, with
more natural disasters, droughts, and food shortages to namne a few. In the last
thirtyfour years, globate climate has raised nearly one degree.
And just how many hundred year storms have we had in New Zealand, over the last few
years alone? Tragic events like Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines, 2013. Do you
remember Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, in 2005?
As the human race burns more fossil fuels, we push the climate even closer to
destabilising. Those who will be hit the hardest are those in poor and
non-democratic countries due to their extreme inability to cope with disaster. But
New Zealanders will still face the axe.
The people who want us to sign the TPPA do not care about hardship. They know
none, protected by their filthy money. If the TPPA is signed, we will like see an
increase in drilling, mining, fracking, and other envionmentally devastating
industrial practices. When there are oil spills, pollution, and toxic waste to
deal with the National Government will not help. They have proven themselves
incapable of both caring, and action. And because of the TPPA, those same companies
who cause so much harm will get off scott free, and do it again and again and again.
Oil Free Wellington are absolutely against the TPPA. New Zealanders everywhere are
against the TPPA and together we will not let this happen. We will fight to protect
our rights, our country and our environment.
Next up – Greg Rzesniowiecki (aka gregfullmoon) of the Motueka Renewables and TPP Action;
Greg explained what local bodies around the country had determined on the issue of the TPPA and how it would impact on their communities;
Once again we come together in response to the Free Trade and Investment Agreement
agenda. Those promoting Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA or TPP) aim to
bind us to rules promoting corporation interests. This does not address our needs.
Our needs are for a sustainable and resilient state that protects and enhances
our quality of life. It is plain common sense.
Our civilisation in the West and New Zealand is becoming increasingly greedy and
focused on individual outcomes at the cost of community well-being.
This is clear with Central Government’s removal of the 4 Well-beings from the 2002
Local Government Act purposes in its 2012. The 4 Well-beings required that government’s
purpose was to ensure the social, economic, environmental and cultural well being.
This removal is theft! Consider the implication.
Central Government ignored the submissions of our local government sector, all Councils
who submitted, including the peak body Local Government New Zealand (LGNZ); and the
New Zealand Human Rights Commission. All said to Central Government to leave the well
Why is this done to our Councils and local government sector? The Free Trade Agreement
agenda is all about profit. The 4 well-beings are about beneficial social outcomes.
We TPP Action seek a beneficial social outcome for Aotearoa – New Zealand. Our initiative
was lead by Nelson TPP Action who adopted as a campaign strategy, the TPP policy
formula from Auckland Council. They lobbied their Council, who adopted the policy in July
2013. Motueka Renewables led the lobby before Tasman District Council who made their
decision in March 2014. Then we wrote every Council promoting our TPP policy.
To date Auckland, Nelson, Tasman, Christchurch and Dunedin Councils have supported our
full TPP policy formula. Others have supported variations.
TPP Action have made presentations in public forums to many other Councils; Invercargill
City Council, Southland Regional Council, Clutha District Council, Wellington City
Council, Greater Wellington Regional Council, Kapiti Coast District Council, and Hutt City
Council, where we were part of the formal agenda of that Council’s City Development
Committee agenda item 3a, Thursday 16th October 2014.
The latest news from Napier. Thursday 6th November saw local TPP Action in Napier
present to their City Council. We now wait to see what that council will do with their
request for TPP to be considered formally by the Council.
In addition to this TPP Action in the regions lobbied the following Councils who have
expressed concern about TPP. Greater Wellington Regional, Palmerston North City,
Horizons Regional, Horowhenua District, and Wanganui District Councils have adopted
various TPP policy formulas directing NZ negotiators to look after the Kiwi public interest.
The solution to TPP is an agreement that protects and advances the community’s public
interest. The large South Island councils at Christchurch and Dunedin Cities agree and in
August they both supported our TPP policy formula. The decision at Christchurch was
unanimous and further they requested that Local Government New Zealand (LGNZ) do
likewise. Other councils have indicated that they support LGNZ adopting a TPP policy.
For this to be the correct policy, we actively encourage them to protect and enhance our
interests. We do this by sharing with other communities, informing them and encouraging
them to lobby their councils to agree to our TPP policy.
The current focus is the Wellington region’s councils. TPP Action are working to gain the
support of the; Wellington City, Hutt City and Upper Hutt City, Porirua City, Kapiti Coast
District, and the Greater Wellington Regional Councils. In addition to presenting to
councils we have held public meetings and will be doing more.
New Zealand’s TND negotiators must be made to understand that any deal they negotiate is
a dead duck unless it protects and enhances our public interest. Our TPP policy is the only
story. Only you in community with others, can ensure your interest is protected. Share the
story with everyone.
We hold a vision. A sovereign state acting for the welfare of its inhabitants, seas, waterways
After Greg’s rousing speech, Matt gave another performance with his protest-style songs – this time, “We‘re Not Gonna Take It“. The chorus was perfect for the crowd to join in and the Square shook with the reverberations of,
OH WE’RE NOT GONNA TAKE IT !!
NO, WE AIN’T GONNA TAKE IT !!
OH WE’RE NOT GONNA TAKE IT ANYMORE !!
Overheard from someone in the crowd, “How come there are never any big protests in support of the TPPA”?
Why not indeed. Because these folk seem mightily opposed to it;
After Greg, Gay Keating, member of OraTaiao New Zealand Climate and Health Council advised how proposed trade agreements set regulations into historical concrete, making it almost impossible to respond to new issues and problems as they arise;
Kay’s speech was short – but packed no lesser ‘punch’ for the warnings it contained for us all;
Kia ora koutou Nga Mihi Nui koutou
There’s two different aspect about health.
One is that when you get sick or injured. Really important that we have affordable
healthcare for everyone.
But the other things is that you want to avoid getting sick or injured in the first place.
The TPPA puts both of those sets of things at risk.
We need to start off with protections for a Safe and Healthy environment, covering food,
water, workplace safety. We also need to control dangerous products – everything from
tobacco to making sure of safety standards for baby cots.
Trade agreements threaten health at all of these points.
In terms of Affordable health care, New Zealand’s drug buying agency PHARMAC could get
hit in at least three different ways by TPPA. Clearly, affordable healthcare does not
suit big business. Under TPPA either the drug bill will go up – or only the rich will
be able to afford medicines.
What about keeping safe and well?
Big Tobacco sells a lethal product – but Big Tobacco is using a trade agreement in
Australia trying to keep young people hooked.
Where Big Tobacco goes, Big Junk Food, Big Baby Formula, and Big Alcohol are close behind.
Big Mining makes water too toxic for humans – but Big Mining are using a trade agreement
in Latin America to keep on polluting.
And of course, the most important health threat of our century, way bigger than Ebola,
that’s climate change. Big Fossil Fuel will not be shy to use a trade agreement to keep
on burning carbon.
Don’t just take my word for it – Get a second opinion.
Yesterday the NZ Medical Association published their concern about the trade agreement
and health. Earlier we’ve had the Australian and even the American Medical Associations
say the trade agreement is bad for health.
World Health Organisation say these trade agreements are handcuffs on governments. The
WHO opposes the way agreements that support toxic trade undermine health. These sort
of trade agreements are a health hazard. Doctors, nurses, midwives, health promoters all
say – NO WAY TPPA!
The protest ended on an upbeat, positive note and people crowded around the petition tent. Councils in the Greater Wellington Region would soon be receiving petitions from their citizens.
The campaign against the TPPA – like a previous campaign in the 1980s against atomic weapons – would be shifted to the local level.
TPPA Explained in Three Minutes
Scoop Media: Parliament – Questions and Answers – November 6
NZ Herald: Oil wells drilled without consent – Greens
The Council of Canadians: Message to Canada’s Infinito Gold – Drop your outrageous billion-dollar lawsuit against Costa Rica!
Mainstream media reports
Fairfax Media: Marches against TPPA trade deal
Radio NZ: Thousands of NZers rally against TPPA
TV3 News: Protesters rally against TPPA
TV1 News: Thousands rally against trade agreement
NZ Herald: Thousands gather to protest trade agreement
Previous related blogposts
Facebook: Oil Free Wellington
Website: It’s Our Future
Facebook: Aotearoa is Not for Sale
Facebook: TPPA Action Group – Wellington
On the Left: TPPA – The monster in our future
The Daily Blog: Anti-TPPA march from above
The Standard: Marching in the streets
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This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 10 November 2014
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