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Labour and NZ First sign up to TPPA – “is this capitalism with a human face”?

17 March 2018 3 comments

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Frankly Speaking Frank Macskasy

 

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“Far too many New Zealanders have come to view today’s capitalism, not as their friend, but as their foe. And they are not all wrong. That is why we believe that capitalism must regain its responsible – its human face. That perception has influenced our negotiations.” – Winston Peters, 19 October 2017

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8 March, Wellington, New Zealand:  As Trade and Export Growth Minister David Parker flew to Chile to  sign the TPPA in Santiago,  around a hundred people gathered in Parliament’s grounds to oppose the Coalition government’s decision to accept the deal;

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Frankly Speaking Frank Macskasy

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The message from speakers and the assembled people was best summed up with this message;

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Frank Macskasy Frankly Speaking

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Grant Brookes, from the New Zealand Nurses Organisation was one of several speakers to address the protest. He was highly critical of the so-called “revised” agreement;

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He said;

“The NZ Nurses organisation objects to this government’s intention to sign the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement in Chile later today. We assert that despite some improvements, the CPTTP is not ready to be signed. Trade Minister David Parker  […]  acknowledges that the deal is not perfect. Speaking on Newshub last week he said he would give it a score of seven out of 10 for New Zealand.

Let’s imagine for one minute that that score is accurate, but what does seven out of ten mean when it comes to your health?

[…]

What if you turned up to the Emergency Department with a serious cut, and you were told you could have stitches to seven tenths of your wound? What does it mean if you were in pain and you were given a treatment that left you 30% sore?”

On 3 March, Minister David Parker was interviewed by Lisa Owen for TV3’s The Nation. He told Ms Owen;

Lisa Owen: Yes, exactly. Scale of 1 to 10 – 10 being out of this galaxy, deal of the century – what grade do you give it?

David Parker: Probably a 7 to good, improved access into Japan, where beef exports have been dropping; they’ve dropped by 38 per cent recently because of Australian competition with lower tariffs. That’ll be fixed. Not an especially good deal for dairy but better than nothing, and relatively more important than it was before the attacks on the World Trade Organization architecture that are happening because of some other countries who seem to want to blow the system up.

Though Parker defended the signing of the agreement, he appeared lukewarm to the deal, adding;

“I don’t think it’s the best trade agreement; that’s why I gave it a seven.”

Parker’s lack of enthusiasm echoed criticisms made by  Grant Brookes at the protest;

“Although there have been improvements, threats to population health and all that sustains it, remain in the text. There are, for example, intellectual property provisions which have been suspended but they are still there, and they could still delay access for new medicines.

The same is true for the Investor State Dispute Settlement provisions. They remain [in] the text. And these privileges benefit multinational corporations over our sovereign and indigenous interests.”

He specifically mentioned;

“The Treaty of Waitangi exception, as it’s called in the text, is not robust enough that indigenous rights are protected and is not consistent with the recommendations of the Waitangi Tribunal. This means that Maori efforts to address health disparities could be undermined.”

Perhaps one of the greatest criticisms of the trade agreement lay in it’s omissions;

“The environment chapter – it doesn’t even mention climate change which the World Health Organisation has called the greatest threat to global health in the 21st century.”

He added;

“The defenders of this deal […] point to possible economic gains, although no one is saying today these are going to be huge.”

Some estimates put any economic benefit to this country at around 1% of New Zealand’s economy – over time.

As if to underscore  Grant’s list of flaws with the TPPA, this protestor listed each one;

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Frankly Speaking Frank Macskasy

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Following Grant was Rick Zwann, from Action Stations;

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Frankly Speaking Frank Macskasy

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Rick pointed out the large number of Labour MPs who had attended anti-TPPA protests in previous years, and who were now nowhere to be seen. He also pointed out some fairly basic flaws in  the process by which National, Labour, and NZ First had signed up to the deal;

“When we did polling around this, 75% of New Zealanders wanted independent analysis of this agreement before it was signed. […] This is an issue that New Zealanders right across the board, no matter what political party they voted for, no matter their age, no matter their backgrounds, they want to know actually what this deal would do and mean for us.

They don’t trust the MFAT analysis that has happened which is basically a re-write of the analysis that happened for the initial agreement […] the analysis that many of the parties who now voting for it, heavily critiqued. It just makes sense that we should have some independent analysis so we’re able to really look at what this deal would mean for us.”

He added;

“It makes sense because if you’re buying a house […] you wouldn’t just trust what the real estate agent is saying. You’d go and get a builder to look at that house and give you an independent report on what that house would actually be like to live in. If you’re going to do that for an investment like a house, why wouldn’t you do that for something as massive as this agreement which affects all parts of our society and all parts of our economy?”

While Labour and NZ First were noticeably “missing in action” from the protest, the one party in Parliament to stay true to it’s pre-election commitments was prominent;

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Frankly Speaking Frank Macskasy

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One thing that can be said about the Greens – they rarely back-track on what they say.

Following Rick, Lisa McLaren spoke for Generation Zero;

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Frankly Speaking Frank Macskasy

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Lisa raised concerns how the TPPA would impact on climate-change legislation currently being drafted by the Coalition government. Her speech was brief but straight to the heart of the matter;

“We’re really lucky because the new government has come in and said they’re going to create this new climate law and they’re going to pass it through next year. In fact it’s being drafted across the road as we speak.

But we’re really concerned about what this new TPP deal will do to this new climate law. What policies are not going to be able to be put in place for future generations to reduce emissions. We’re really, really concerned that there hasn’t been any independent analysis […] We’re calling for the government if they do sign on, to go through that independent process before this deal is ratified. They have the opportunity to do that.”

Lisa raised the very real spectre of future generations being bound by a flawed international agreement;

“Personally, I’m worried about when my kids are in Parliament, I want them to aim for the stars and be the leaders. But I’m really really concerned by what they’re going to be bound by if we don’t get this right. So I’m calling on them to get it right, for my future.”

Other citizens had their messages for the Coalition government;

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Exclusions?

On 9 March, Trade Minister David Parker announced that “side letters” had been signed with five participating nations of the TPPA, prohibiting   investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) lawsuits. The five are;

  • Brunei Darussalam,
  • Malaysia
  • Peru
  • Viet Nam
  • Australia

Parker announced through a Beehive press statement;

I’m pleased we have been able to make so much progress in just a few months. We haven’t been able to get every country on board, but signing letters with this many CPTPP partners is a real achievement.

He added;

A further two countries, Canada and Chile, have joined New Zealand in a declaration that they will use investor-state dispute settlement responsibly.

A cynic (or realist) would immediately want to know the definition of what constitutes “using investor-state dispute settlement responsibly” ?

The real problem is that the TPPA has eleven signatories – not just the five listed above. The others are;

  • Canada
  • Chile
  • Japan
  • Mexico
  • Singapore

Five countries have not agreed to signing “side letters” prohibiting ISDS lawsuits.

It would be a simple matter for a company to relocate it’s Head Office from a signatory-state to a “side letter” (eg, Peru) to a non-signatory state (eg; Mexico).

As Green Party leader James Shaw said on 21 February;

There is the continued existence of the Investor-State Dispute Settlement mechanisms for some countries and that allows large multi-national companies to what we call ‘jurisdiction shop’ and simply locate where they still have that possibility.”

This is precisely what took place in November 2011, when tobacco corporation Philip Morris sued the Australian government to prevent implementation of plain-packaging laws;

Tobacco giant Philip Morris is suing the Australian government over a new law making plain packaging mandatory for cigarettes from December 2012.

Australia’s parliament has passed legislation that means all tobacco will need to be sold in plain olive-brown packets with graphic health warnings.

Canberra said the law was “one of the most momentous public health measures in Australia’s history”.

But Philip Morris Asia  said the move breached a bilateral investment treaty.

It said it had served a notice of arbitration under Australia’s Bilateral Investment Treaty with Hong Kong.

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Philip Morris Asia said it wanted the legislation to be suspended. It said it would ask for compensation for the billions of dollars it said the new law would cost it.

To carry out it’s law-suit under the 1993 Australia-Hong Kong Bilateral Investment Treaty, Philip Morris first had to move it’s registered office from Australia to Hong Kong.

Once that step was accomplished, Philip Morris had the legal right to sue the Australia government using the ISDS provisions of the Australia-Hong Kong Bilateral Investment Treaty. Which it did so in 2011.

After a protracted four year court battle, Philip Morris lost its case. But not before the Australian government spent an estimated A$50 million in taxpayers’ money to defend it’s sovereign right to pass health-related legislation. Philip Morris is resisting paying legal costs incurred by the Australian government.

Now imagine a New Zealand government having to stand up against a billion-dollar corporation and spend tens of millions of taxpayers’ dollars dollars to pass legislation to protect the health of it’s citizens.

If the previous National government’s timidity in the face of it’s own proposed plain-packaging legislation in 2016 was any indication, our own politicians may be extremely “risk averse” when it comes to confronting multi-nationals.

When asked if  National would proceed with plain-packaging legislation in the face of potential billion-dollar lawsuits, then-Dear Leader, John Key responded;

Late last year I asked for advice on that matter, and the advice I got back was that they felt we were on very firm ground and didn’t feel there was really any issues.

“No real issues”? Yet Key was cautious enough to tread carefully on the fear-threat of possible litigation;

It was waiting, and I think the view I initially took was given Australia was in the middle of this court case it probably didn’t make sense for us to embark on that, and then potentially face exactly the same costs for the taxpayer in defending another legal action.

National revealed how risk-averse it was to litigation when it caved in the face of an alleged threat to be sued by Saudi Arabian businessman, Hamood Al Ali Al Khalaf ;

Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully told Parliament that Saudi businessman Hmood Alali Alkhalaf had a potential $20m-$30m lawsuit against the New Zealand Government, after he lost money when a ban on live exports for slaughter was continued.

The Government then spent $11.5m setting up a demonstration farm in the Saudi desert, including a $4m facilitation payment to Alkhalaf.

(Side-note: There is now a very real question hanging over Murray McCully’s assertions that the New Zealand government was in fact facing a multi-million dollar  lawsuit from Al Khalaf . It has been suggested that McCully fabricated or exaggerated the whole story.)

New Zealanders have just cause to doubt whether their own government would have the intestinal fortitude to stand up to a multi-national with deep corporate pockets to launch a lawsuit against us.

We caved in the face of French demands to release two agents convicted of sabotage and murder.

We caved to (apparent) threats from Warner Bros to  move production of The Hobbit to another country. (The threat turned out to be baseless – but it nevertheless succeeded in ‘spooking’ the public.)

We (apparently) caved to demands from a lone Saudi businessman.

And then there was this curious event in June 2013, when the Chinese government may have exerted heavy pressure on the National government over a proposed fta with Taiwan – an island-state it considers a “renegade province”;

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The frightening possibility is that we, the public, might never even know if the threat of litigation under ISDS clauses forced a government-of-the-day to comply with demands from a multi-national.

When it comes to political self-interest and corporate “commercial sensitivity”, we have the makings of a toxic brew of secret back-door machinations.

After all, the entire TPPA negotiation was conducted in secrecy. Not exactly an auspicious start for such a supposedly beneficial trade agreement.

And not exactly a good start for Labour and NZ First.

Postscript

At the protest, Bryan Bruce of “Inside Child Poverty” fame, conducting an interview for his latest  documentary-project;

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Based on his past documentaries exposing poverty, homelessness, and growing inequality, an exposé on the TPPA should prove illuminating for middle New Zealanders.

Thank the gods for independent documentary-makers. It will be refreshing to see an investigative doco on the TPPA, even if ‘sandwiched’ between “reality” tv shows such as  My Kitchen Rules, Real Housewives of Eketahuna, The Block, Survivor ‘Wherever’, etc.

Refreshing indeed, to watch some real reality for a change.

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References

Scoop media:  Peters – Post-Election Announcement Speech

Radio NZ:  New TPP deal signed by NZ in Chile

Scoop media:  The Nation – Lisa Owen interviews David Parker

Radio NZ:  New TPP deal signed by NZ in Chile

Action Station

Generation Zero

Beehive:  New Zealand signs side letters curbing investor-state dispute settlement

Radio NZ:  Greens remain opposed to TPP

BBC:  Philip Morris sues Australia over cigarette packaging

NZDRC: 1993 Australia-Hong Kong Bilateral Investment Treaty

Sydney Morning Herald:  Australia versus Philip Morris. How we took on big tobacco and won

The Guardian: Secrecy over costs in Philip Morris plain packaging case stokes TPP fears

Fairfax media:  Tobacco plain packaging likely to be law by end of year – John Key

Fairfax media:  Govt accused of telling Saudi businessman to sue

Radio NZ:  Saudi sheep deal – MFAT didn’t provide legal advice on lawsuit risk

SBS News: NZ at risk of losing the Hobbit

NZ Herald:  Sir Peter – Actors no threat to Hobbit

NZ Herald:  Strong reaction to damning TV child poverty doco

Additional

It’s our Future

Other Blogposts

The Daily Blog: Let’s be clear – when Labour & NZ First sign the TPPA this week – it will be as cheap traitors for less than 30 pieces of silver

The Daily Blog: Open letter to Trade Minister David Parker

The Standard:  TPPA rally at parliament today

The Standard: March 8 2018 – the TPPA and our nuclear free moment

The Standard:  TPP2 – Electric Boogaloo

Previous related blogposts

Key’s TPPA Falsehoods – “We’ve never, ever been sued” ***up-date ***

Citizens march against TPPA in Wellington, send message to National govt: “Yeah, nah!”

Citizens march against TPPA in Wellington: Did Police hide tasers at TPPA march?

The Mendacities of Mr Key # 15: John Key lies to NZ on consultation and ratification of TPPA

What’s the beef, guv?

Taiwan FTA – Confirmation by TVNZ of China pressuring the Beehive?

Copyright (c) Notice

All images stamped ‘fmacskasy.wordpress.com’ are freely available to be used, with following provisos,

» Use must be for non-commercial purposes.
» Where purpose of use is commercial, a donation to Child Poverty Action Group is requested.
» At all times, images must be used only in context, and not to denigrate individuals or groups.
» Acknowledgement of source is requested.

 

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This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 12 March 2018.

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Trumpwatch: Trump escalates, Putin congratulates

31 December 2016 7 comments

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It started…

It started on 23 December, when President-Elect, Donald Trump made this unexpected, alarming  “tweet”;

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With 115 characters, Donald Trump declared a return to a global nuclear arms race.

It started on 9 November, when Trump – described by BBC journalist 

It started in 1949, when George Orwell’s Nineteen Eightyfour was published,   an  alternative reality of a world ruled by  three totalitarian superpowers, constantly at war with each other;

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It started in 1948, with the beginning of the “Cold War”…

The Scene is set…

Trump’s 23 December “tweet” that the US will resume a build-up of its atomic weapons arsenal should come as no surprise. On 8 September, on the campaign trail, he announced;

“History shows that when America is not prepared is when the danger is greatest. We want to deter, avoid and prevent conflict through our unquestioned military dominance.

I’m gonna build a military that’s gonna be much stronger than it is right now. It’s gonna be so strong, nobody’s gonna mess with us.”

The Military Times assessed Trump’s promised build-up of US forces;

Trump wants an active-duty Army with another 60,000 soldiers in the ranks, an unspecified number of additional sailors to man the 78 ships and submarines he intends to see built in coming years. He wants up to 12,000 more Marines to serve in infantry and tank battalions, and at least another 100 combat aircraft for the Air Force.

If Trump’s administration can accomplish even a portion of this, it could have sweeping effects on rank-and-file military personnel, touching everything from individual advancement opportunities to the number of U.S. troops stationed overseas and overall operational tempo. The scope of growth being suggested would require many more officers and noncommissioned officers, influencing, over the course of several years, how each service recruits, promotes and retains its workforce.

It could reshape how many American troops find themselves assigned to geopolitical hot spots, including the Middle East, Eastern Europe and Southeast Asia. And all of this, in theory, would ease the pace at which service members are deployed or actively preparing to go overseas, which amounts to time away from their homes and families.

Curiously, none of Trump’s hyper-jingoistic election rhetoric seemed to faze Russia’s president, Vladimir Putin. On the contrary, Putin remained zen-like  and complimentary  of the billionaire-turned-politician. In December 2015, Putin was reported in state media, Sputnik, as saying;

“He is a very bright person, talented without any doubt. It is not our business to assess his worthiness, but he is the absolute leader of the presidential race. He says he wants to move to a different level of relations — a fuller, deeper [level] — with Russia, how can we not welcome this? Of course we welcome this.”

Putin’s comments were also reported in Russian state-controlled media, RT News.

A veritable “love-fest” of compliments were exchanged between the two men. A “bro-mance” had obviously developed between the Oligarch and the Billionaire;

Trump: “It is always a great honor to be so nicely complimented by a man so highly respected within his own country and beyond.”

Trump: “He is really very much of a leader. The man has very strong control over his country. Now, it’s a very different system, and I don’t happen to like the system, but certainly in that system he’s been a leader, far more than our president has been a leader.”

Both Putin and leader of the far-right National Front, Marine Le Pen, congratulated Trump on his presidential success.

Their relationship continued, even as Trump ‘tweeted’ on 23 December that the “the United States must greatly strengthen and expand its nuclear capability“.

Putin seeming remained utterly unperturbed at Trump‘s sabre-rattling;

“I was a bit surprised by the statements from some representatives of the current U.S. administration who for some reason started to prove that the U.S. military was the most powerful in the world.

Nobody is arguing with that.

In the course of his election campaign he (Trump) spoke about the necessity of strengthening the U.S. nuclear arsenal, and strengthening the armed forces. There’s nothing unusual here.”

Perhaps because Russia is also considering a build-up of its atomic arsenal, as Putin himself stated on 22 December;

“We need to strengthen the military potential of strategic nuclear forces, especially with missile complexes that can reliably penetrate any existing and prospective missile defence systems.

We must carefully monitor any changes in the balance of power and in the political-military situation in the world, especially along Russian borders, and quickly adapt plans for neutralising threats to our country.”

So Who is the enemy?!

If, as Putin and Trump are at pains to assert, their relationship is on firm, cordial grounds – why the need for a massive modernisation and build-up of both superpower’s military force? A build-up that could cost both nations billions of dollars and rubles?

Who is the enemy?

Relations between Russia (formerly Soviet Union), China, and the US has always been a “balancing act”.  The three have constantly played each other off against each other.

In Nineteen Eightyfour, Orwell took the three-superpower rivalry to its ultimate, destructive, insane conclusion;

On the sixth day of Hate Week, after the processions, the speeches, the shouting, the singing, the banners, the posters, the films, the waxworks, the rolling of drums and squealing of trumpets, the tramp of marching feet, the grinding of the caterpillars of tanks, the roar of massed planes, the booming of guns — after six days of this, when the great orgasm was quivering to its climax and the general hatred of Eurasia had boiled up into such delirium that if the crowd could have got their hands on the 2,000 Eurasian war-criminals who were to be publicly hanged on the last day of the proceedings, they would unquestionably have torn them to pieces — at just this moment it had been announced that Oceania was not after all at war with Eurasia. Oceania was at war with Eastasia. Eurasia was an ally.

There was, of course, no admission that any change had taken place. Merely it became known, with extreme suddenness and everywhere at once, that Eastasia and not Eurasia was the enemy…

[…]

Oceania was at war with Eastasia: Oceania had always been at war with Eastasia.

Our own three super-powers

In 1972, then Republican-president, Richard Nixon made his historical trip to the People’s Republic of China. As History.com portrayed the momentous event;

The American fear of a monolithic communist bloc had been modified, as a war of words—and occasional border conflicts—erupted between the Soviet Union and the PRC in the 1960s. Nixon, and National Security Advisor Henry Kissinger saw a unique opportunity in these circumstances—diplomatic overtures to the PRC might make the Soviet Union more malleable to U.S. policy requests (such as pressuring the North Vietnamese to sign a peace treaty acceptable to the United States). In fact, Nixon was scheduled to travel to meet Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev shortly after completing his visit to China.

Nixon’s trip to China, therefore, was a move calculated to drive an even deeper wedge between the two most significant communist powers. The United States could use closer diplomatic relations with China as leverage in dealing with the Soviets, particularly on the issue of Vietnam. In addition, the United States might be able to make use of the Chinese as a counterweight to North Vietnam. Despite their claims of socialist solidarity, the PRC and North Vietnam were, at best, strongly suspicious allies. As historian Walter LaFeber said, “Instead of using Vietnam to contain China, Nixon concluded that he had better use China to contain Vietnam.” For its part, the PRC was desirous of another ally in its increasingly tense relationship with the Soviet Union and certainly welcomed the possibility of increased U.S.-China trade.

That increased trade eventuated with then-President Jimmy Carter  consenting to  China gaining  a “Most Favoured Nation” in 1980; re-affirmed by Bill Clinton in 1994, and later by George W Bush in 2001.

However, in recent times, China has flexed its military muscle and increased its presence in the South China Sea. This has set it on a collision course with other regional neighbours, as well as the United States;

Chinese expansion in the South China Sea is bringing conflict between Beijing and its neighbours – Japan, South Korea, the Philippines and Vietnam – closer than it has been for decades. Vietnam has fortified several islands it controls, while Japan has been publicly rebuked by Beijing over its ‘interference’ in the sea – most of which China claims. The Philippines has called for “restraint and sobriety” as its own dispute with Beijing rumbles on.

But the South China Sea and a lesser-known spat with Japan over islands near Taiwan has not only brought talk of a regional war in the Pacific to the fore, but raised the prospect of the US being dragged into open warfare with China. Beijing’s expansionism threatens not only the interests of US allies in East Asia but also global trade, given that some 40% of all shipping passes through the disputed area of ocean.

“As horrific as a Sino-US war could be, it cannot be considered implausible,” warned the authors of the RAND Corporations August report, War with China: Thinking through the Unthinkable.

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But in reality US-China relations have been strained for some time, as demonstrated by the scrutiny of Barack Obama’s visit to Hangzhou, where American reporters scuffled with Chinese security staff and Beijing was widely accused of snubbing the US president on his final international visit. Chinese hacking of US companies has been widespread, leading to America’s indictment of five senior Chinese army officers in May 2014.

Meanwhile in the South China Sea and East China Sea, Chinese expansion has come at the expense of major US allies, including Japan. Japan’s ownership of the Senkaku Islands, north of Taiwan, is enshrined in the US-Japan Treaty that was signed after the end of the Second World War. China’s increasingly hostile stance towards its neighbour over the islands risks dragging the US into a conflict between Beijing and Tokyo.

This has already resulted in confrontations  between the two nuclear super-powers;

A U.S. navy destroyer sailed near islands claimed by China in the South China Sea on Friday, drawing a warning from Chinese warships to leave the area.

The U.S. action was the latest attempt to counter what Washington sees as Beijing’s efforts to limit freedom of navigation in the strategic waters, U.S. officials said.

The Chinese Defense Ministry called the move “illegal” and “provocative,” saying that two Chinese warships had warned the U.S. destroyer to leave.

The guided-missile destroyer USS Decatur challenged “excessive maritime claims” near the Paracel Islands, among a string of islets, reefs and shoals over which China has territorial disputes with its neighbors, the officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The latest U.S. patrol, first reported by Reuters, is expected to anger Beijing and could further escalate tensions over the South China Sea. The destroyer sailed within waters claimed by China, close to but not within the 12-nautical-mile territorial limits of the islands, the officials said.

The U.S.  shows little sign in backing down, as Chief of U.S. Naval Operations Admiral, John Richardson, said during a trip to China in July this year;

“The U.S. Navy will continue to conduct routine and lawful operations around the world, including in the South China Sea, in order to protect the rights, freedoms and lawful uses of sea and airspace guaranteed to all. This will not change.”

A spokesperson for the incoming Trump Administration, Sean Spicer was equally belligerent (without specifically mentioning China);

“I think it’s putting every nation on notice that the United States is going to reassert its position in the globe.”

Trump himself has made antagonistic and disparaging remarks about China;

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The CNN report continued;

Trump has repeatedly accused China of manipulating its currency to make its exports more competitive on the global market and has claimed that China is “killing” the U.S. on trade.

Sunday marks the first time in this campaign that Trump has used the term “rape” to refer to what he views as China’s dominance in trade with the U.S.

“We’re going to turn it around. And we have the cards, don’t forget it. We’re like the piggy bank that’s being robbed. We have the cards. We have a lot of power with China,” Trump said Sunday before referring to China’s relationship with the U.S. as rape.

Trump added that he is not “angry at China,” but with U.S. leaders whom he accused of being “grossly incompetent.”

Trump previously claimed in 2011 that “China is raping this country” as he toured a defense manufacturer in New Hampshire.

Many considered the  doomed Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement to be designed to contain China;

From its inception, the TPP has been considered by many as a strategic instrument to isolate or contain China. Given the country’s ambitions, its leaders are understandably concerned about the concerted effort by the U.S. and other Asia-Pacific countries to curtail its economic growth and geopolitical influence.

China’s outsider status could also be seen as an indictment of its inadequacies, such as limited intellectual property protection and a lack of government procurement standards. The exclusion of China not only has caused the country to lose face, but has also provided a painful reminder of its continued struggle to gain an equal status in the international community. Finally, the lack of TPP membership will prevent China from enjoying new tariff reduction and preferential market access. If this regional pact is to operate according to design, it will divert trade and manufacturing from China to TPP members.

Our own expert and campaigner, Jane Kelsey, also remarked on the anti-China nature of the TPPA;

“In the past month both US presidential candidates have positioned the TPP at the centre of their strategy to neutralise China’s ascendancy in what they call the ‘Pacific’ region.

New Zealand already faces the prospect of being piggy in the middle, with potentially conflicting rules and foreign policy pressures from agreements with China and the USA.

Tim Groser is kidding himself if he thinks China will sit quietly by and allow us to play both sides. This is a high-risk game and we need to have an honest debate about its long-term implications for the country.”

Note President Obama’s statements over China’s increasing geo-political influence;

“And we believe China can be a partner, but we’re also sending a very clear signal that America is a Pacific power, that we are going to have a presence there.

We are working with countries in the region to make sure, for example, that ships can pass through, that commerce continues.

And we’re organizing trade relations with countries other than China so that China starts feeling more pressure about meeting basic international standards. That’s the kind of leadership we’ve shown in the region. That’s the kind of leadership that we’ll continue to show.

As part of his populist campaigning this year, Trump publicly rejected the TPPA. This left him to devise other options to “contain China”.

The Trump Deal between Russia and US

The new-found rapprochement between Russia and the US could be based on mutual interest. With Trump’s penchant for deal-making, the U.S. and Russia would have much to gain by stitching together a secret deal.

In return for the U.S. gaining Russian support against growing Chinese influence in the South China Sea, Trump would allow Russia a free hand in supporting its ally, Syria (where U.S.  interests are minimal anyway, unlike the Pacific).

This would explain why the U.S. and Russia have been ‘cosying’ up together.

More critically, it answers the perplexing question as to why Russia seems utterly unperturbed at American plans to build up its military. And why the U.S. seems to have stepped back from taking action over Syria.

Nixon went to China.

Trump may be going to Moscow.

Oceania has always been at war with Russia China.

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References

Twitter: Donald J Trump

BBC: US Election 2016 Results – Five reasons Donald Trump won

Wikipedia: Nineteen Eightyfour

CNN: Trump calls for military spending increase

Military Times: Trump’s military will have more troops and more firepower — if he can find more money

Sputnik: Putin Welcomes Trump’s Words of Readiness to Improve Russia-US Relations

RT News: Putin says ‘talented’ Trump is ‘absolute front-runner,’ welcomes pledge to work with Russia

Business Insider: Here’s a look at what Trump and Putin have said about each other

The Independent: Vladimir Putin congratulates US President Donald Trump as Russian leaders celebrate

RT News: ‘So correct’: Trump responds to Putin’s holiday letter

Reuters: Putin shrugs off Trump’s nuclear plans, says Democrats sore losers

ITV News: Trump and Putin both hint at expansion of nuclear arsenal

Ebook: Ninetween Eightyfour

History: 1972 – Nixon arrives in China for talks

CNN: Clinton Proposes Renewing China’s Most-Favored Trade Status

China.org.cn: Chronology of China-US Relations

The Tech: Clinton Grants China MFN, Reversing Campaign Pledge

International Business Times: Could the South China Sea dispute trigger a Sino-US war?

NY Times: Trump Says U.S. Would ‘Outmatch’ Rivals in a New Nuclear Arms Race

CNN: Trump – ‘We can’t continue to allow China to rape our country’

Fortune: How China’s exclusion from the TPP could hurt its economic growth

It’s Our Future: Obama casts TPP as Challenge to China

Washington Times: Inside the Ring – Obama, Romney on China

Previous related blogposts

Taiwan FTA – Confirmation by TVNZ of China pressuring the Beehive?

The Rise of Great Leader Trump

The Sweet’n’Sour Deliciousness of Irony: Russia accused of meddling in US Election

Protestors condemn Russian involvement in atrocities in Aleppo

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This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 27 December 2016.

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Letter to the editor – give us a chance to vote, Mr Key!

30 June 2016 2 comments

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Frank Macskasy - letters to the editor - Frankly Speaking

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from: Frank Macskasy <fmacskasy@gmail.com>
to: Dominion Post <letters@dompost.co.nz>
date: Mon, Jun 27, 2016
subject: Letter to the editor

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The editor
Dominion Post

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British voters have voted to leave the European Union, and our esteemed Prime Minister, John Key responded statesmanlike;

“This was always a decision for voters in the UK and we respect the decision they have made.”

I wonder if our dear leader will also give New Zealand voters the opportunity to vote in our own binding referendum whether to Remain or Exit the controversial TPPA?

Will Key demonstrate the same respect for New Zealand voters?

I call on John Key to give us a referendum so that we, like our British cousins, can determine our own future.

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-Frank Macskasy

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[address and phone number supplied]

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References

Radio NZ: Brexit’s impact on NZ will be limited – PM

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National MP Mark Mitchell and his breath-taking display of arrogance

18 April 2016 5 comments

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MarkMitchell-banner2

 

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In a recent Radio NZ “Morning Report”  interview, National MP, Mark Mitchell, revealed the government’s true objective with the so-called “TPPA Roadshow” and Parliamentary Select Committee hearings. Behaviour by other Select Committee members has also drawn harsh criticism by some members of the public who attended the sessions.

The Roadshow and Select Committee hearings are being held by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFAT) and  Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Select Committee (respectively)  to seek public submissions on the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement, aka, the TPPA;

More than 330 people have asked to give their views on the controversial trade treaty to the Foreign Affairs, Defence and Committee in person.

The committee will hold hearings in Christchurch on 31 March and 1 April, and in Auckland the following week, before returning to Wellington, where it has already heard some submissions.

Committee chair Mark Mitchell said there would be more than enough time for the hearings.

“I’ve made sure that we allow plenty of time, so that’s going to allow us enough time to be able to hear everyone that wants to make an oral submission to the committee.”

Mitchell,  the Chairperson  of the Select Committee, was defending the shortened reporting time of the Select Committee back to Parliament. As Mei Heron reported for Radio NZ;

MPs have been given just five days to consider hundreds of submissions on the controversial TPP trade deal after the timeframe was drastically cut from four weeks.

The select committee was originally give a month to write its report and present it back to Parliament.

Opposition MPs were furious at the sudden change and they called it an attack on democracy.

The trade deal has already been roundly criticised by its opponents for being too secretive and lacking consultation.

The Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Select Committee had been hearing submissions on the TPP from hundreds of people across the country and that will continue until the end of the month.

But opposition members on the committee say they were told yesterday the government wanted to cut down the time they had to analyse the submissions, so the legislation could get through by the end of the year.

Predictably, Opposition members of the Select Committee expressed dismay and anger at National’s unilateral change of the Committee’s timetable, with  Green MP, Kennedy Graham, roundly condemning the move;

“It’s just a slap of indifference and dismissal of some very sincere, very capable and hard-working New Zealand people. It shows it up for what it is – which is essentially a ‘roadshow’ with a predetermined end.”

Graham’s assertion that the public submission process  “ is essentially a ‘roadshow’ with a predetermined end”, is confirmed after  a startling admission by the Committee’s chairperson, Mark Mitchell. On “Morning Report” on 8 April, Mitchell vented his obvious frustration with the New Zealand public;

@ 3.45

“I think, I think some people are very set in their views. And to be honest with you my feeling is that it doesn’t matter what evidence we provide or how we try to balance the information that could allay those fears, they’re already set in their minds. They’ve decided what position they going to take and it’s going to be very hard to probably move them of that position. But there’s other people that are just genuinely worried about it because there has been some misinformation put into the public debate. And often when they get the full story, and of course the Minister’s done a very comprehensive, um, series, at which he’s continuing to do public meetings throughout the country. I think he’s in excess of about 30 or 35 now. Is that people actually just wanted to have some proper information around the TPP.”

(alt. link)

Mitchell complained that  “it doesn’t matter what evidence we provide or how we try to balance the information that could allay those fears, they’re already set in their minds” and “they’ve decided what position they going to take and it’s going to be very hard to probably move them of that position”.

For perhaps the first time in the history of the Westminster Parliamentary process,  a member of Parliament has suggested that the Select Committee process is no longer a forum where the public offer submissions for their elected representatives to listen and consider. Instead, Mitchell’s comments indicate that Select Committees are now viewed as useful tools for  dissemination of  “proper information around the TPP” for the public and businesses.

A Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade website page appears to echo Mitchell’s views on the purpose  of MFAT’s travelling “Road Shows”;

The Government will run a number of events on key TPP outcomes. These will be aimed at ensuring businesses are able to prepare to take advantage of new opportunities presented by TPP’s entry into force, and to provide information of interest to the wider public and other stakeholders. These events follow the extensive public consultations carried out during TPP negotiations.

[…]

The Government is running TPP roadshows on the outcomes of TPP for New Zealand. Members of the public are welcome. The roadshows will also help businesses prepare to take advantage of new opportunities presented by TPP’s entry into force

However, the agendas  of both the Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Committee’s submission process and  MFAT’s  “Road Shows” is not shared with the Parliamentary Office of the Clerk;

The Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Committee is now calling for public submissions on the TPPA and the four related intellectual property treaties. Each treaty has a national interest analysis which sets out the advantages and disadvantages for New Zealand of becoming a party to it.

You have until Friday 11 March 2016 to share your views about these documents with the parliamentary select committee by making a submission.

The committee will consider the written submissions it receives and they will be posted on the Parliament website when released by the committee.

The committee is also expecting to hear from submitters who wish to speak to their submission. Committee staff will contact those submitters to organise a time for them to speak to the committee. Hearings may take place outside of Wellington depending on the number of submitters from each region.

Mark Mitchell seems not to have received the emailed memo from the House Clerk.

The “Road Shows” have also drawn criticism from the way they have been carefully orchestrated. From a Radio NZ story;

Albert-Eden Local Board member Graeme Easte said the event was more of a show and tell, in which Trade Minister Todd McClay and the senior negotiator described what they were doing.

“It was very much pro the agreement,” Mr Easte said.

“Even though half the questioners were clearly sceptical or anti, there wasn’t really an opportunity for a discussion or a debate.”

A member of the public complained that the “Road Show” was being held at a time guaranteed to minimise public attendance;

One placard holder, a teacher, has slipped away from school and down the road to make that point: “Let’s consult widely with the public. How about on a Monday morning when everyone is at work? Yeah right!”

Blogger, ‘SkepticNZ’, related his experience at the Dunedin Roadshow event;

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Now attending a Roadshow is not as simple as popping along.  In fact in order to attend you have to first register via the MFAT website.
 
The good people at MFAT no doubt in the interest of open debate and inclusion have the following requirement upon interested citizens to gain entry.
 

Please note:

You will need to bring photo ID (e.g. passport or drivers licence) in order to collect your name badge when you attend the roadshow. You may not be permitted entry to the roadshow unless you present photo ID.Entry to the roadshow on the day is entirely at the discretion of the event organizers. Disruptive, threatening or offensive behavior will not be tolerated and may result in you being required to leave the venue.

You must comply with the instructions and directions of the event organizers. You may be required to leave the roadshow if you do not do so.

Right, have you got that? before you can enter Mr McClay’s ‘open debate, informed discussion’ you first have to agree to doing what you are told.
 
Being a curious and dutiful citizen I prepared my identification, completed my registration, and printed off my MFAT confirmation including individual Bar Code, and off I went to the show.
 
On arriving at the Venue in Harrop street, I was greeted by some very friendly people keen to hear my views about the TPPA, and happy to give me information sheets.  But enough about the protesters, onto the front door.
 
The front door itself was guarded by a heavy police presence supported by private security contractors from Amourguard.  A young man from Armourguard asked for my photo ID and then told me I wasn’t on the list and asked me to stand to one side while they check if I could enter.  Which under a watchful Police eye I did.  
 
I didn’t have long to wait before another slightly older young man from Armourguard came to speak to me and ask if I had my registration form, which of course I did.  After a moment of reading my licence, checking my registration , and checking my licence again I was allowed in the door.
 
Hallelujah I haven’t had so much scrutiny to enter a door ever in my life.  Not even as an under age drinker in  the last century, nor  at Passport control at Heathrow, have I ever faced such close observation and suspicion.  Crikey there must be something really really important inside.
 
Inside the door was more police, and more security, and a desk to register to attend the day.  I must say the folks from Orbit (Event Staff) were genuinely friendly and helpful.  In a very short time I was given my ID Card and lanyard and direct to the stair well.  Apparently the Lift was out of order.  This was when yet another Security Officer asked to search my bag.  Being a good citizen I handed my bag over.  Apparently my pen and paper and Banana for morning tea did not constitute dangerous items and I was allow to begin my long climb up the stairs.
 
The climb itself was uneventful except for the presence of Security Personnel on every landing carefully watching our every move to ensure we went were we where supposed to.
 
Upon reaching the top floor I was greeted by even more security staff and a lobby to wait in.  The lobby  contained some MFAT TPPA Fact Sheets and that is about it.
 
After about 10 minutes of standing and being watched we were all allowed to enter the conference room itself.
 
I must admit by now my expectations where very high. After all why have a small army of security guards if there wasn’t something spectacular inside?

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SkepticNZ’s experience is worth reading in it’s entirety.

Another member of the public, Tim O’Shea, who was presenting a submission to the Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Select Committee on 8 April in Auckland, became upset when he realised that “thirty minutes in, and two National MP’s are missing“;

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David Bennet - TPPA select committee hearing

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Acknowledgement: Image courtesy of Tim O’Shea

Tim also complained thatof the three who are here, [National MP] David Bennett… spent more time looking at his smart phone than he has spent listening to oral submissions.” [See image above]

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tim oshea - facebook - select committee comment and photo

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Tim has lodged a formal complaint with the Foreign Affairs Defence Trade Committee chairperson;

“On Thursday I observed that the hearing was well attended by those on the Select Committee, and that all submitters (whether pro or anti the TPPA) were dealt with in a predominantly fair and courteous way. All attending members showed respect for those submitters by making a clear effort to listen to, and look at, the various submitters. The day was a long and busy one – i.e. there were many submissions, and very few unplanned interludes and gaps between the submissions.

On Friday, several submitters expressed their dissatisfaction and disappointment at how few government committee members were in attendance compared to the previous day. I counted just three (including the chairman), compared to five who attended on the Thursday.

That in itself, however, was of less concern to me than the rude, discourteous and totally disrespectful behaviour shown by one of the attending committee members, namely National MP David Barnett.

Despite the fact that the hearing didn’t start until the relatively leisurely time of 10:00am, Mr Barnett clearly felt, as the attached photo that I took at 10:22 shows, that looking at his cell phone was far more important than listening to, or looking at, the first THREE submitters !

It wasn’t until part the way through the third submission that Mr Barnett eventually put his phone down.”

When Tim asked David Barnett “to put his cell phone down for ten minutes to show some courtesy and respect“;

“The chairman, Mark Mitchell told me that I should not address committee members directly in that way, and that the members had other important work to do during the hearing – I responded that I also had work to do, and that the least he could do is listen to me and show some respect.”

Tim added;

“As I continued to the end of my submission, David Barnett showed complete and utter contempt by looking at his cell phone for the whole time that I presented, showing no interest at all, and not even looking up at me. Chairman Mark Mitchell said nothing about it whatsoever.’

The complainant claims that Committee Chairperson, Mark Mitchell then criticised Tim for his “bad behaviour”. According to Tim O’Shea;

“Mr Mitchell then told me that he didn’t like the fact that I stood up to do my submission.”

In an obviously increasingly tense atmosphere, another Select Committee member, Labour’s David Shearer, was allegedly over-heard referring to Tim as an  “arrogant twat”  to fellow-committee member,  Green MP Kennedy Graham.

David Shearer is a known supporter of the TPPA. In January this year, he was censured by Labour-leader Andrew Little for breaking ranks with Labour over the TPPA.

The complaint is on-going.

Whatever purpose the “Road Show” has, it clearly has upset members of the public. According to comments made by Mark Mitchell, and repeated on an MFAT website, Green MP, Kennedy Graham was correct when he condemned the exercise as;

“…essentially a roadshow with a predetermined end.”

Certain MPs  seem to hold the attitude that they are not so much highly-paid civil-servants, elected to represent us  in Parliament – but instead “members [who] had other important work to do”. These MPs forget that they hold office at our pleasure.

The clear perception is that public participation is not welcome at the “TPPA Roadshow” or Select Committee.

The farce surrounding the TPPA continues.

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Appendix1

Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Select Committee Role MP Name Party, Electorate
Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Chairperson Mitchell, Mark National Party, Rodney
Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Deputy-Chairperson Reti, Shane National Party, Whangarei
Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Member Bennett, David National Party, Hamilton East
Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Member Graham, Kennedy Green Party, List
Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Member Muller, Todd National Party, Bay of Plenty
Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Member Ross, Jami-Lee National Party, Botany
Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Member Shearer, David Labour Party, Mt Albert
Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Member Tabuteau , Fletcher NZ First, List
Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Member Tisch, Lindsay National Party, Waikato
Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Member Woods, Megan Labour Party, Wigram

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Appendix2

Trade Minister Todd McClay appears to be labouring under an illusion when said;

“But you’ve got to remember it’s been over seven years or more of negotiation, so not all of that consultation or engagement will be remembered.”

MFAT repeated the fantasy;

These events follow the extensive public consultations carried out during TPP negotiations.

One of the most trenchant criticisms of the TPPA is that there was no public consultation carried out during the negotiations. It was all done in secret.

In fact, Professor Jane Kelsey won a court case on this very issue.

So one has to wonder how Todd McClay and MFAT can make the startling assertions that there was “extensive public consultations carried out during TPP negotiations“.

Too soon to be re-writing recent history, yes?

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Appendix3

National MP, Mark Mitchell, is closely connected with far-right activist,Simon Lusk, who runs (ran?) a private, self-styled “candidates school” for potential National Party candidates. Amongst those National MPs linked to Lusk are Taupo MP Louise Upston, Maungakiekie MP Sam Lotu-Iiga, Napier MP Chris Tremain, disgraced former list MP, Aaron Gilmore, and Minister Judith Collins. (Lusk, in turn, is associated with “Whaleoil’s” Cameron Slater; “Kiwiblog’s” David Farrar; and “Taxpayer Union’s” Jordan Williams.)

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Acknowledgement

To Tim O’Shea, for kind permission to  use his material (images, quotes, etc) and for proof-reading my story to ensure accuracy.

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References

Radio NZ: Over 330 ask to have say on TPP

Parliament: Select committee begins examination of TPPA

Radio NZ: New TPP timeframe an ‘attack on democracy’

Radio NZ: Morning Report – Select committee chair defends shortened TPP timeframe (audio) (alt.link)

Ministry of Foreign Affairs & Trade: Trans-Pacific Partnership – Events

Scoop Media: Select committee begins examination of TPPA

Radio NZ: TPP meeting one-sided, local politician says

The Spinoff: Tea, pee and pecuniary gains – Amid the clowns at the trade deal roadshow

SkepticNZ: Inside the #TPPA Roadshow Experience

Facebook: Tim O’shea – Submission

Facebook: Tim O’Shea – Facebook Post

Fairfax media: David Shearer faces ‘consequences’ for not toeing Labour line on TPPA – Little

NZ Herald: David Shearer to be censured over breaking Labour line on TPP

Parliament: Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Select Committee Members

Radio NZ: TPP requests – Groser acted unlawfully

NZ Herald: National Party had high-level concerns over member’s influence

Fairfax media: Seriously happy to upset the status quo

Bryce Edwards: Invite to Selection Training Weekend

Other bloggers

Bowalley Road: Protecting The TPP

No Right Turn: Government propaganda on the TPPA

The Daily Blog: Josie Butler – Why I attacked the TPPA roadshow

The Standard: TPPA review time slashed

Wheeler’s Corner: TPPA’s Road-show SEAN PLUNKET tongue flaps

Previous related blogposts

Power Struggle in the National Party?!

David Farrar – Challenging Slater for Sultan of Sleaze?

National MP admits collusion with bosses to set up strike-breaking law!!

11 May: End of the Week Bouquets, Brickbats, & Epic Fails

Nats, Lies, and Videotape

The secret of National’s success – revealed

So who’s a “conspiracy theorist” now?!

National’s Ohariu candidate admits contact by Simon Lusk

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Bamboozlement

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This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 13 April 2016.

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Citizens present petition at Governor General’s gate

6 February 2016 6 comments

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we the corporations

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NZ, Wellington, 30 January – Several hundred people met at  Wellington’s  Waitangi Park, to vent their opposition at the impending signing and ratification of the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA);

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Frank Macskasy The Daily Blog Frankly Speaking blog fmacskasy.wordpress.com TPPA protest - governor general - Wellington - 30 January 2016

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On Cable Street footpath, a citizen waved a flag of sovereignty to draw attention to the protest;

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Frank Macskasy The Daily Blog Frankly Speaking blog fmacskasy.wordpress.com TPPA protest - governor general - Wellington - 30 January 2016

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Protest organiser, Greg Rzesniowiecki, discussing  the march-route and other details with Police. There was good co-operation between organisers and police – and this time there was no noticeable carrying or display  of offensive weapons such as tasers by constables;

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Mick McCrohon - TPPA - 30 jan 2016 - petition to governor general (39)

Image used courtesy Mick McCrohon

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“Fats”, giving a mihi to assembled citizens in the park square;

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TPPA - 30 jan 2016 - petition to governor general (6)

 

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Greg Rzesniowiecki, addressing citizens, and explaining that the march would make it’s way peacefully to the Governor General’s residence where the petition would be presented. He said that what was being done today would make history; for the first time, citizens would be making a direct appeal to the Governor General on behalf of the entire country;

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Frank Macskasy The Daily Blog Frankly Speaking blog fmacskasy.wordpress.com TPPA protest - governor general - Wellington - 30 January 2016

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Co-organiser, Ariana, addressing citizens. She advised the crowd that this would be a peaceful protest and that Marshals would be assisting marchers throughout. She said that John Key was desperate to portray anti-TPPA protestors as a “lawless rent-a-crowd” and that “we should not give him that opportunity“;

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Frank Macskasy The Daily Blog Frankly Speaking blog fmacskasy.wordpress.com TPPA protest - governor general - Wellington - 30 January 2016

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Making your beliefs known through body-art ;

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Frank Macskasy The Daily Blog Frankly Speaking blog fmacskasy.wordpress.com TPPA protest - governor general - Wellington - 30 January 2016

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Citizens, expressing their views, opposing the TPPA;

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Frank Macskasy The Daily Blog Frankly Speaking blog fmacskasy.wordpress.com TPPA protest - governor general - Wellington - 30 January 2016

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Members of the New Zealand Health and Climate Council adding their opposition to the TPPA;

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Frank Macskasy The Daily Blog Frankly Speaking blog fmacskasy.wordpress.com TPPA protest - governor general - Wellington - 30 January 2016

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In October 2014, the OraTaiao The New Zealand Climate and Health Council warned;

“Negotiations over the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) threaten New Zealand’s ability to protect our climate and health. The Council’s ongoing concerns are voiced in an article in NZ Doctor online today, together with 9 other health professional groups representing doctors, nurses, midwives, medical students, academics and health promoters.

The biggest threat is the ‘Investor State Dispute Settlement’ (ISDS) provisions. This mechanism allows overseas companies, including fossil fuel companies, to sue our Government if local law changes to bring down greenhouse gas emissions might affect their value or profits.

This is happening overseas already, for example, in Germany where measures to reduce the damaging effects of carbon dioxide emissions from a coal-fired power plant have been subject to an investment dispute.

‘Climate change is already contributing to the global burden of disease and premature death, with worse to come’ says Dr Alex Macmillan of OraTaiao The NZ Climate and Health Council.

‘Climate change is a health threat for all New Zealanders, with Māori, Pacific people, children, the elderly, and low income groups likely to be the hardest hit’.

‘For a just transition to a low emissions economy, we need to put people’s health first – not the profits of overseas companies. New Zealand needs to remain a free democracy to protect our climate, our health, our country and our future’.

Irrespective of  mealy-mouthed “assurances from our Esteemed Dear Leader, New Zealand remains vulnerable to law-suits from corporations  complaining of “loss of profits”.

Despite John Key repeating  the mantra that New Zealand has never been sued,  our own Parliament put off legislation enabling plain-packaging for tobacco products until an ISDS lawsuit brought by Phillip Morris against the Australian government had been resolved.

On 17 December 2013, John Key declared;

“It will almost certainly be introduced, have its first reading, then go off to the select committee.

But it’s very, very unlikely it will be passed. In fact, in my view it shouldn’t be passed until we’ve actually had a ruling out of Australia.

We think it’s prudent to wait till we see a ruling out of Australia. If there’s a successful legal challenge out of Australia, that would guide us how legislation might be drafted in New Zealand.”

So we don’t need to be sued under ISDS provisions. The mere threat of legal action is sufficient to stay the hand of the National government from passing health related legislation.

As usual, Key’s parroted reasurances that “we have never been sued” are hollow.  Last year, the National Government was sued (or, faced a High Court “judicial review” to satisfy right-wing pedants/National apologists) by Shanghai Pengxin. The legal action followed  a Ministerial decision to overturn an  OIO decision to permit the Chinese corporation ftom purchasing a14,000 hectare sheep and cattle station at Lochinver Station;

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shanghai-pengxin-going-to-high-court-over-lochinver-decision-tppa-investor-state-dispute-settlent

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As I wrote last year subsequent to the media report;

The only difference between scenarios envisaged under the TPPA and the Lochinver Station-Shanghai Pengxin-OIO case is that the latter is being tested under the jurisdiction of a New Zealand Court of law instead of an extra-judicial, and often-secret,  corporate tribunal overseas.

This is cold comfort.

We now have a situation in our own country where, if we determine not to sell to an overseas investor, that decision can be over-turned. Our laws now allow foreign interests to be on an equal footing with New Zealand citizens.

You no longer have to be a tax-paying citizen (born or naturalised) to hold certain rights.

The people assembled, ready to  march to the Governor-General’s residence;

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Frank Macskasy The Daily Blog Frankly Speaking blog fmacskasy.wordpress.com TPPA protest - governor general - Wellington - 30 January 2016

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Frank Macskasy The Daily Blog Frankly Speaking blog fmacskasy.wordpress.com TPPA protest - governor general - Wellington - 30 January 2016

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The driver of this vehicle slowed and aggressively yelled out pro-TPPA comments. He was largely ignored, and drove off before Police could catch up to him;

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Frank Macskasy The Daily Blog Frankly Speaking blog fmacskasy.wordpress.com TPPA protest - governor general - Wellington - 30 January 2016

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No doubt being a proactive supporter of the TPPA, he will have the initiative to organise a counter pro-TPPA street march. Perhaps someone (his mum?) may even turn up to it.

Meanwhile, the marchers received more encouragement from other members of the public. Some joined in, swelling numbers, and others – like this woman – were content to clap and cheer us on;

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TPPA - 30 jan 2016 - petition to governor general (24)

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The head of the march, with TV1 reporter and cameraman filming their coverage for that evening’s news broadcast;

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Frank Macskasy The Daily Blog Frankly Speaking blog fmacskasy.wordpress.com TPPA protest - governor general - Wellington - 30 January 2016

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This couple and their child joined the protest march as it made it’s way along Kent Terrace, heading toward the Basin Reserve;

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Frank Macskasy The Daily Blog Frankly Speaking blog fmacskasy.wordpress.com TPPA protest - governor general - Wellington - 30 January 2016

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Labour MP, Louisa Wall (brown dress, wearing carved-bone pendant) participated in the march;

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Frank Macskasy The Daily Blog Frankly Speaking blog fmacskasy.wordpress.com TPPA protest - governor general - Wellington - 30 January 2016

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Her fellow Labour MP, Phil Goff, could learn a lesson of self-discipline and loyalty to Party members from Ms Wall.

Above the marchers, people in apartments  waved and cheered;

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Frank Macskasy The Daily Blog Frankly Speaking blog fmacskasy.wordpress.com TPPA protest - governor general - Wellington - 30 January 2016

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As marchers arrived at the Governor-General’s residence;

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Frank Macskasy The Daily Blog Frankly Speaking blog fmacskasy.wordpress.com TPPA protest - governor general - Wellington - 30 January 2016

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… they found the gates closed and firmly padlocked;

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Frank Macskasy The Daily Blog Frankly Speaking blog fmacskasy.wordpress.com TPPA protest - governor general - Wellington - 30 January 2016

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Which raised the question – had the Governor-General been detained in his home, under house arrest?

Meanwhile, the National regime and our esteemed Dear Leader have at last found a useful purpose to what was once an annoyingly independent news-media – as part of the State security-apparatus. Note how the nation’s journalists lined up in front of the Governor-General’s gates, to form a “protective cordon”;

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Frank Macskasy The Daily Blog Frankly Speaking blog fmacskasy.wordpress.com TPPA protest - governor general - Wellington - 30 January 2016

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The marchers assembled, which had by this time doubled in size to around 500 to 600;

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Frank Macskasy The Daily Blog Frankly Speaking blog fmacskasy.wordpress.com TPPA protest - governor general - Wellington - 30 January 2016

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“Fats” and another citizen, holding aloft an anti-TPPA placard, where on-coming traffic around the Basin Reserve could clearly view the sign. Judging by the non-stop tooting of car-horns, public sentiment against the TPPA is widespread and palpable;

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Frank Macskasy The Daily Blog Frankly Speaking blog fmacskasy.wordpress.com TPPA protest - governor general - Wellington - 30 January 2016

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Amanda Vickers, from It’s Our Future,  addressed the marchers and explained the process by which the petition – bearing approximately 4,300 signatures – would be presented.

On the  It’s Our Future, website, she said;

“We are requesting the Governor General to command John Key – to put the question of TPP to a binding referendum prior to signing.”

We are asking him to refuse to assent to any enabling legislation unless the people vote in favour. No one can force the Governor General to sign legislation. If he doesn’t sign it doesn’t become law.

Amanda says, “The Governor General in agreeing with our request, provides a unique opportunity to defuse the polarisation around TPP, allowing for open public discussion about the TPP implications, in the period before a referendum was held.”

The petition to the Governor-General requests;

We, the UNDERSIGNED citizens and residents of Aotearoa New Zealand, PETITION Your Excellency:
1. to COMMAND the Government to put the question of proceeding with, or withdrawal from TPPA to a BINDING REFERENDUM; and
2. to PROHIBIT the Government from signing any final agreement, or taking any binding treaty action UNLESS the People vote in favour; and
3. to REFUSE Assent to any enabling legislation UNLESS the People vote in favour.

Ms Vickers told marchers  that professional bodies had spoken out against the TPPA and that there was widespread condemnation of many of it’s provisions. She said there could be no mandate for  an agreement that had been negotiated in secrecy, and that we were only now learning how much of our sovereignty would be ceded, especially to offshore, secret tribunals under the ISDS provisions.

Ms Vickers said that a hundred jurists and judges  had written to the National government, voicing their concerns at ISDS secret tribunals and their total lack of accountability. They had not received a reply from the government.

This was a huge loss of sovereignty and called the provisions of the TPPA, extreme.

She said that the TPPA should be put to a binding referendum and in the meantime, any legislation to enable the Agreement should be rejected by the Governor General. Ms Vickers further added that this event was still only the beginning, saying;

“We are not prepared to surrender our sovereignty and self-determination.”

Ms Vickers then explained to the assembled people that when the Governor General’s representative, Gregory Baughen, arrived at the gates to receive the petition, that everyone should stand and see the hand-over through in silence. She said this would honour the process and give it solemnity.

She also gave a warning that if any agent provocateur’s  tried to incite violence or disruption, that protest organiser’s would not tolerate it. She said “we had enough of that during the 1981 Springbok Tour protests, and we don’t want to see it again“. She asked people to film anyone who attempted to disrupt proceedings.

The Governor General’s representative, Gregory Baughen, arrived, and in near-silence (to the background noise of passing traffic) he received  the petition in a flag-draped box;

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TPPA - 30 jan 2016 - petition to governor general (40)

Image used courtesy Mick McCrohon

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The hand-over was carried out with quiet dignity. As he walked back, up the driveway, the people assembled spontaneously began to sing (see TV1 video at 1:48) the New Zealand anthem, first in Maori, then in English;

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Frank Macskasy The Daily Blog Frankly Speaking blog fmacskasy.wordpress.com TPPA protest - governor general - Wellington - 30 January 2016

Image used courtesy Mick McCrohon

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This was dignified respect which John Key has yet to earn.

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Postscript:

Seen at an anti-TPPA protest march in Wellington  on 15 August 2015;

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tppa-15-aug-2015

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Because some matters are apparently  “too important” to be left to We, The People to vote on.

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References

Evening Report: Kelsey accuses PM Key of ‘orchestrated move’ to make TPPA debate a security issue

Fairfax media: TPP protesters were ‘misinformed’, says John Key

OraTaiao The New Zealand Climate and Health Council: Health professionals say TPPA risks climate and health protection

NZ Business Review: PM to TPP critics – ‘We’ve never been sued

Fairfax media: Key – Let Australia go first

Fairfax media: Shanghai Pengxin going to High Court over Lochinver decision

Radio NZ: Little gives Goff green light to cross floor on TPP

TVNZ News: Wellington protesters ask Governor General to block TPPA

Additional

Otago Daily Times: Octagon declared a ‘TPP-free zone’

NZ Herald: TPP – Hundreds gather outside Governor-General’s residence

Labour: Andrew Little On the TPPA

Citizens’ Action

No Mandate: Download and Sign the Petition

It’s Our Future: Take Action Against the TPPA

Previous related blogposts

Al Capone lives again?

Three Questions to Key, Williamson, Coleman, et al

Another of John Key’s lies – sorry – “Dynamic Situations”

Key’s TPPA Falsehoods – “We’ve never, ever been sued” ***up-date ***

Citizens march against TPPA in Wellington, send message to National govt: “Yeah, nah!”

Citizens march against TPPA in Wellington: Did Police hide tasers at TPPA march?

The Mendacities of Mr Key # 15: John Key lies to NZ on consultation and ratification of TPPA

Copyright (c) Notice

All images stamped ‘fmacskasy.wordpress.com’ are freely available to be used, with following provisos,

» Use must be for non-commercial purposes.
» Where purpose of use is commercial, a donation to Child Poverty Action Group is requested.
» At all times, images must be used only in context, and not to denigrate individuals or groups.
» Acknowledgement of source is requested.
» Mick McCrohon asserts his rights over images attributed to him.

 

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This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 1 February 2016.

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The Mendacities of Mr Key # 15: John Key lies to NZ on consultation and ratification of TPPA

14 January 2016 11 comments

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ls_childliar_feat

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As this blogger reported last year, on 16 June;

In the ongoing debate on the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement negotiations, Dear  Leader John Key has been at pains to try to reassure New Zealanders that any TPPA document would be “first  presented to Parliament”.

On 1 October 2013, Key said;

With all [free trade agreements] the way that they work is that have to be ratified by Parliament, and we have to build a parliamentary majority, and all of that has to happen through the transparency of the deal.”

“…my advice is that the Trans-Pacific Partnership will require legislation, so, ultimately, once it has gone through the select committee and the public have had their chance to have input, and it has gone through all of those various stages, the Government of the day will require a parliamentary mandate, so by definition people would have had a lot of input.”

And on 31st March this year, Key asserted on NewstalkZB;

In the end, this thing has to go through our Parliament has to be ratified by our Parliament and has to bear scrutiny and I believe is in the best interests of New Zealand.”

At every opportunity, our esteemed Dear Leader and other National MPs and Ministers have been eager to assure New Zealanders that the text of the  TPPA would be submitted to a select committee; scrutinised, and ratified by Parliament before it was signed.

Key’s assurances were seemingly air-tight.  (Though I, for one, am always skeptical of any assertion made by our esteemed Dear Leader.)

However, a media statement from Chile’s General Directorate of International Economic Relations head, Andrés Rebolledo Smitmans, has seemingly given the game away. On 5 January, Smitmans stated;

“En la oportunidad expuso en primer lugar sobre el contexto en que se desarrolló la negociación de este tratado, que será firmado el próximo 4 de febrero en Nueva Zelanda.”

Google translation;

“At the time I first spoke about the context in which the negotiation of this treaty, to be signed on February 4 was developed in New Zealand.”

Also, according to Bloomberg  the impending signing-ceremony is confirmed by the Peruvians;

Peru’s Trade and Tourism Ministry (Mincetur) confirmed that Deputy Trade Minister Edgar Vasquez, the country’s TPP negotiator, will be on hand for the signing ceremony in New Zealand.

And the Mexican financial periodical, El Financiero, reported;

“Los 12 países integrantes del Acuerdo Estratégico Transpacífico de Asociación Económica ( TPP , por sus siglas en inglés), firmarán el documento el próximo 4 de febrero en Nueva Zelanda, informó el secretario de Economía, Ildefonso Guajardo.”

Google translation;

“The 12 member countries of the Trans-Pacific Strategic Economic Partnership Agreement (TPP, for its acronym in English), [will] sign[ed] the document on February 4 in New Zealand, the Minister of Economy, Ildefonso Guajardo said.”

The fourth of February is five days before Parliament resumes sitting, on 9 February.

Which makes a lie out of Key’s promises that the TPPA would be put before the House for Select Committee scrutiny and Parliamentary over-sight. By the time Parliament resumes, the TPPA will have been ratified by all participants according to the Chileans, Mexicans,  and Peruvians.

Evidently someone forgot to mention to our South American friends  not to reveal the up-to-now-secret ratification date, leaving Simon Bridges to do some fast-explaining;

“Arrangements for the signing of the Trans Pacific Partnership are not yet confirmed, as a number of countries are still working through their domestic approval processes required before signature.

Further details will be announced when and if they are confirmed.”

National’s media spin-doctors must still be on leave if that statement is the best damage-control they can come up with.

It is clear that National was planning on “pulling a swiftie” by keeping the ratification date secret from the public – a point not lost on University Law professor and TPPA-critic, Jane Kelsey;

“Consistent with the government’s obsessively secrecy throughout the TPPA process, we have to get confirmation of what is happening in our own country from offshore.

Polls have shown the government doesn’t have popular support for the deal. Presumably it wants to limit the chance for New Zealanders to make their opposition heard. We were reliably told by offshore sources some time ago that the meeting is in Auckland, but we expect the government to try to keep the actual venue secret until much closer to the day.”

National has (again)  been caught attempting to deceive the public.

It beggars belief that they really thought no one would notice.

It is now up to other political parties – Labour, Greens, NZ First, Maori Party, and Peter Dunne – not to support any enabling legislation put to Parliament on this trade deal.  Otherwise they risk being associated with, and tarred, by a political process that has been uncovered to be  patently dishonest.

Any government that has to employ deception to enact policy is afraid of it’s own people. National is not fit to govern.

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References

Salon.com: The 10 biggest lies you’ve been told about the Trans-Pacific Partnership (Note point 5 in this article)

Previous related blogposts

Some thoughts on the Plain Packaging Bill

Public opposition grows against TPPA – Wellington

Public opposition grows against TPPA – Wellington

Annette King on the TPPA

Even Tim Groser was in the dark?!

Joyce, TPPA, and wine exports

The Mendacities of Mr Key # 14: The TPPA – “We’ve never, ever been sued”

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This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 8 January 2016.

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Citizens march against TPPA in Wellington: Did Police hide tasers at TPPA march?

22 November 2015 6 comments

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TPPA - stand up it's not over - with taser motiff

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NZ, Wellington, 14 November – As previously reported (16 November), police failed to provide any form of presence during the Wellington anti-TPPA protest march.

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“Policing” was effectively left up to March Marshalls who controlled traffic and supervised protesters as they made their way through Wellington’s CBD, to Parliament.

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As I also reported, a msm journalist present noted the lack of police presence, expressing his surprise and nervousness.

However, at  Parliament’s grounds, there was no lack of police presence. At least twentytwo policemen and women lined up in front of the old Parliament Building.

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The building was not only empty on a Saturday afternoon, but the entrance had been boarded up due to refurbishment activity.

It was apparent that police had positioned themselves on the Parliamentary forecourt waiting for protesters to arrive, and in the process had forgotten another of their primary duties; traffic management and escorting the protest march through Wellington’s narrow streets.

Fortunately, the March Marshalls achieved a good result in both areas.

But there was another curious aspect to the policemen and women on Parliament’s forecourts.

On a previous anti-TPPA march in Wellington, on 15 August, protesters were ‘greeted’ with police wearing tasers on their belts;

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taser - 21 august 2015 - tppa march - parliament - police - pockets (2)

15 August

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taser - 21 august 2015 - tppa march - parliament - police

15 August

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Last Saturday’s (14 November) police did not appear to be displaying tasers.

But – were they armed with tasers concealed in their pockets?

These images were taken on the day, and appear to show bulges in their pockets  that do not appear in the above images, or similar images taken three months ago;

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possible taser - 14 november 2015 - tppa march - parliament - police (1)

14 November

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possible taser - 14 november 2015 - tppa march - parliament - police (2)

14 November

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possible taser - 14 november 2015 - tppa march - parliament - police (3)

14 November

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For a better comparison;

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police - tasers - concealed weapons - concealed tasers

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Following the 15 August anti-TPPA march and the open display of tasers, there was some public disquiet at police carrying these weapons to a political protest.

On this occassion,  someone within the Police hierarchy may have made an unfortunate ‘call’ to have their officers carry concealed tasers.

There is no clear evidence to prove this assertion one way or another. The bulges may have been hankies stuffed deep into trouser pockets (quite a few hankies, judging by the bulges).

But if true, it may be appropriate for an urgent  “Please Explain” between the Minister’s and Commissioner’s offices.

 

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Previous related blogposts

Citizens march against TPPA in Wellington, send message to National govt: “Yeah, nah!”

Copyright (c) Notice

All images stamped ‘fmacskasy.wordpress.com’ are freely available to be used, with following provisos,

» Use must be for non-commercial purposes.
» Where purpose of use is commercial, a donation to Child Poverty Action Group is requested.
» At all times, images must be used only in context, and not to denigrate individuals or groups.
» Acknowledgement of source is requested.

 

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No more anarchy

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This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 17 November 2015.

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Categories: The Body Politic Tags: , ,

Citizens march against TPPA in Wellington, send message to National govt: “Yeah, nah!”

21 November 2015 3 comments

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TPPA - stand up it's not over

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NZ, Wellington, 14 November – Tertiary Education Union national president and veteran anti-TPPA campaigner, Dr Sandra Grey, addressed a gathering of  citizens, in Midland Park, in Wellington’s CBD;

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Dr Grey told the crowd of  nearly one thousand, that the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement  (TPPA) had not yet been signed, and was not due for ratification until early next year.

She encouraged those listening to let other people know that this was by no means a done deal and they should let others know. Dr Grey encouraged people to “flood the internet” and spread the word to lobby National not to ratify the agreement.

As numbers in the park swelled, people brought their own, home-made signs to make their views known;

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These citizens not only expressed their dissatisfaction with the TPPA and the shady, secretive process surrounding it, but were working to engage young people in the electoral process. They wanted New Zealand’s youth to exercise their vote and thereby choose their own future;

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Some more imaginative signs;

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Banners from the Green Party, Nurses Organisation, and Wellington Social Workers;

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The marchers, setting off from Midland Park;

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By the time the protest march left Midland Park, numbers had increased to between 1,500 to 2,000 people. However, something very unusual became apparent even before the protesters made their way out onto Lambton Quay.

The view south, with March-Marshalls (in yellow vests) on the road;

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The view north, with TV1 reporter and cameraman standing on the center traffic-island;

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No police presence.

There was not one single policeman or woman, nor a patrol car, for crowd or traffic control. Traffic and crowd control were left up to the Marshals – all of whom did a magnificent job.

With traffic stopped, the marchers moved out onto Lambton Quay;

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With the head of the march behind him, TV1’s reporter was filmed by his cameraman for the 6PM News;

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As protesters made their way to Parliament, more people joined the march;

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Winding their way along Lambton Quay, numbers had ballooned to around 2,000;

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Ben held aloft New Zealand’s current flag – in many ways symbolic of the struggle to retain something of this country’s independence.

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The TPPA could rightly be seen as a radical change for  New Zealand; the submerging of our heritage and culture by forces of globalisation.

Perhaps there is a kind of mad logic to our esteemed Dear Leader’s desperate need to spend $26 million on a flag-referendum when the public has shown little appetite for changing our flag.

If the TPPA is a new, corporatised road for this country, then John Key’s desire to have the silver fern (or some incarnation of it) as our new flag suddenly makes sense. A new flag is the ‘re-branding’ of New Zealand, as part and parcel of a TPPA world.

Having a young citizen – Ben – waving an old, traditional symbol of this country, is made more poignant because of his youth. It is not often that young people hold on to aspects of our Past and Present.

Perhaps, in times of rapid change and uncertainty, we try to hold on to elements of the Past, to anchor ourselves in the  Present.

Amongst all the party and union banners and the anti-TPPA signs, Ben’s little Kiwi flag made more sense as a symbol for resistance.

Reaching the Bowen St/Lambton Quay/Whitmore St intersection, there was still a zero police presence. This left March Marshalls with the tricky task of managing traffic flow and permitting protesters pass through safely;

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I mentioned the lack of police presence to a msm journalist and he agreed; he had noticed the same curious thing. He said it made it him feel nervous.

I agreed, I said. But not because there might be trouble-makers amongst the protesters. I pointed out it would only take one lunatic driver to drive his or her car into the crowd, injuring or killing someone.  I recalled a very similar tragic event happening sixteen years ago, during a picket at the Port of Lyttleton.

The march made it’s way past the Cenotaph;

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Usually, at this point, I make my way up onto Parliament’s grounds. This time, I remained at the intersection, my camera ready.

Sure enough, this dark-coloured SUV slowly nosed it’s way amongst the marchers;

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The driver moved through the procession, at one point only a metre from people in front of his bumper. I moved closer to the vehicle,  continuing to  take photographs, to let him know that I was watching and recording. If the driver became belligerent behind the wheel, I would be recording his behaviour before interceding;

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Heading toward the gates of Parliament, another young protester with her home-made sign;

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Granny expresses her appreciation!

Once the march had moved through the intersection, I noticed a white utility vehicle with its amber lights flashing, to hold back traffic. Whether this was a thoughtful citizen using his/her initiative to control traffic – or had been directed to do so by police or Wellington Council – is unknown;

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A minute later, a sole police vehicle drove past – their role in traffic management (if any), too late for any practical purpose. Protestors had moved off the road and traffic was already moving again;

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As protesters made their way onto Parliament’s grassy lawns, we discovered why there had been no attempt by Police at any form of traffic management. They were waiting for protesters on the forecourt, lined up in front of Parliament’s steps, protecting an empty building;

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The first speaker to address the crowd was environmentalist lawyer, working part-time at Victoria University, Tom Bennion;

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Tom voiced his concern that the TPPA could prevent necessary action being taken to address global warming. The TPPA fell short of environmental protections and gave greater prominence to protecting  corporate rights. He said implementing the TPPA would harm our chances for meaningful action on climate change, and demanded that the issue be more fully debated in Parliament.

The second speaker was local Iwi representative and lawyer, Moana Sinclair;

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Moana told the crowd that with thirty thousand pages of TPPA text and other documents to analyse  was a daunting task. She was scathing on the TPPA and it’s implications for Maori, saying that as Maori “we already know about this kind of bullshit”. She said that “we still don’t know what’s in the Treaty-related clauses.

Moana rejected reassurances from National ministers saying “we’re sick and tired of their lies”. Without legal analysis of the 30,000 pages of the TPPA and supporting documents, she was sceptical that there were no hidden ‘fish hooks’ waiting to be discovered.

The following speaker was Jimmy Green, from “Gen Zero”;

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Jimmy said he first became interested in climate change issues at the age of 14. The more he found out, he said, the more convinced he became that “it is an insult to our ancestors that we ruin the world for our children”.

Jimmy specifically condemned the Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) provisions of the TPPA, saying that if investments could be put at risk by governments legislating for social, health, environmental, or education issues, then investors should not have made those investments in the first place.

Jimmy described the TPPA as a castle built on sand and that no government can go against the will of the people and survive. He described the TPPA as “just an idea, and ideas can be undone”. He described New Zealanders as generally good people and that Kiwis had the necessary courage to stand up and walk away. He said people might not fully understand the implications of the TPPA and that it was our role to make them understand.

Jimmy was followed by Peace Action campaigner, Valerie Morse;

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Valerie explained that the TPPA was a vehicle to increase massive concentration  of wealth  to the already rich super-elite. It would benefit the elite ‘haves’ at the expense of the the rest of the world.

Valarie also condemned the TPPA as another means by which New Zealand is increasingly being tied to US and it’s insane war policies. She described the TPPA as part of gangster capitalism. Painting a stark picture of our recent history, Valerie pointed out that New Zealand had been at war for the last fourteen years.

Valerie pointed out there was a massive campaign under way to win the “hearts and minds” of the public to support  the ongoing “War on Terror” in Afghanistan, Iraq, and elsewhere. She described the Army games in Southland  where “mock” protesters  had been beaten up as part of the exercise. Was that what lay in store for ordinary people who chose to protest against their governments, she asked?

“War is not a by-product of US capitalism”, Valerie explained, “it is an integral part of it”. She warned that we should expect New Zealand to become more deeply involved in the US killing campaign;

“If we organise against the TPPA, expect to be labelled a terrorist.”

Valerie’s sobering warnings was followed by poet, Cory Brian;

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Corey read his thought-provoking poem to the crowd, who listened in silence;

My journey begins fresh, anew,
the rush of a city, no longer we west coast few,
day to day select few pray,
for those around them to share their stay

you enjoy that which ancestors build,
your over payed politicians form the Decisions Guild,
to guide a nation as they see fit,culture and heritage not cared for one bit
our farms, our river all sold to market,
and before you find out the hope you’ll kark it,

For if we were ever collectively aware,
then that fat old Decision Guild would have something to fear 
But alas that is just not the case,
you all turn away, afraid to face
the fact that generations to come,
may have difficulty seeing the sun,
not only through our cause of pollution,
but also that we struggle for a simple solution 
to stem the flow that society has made
its ever pushing tide for culture to fade.

Continue on mankind this path 
so it shall read your epitaph:

Man was here but a few hundred years 
molesting the earth without any cares
digging, polluting, No consequences,
mother natures only choice left?
to dismantle mans fences,

individually the choices, signs and roads we take
each day increases whats at stake
what would happen if we thought as one?
could we possibly redirect the gun?
away from our mouths that cause this harm,
towards our futures and fast track calm?

It will not be those that we follow,
but us, the new with minds as swift as the swallows,
we are that our past envisioned
the future to mend is our decision!

But how you ask your eyes to me?
Open your Eyes…. Not just those two,
and you shall see,
the page is blank our chapters to write
now take up your pen and create YOUR sight.

With a pen you say thinking im mad
now wait for it and IL point out whats sad

laws are made with but a pen
yet dictate the actions of nearly all men
your headphones occupy your ears,
so that mother culture can lullaby all your fears
your are bound, constricted, unconsciously gagged,
cameras posted everywhere ensure you remain tagged,
livestock bumbling through these concrete streets…

now compare that to the stupid animals you raise, feed, and eat.

Following Corey, Pala from ‘Real Choice NZ’, was given the microphone;

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Pala told the crowd that people think that democracy goes with capitalism. He shook his head and said, “No, capitalism has always tried to squash democracy“. He said this was especially true for indigenous peoples’ rights.

Pala said that the TPPA will benefit only a few and “is at the forefront  of the wedge to sharpen inequality between people”. He warned that even if the TPPA fails, corporate power  would remain in place, subverting public institutions for private gain, and needed to be constantly fought.

Echoing the sentiments of many other New Zealanders, Pala condemned this government for squandering $26 million on a flag referendum, while insisting there was insufficient money to spend on child poverty. He demanded to know why a referendum could be held to determine our flag, but not on the issue of the TPPA.

Pala ended by reminding us;

” We are in the middle of a serious assault on democracy. Democracy is a living thing, but also a fragile thing as well.”

Pala was followed by long-time anti-TPPA campaigner and Mana Party activist, Ariana;

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Ariana told the crowd that thousands of people across the country were standing up today “for what we believe in”.  She condemned the current government as treasonous, saying,

“We need to get these neo-liberal bastards out of our country. It is a mockery of democracy when this important issue will be decided by only twenty people in Cabinet!”

She said there was only one way to get rid of this government, and that was to get everyone voting in 2017.

Ariana said that the TPPA was not good for New Zealand and certainly not good for small businesses. She wanted to see support for local businesses grow, and not the empowerment of multinational corporations.

Ariana encouraged everyone to put up “TPPA Free Zone” signs, as New Zealanders did in the 1980s, during the nuclear-free campaign. The signs could be downloaded from Facebook and other websites.

As many others have pointed out, Ariana stated that the TPPA was an investor-corporations “bill of rights” and not about free trade.

Citizens listened intently to the speakers;

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The last speakers were also the youngest, Tracy and Katie, who have played their part in the anti-TPPA campaign;

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Introducing Tracey and Katie, Ariana  told the crowd how they forfeited  “Trick or Treating” at the Robbie Williams Concert, and instead worked through the evening handing out TPPA leaflets to the concert-goers.

This elicited a mass-cheer and clapping  from the crowd.

Tracey told the crowd that her annual school speech was on the topic of – the TPPA!

“Kia Ora My name is Tracey… I am 13 years old… Today I am here as I am worried about what will happen to mine and my friends’ future if the TPPA is signed!!!! I have on many times handed out fliers and chalked for people to google TPPA…Many people have seemed interested in what I have had to say whilst handing out leaflets… Though some people have not and have been quite nasty!! Ha ha Mum was always there to give them some facts! This year we had to write a speech for school the topic was “There is a problem in New Zealand and I can solve it by? well you can just guess what I talked about – Yes, the TPP… It was very one-sided as there was nothing from the government because it was a deal being done in secret, but there were plenty of articles about why we shouldn’t sign it from lessons learned overseas … This is my future this government is playing with and I say Don’t SIGN the TPPA.”

Katie spoke passionately on climate-change affecting her future;

“Kia Ora My name is Katie …. I am 12 years old. Today I am here like you because I am worried about what will happen to mine and my friends’ future if the TPPA is signed!!!! I have on numerous occasions handed out fliers and chalked for people to google TPPA… The reason I do this is because I have been to many very interesting discussions where people have passionately spoken about our Country and the TPP, And NO never any good news, if there was, the bad was way worse than the good! … I have been to many TPP rally meetings and rallies… Mum has made sure we are at most of them!… Her point of view is, We will not go to her in a few years time and say, but Mum you guys could have done something to stop it!!! Why didn’t you???? So here we are!! And look at all of you, so I am guessing you all agree with us as you are here too! Thank you for helping stand up for a better NZ for us all… TPPA NO WAY!”

Tracey and Katie are ambassadors for the generations that will inherit our country – indeed our planet. We cannot ignore their voices.

Finally, no protest rally is ever really completely done without at least one excellent artist to perform for the crowd. In this case, Matiu Te Huki belted out two great songs, to everyone’s joy;

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Matiu’s voice did real justice to the songs he sang.

On that ‘note’

Whilst I won’t point out which policeman or woman it was, I spotted one  in the police-line tapping his/her foot, in time to the music. Constables – you’re allowed to enjoy the music. We really, really don’t mind.

The last word, I leave to the maker of this simple – but insightful – message;

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14 november 2015 - tppa march - parliament (2)

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Tomorrow: The TPPA March – Something concerning regarding the Police presence at Parliament on Saturday afternoon.

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References

NZ Herald: Sentence for Lyttleton picket line fatality too light – union

The Daily Blog: Keith Rankin – White Trite

Facebook: TPPA Free Zone and Action plans

Te Papa: Nuclear free sign

Previous related blogposts

Citizen A – 29 Nov 2012 – TPPA Special

TPPA: Business launches propaganda campaign

TPPA: Doomsday scenarios, Critics, and flights of fancy

Open message to the Middle Classes about the threat of the TPPA

Nationwide Rally Against the TPPA – Day of Action!

They marched against the TPPA and the threat to our sovereignty (part tahi)

They marched against the TPPA and the threat to our sovereignty (part rua)

The Mendacities of Mr Key #5: Has Tim Groser shown the P.M. to be a liar on the TPPA?

Nationwide Day of Protest Captures Public Attention on TPPA

Opposing the TPPA – the Heavens hold their deluge ’till the People speak

Citizens face Police armed with tasers at Wellington TPPA protest march

Support groups

Facebook: Oil Free Wellington

Facebook: It’s Our Future – Kiwis concerned about the TPPA

Website:  It’s Our Future

Facebook: Aotearoa is Not for Sale

Action Stations: A Secret Trade Deal So Terrifying That Parliament Isn’t Even Allowed To Know What It Says

Facebook: TPPA Action Group – Wellington

OraTaiao New Zealand Climate and Health Council

Copyright (c) Notice

All images stamped ‘fmacskasy.wordpress.com’ are freely available to be used, with following provisos,

» Use must be for non-commercial purposes.
» Where purpose of use is commercial, a donation to Child Poverty Action Group is requested.
» At all times, images must be used only in context, and not to denigrate individuals or groups.
» Acknowledgement of source is requested.

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tppa - everyone's a winner

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This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 16 November 2015.

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Key’s TPPA Falsehoods – “We’ve never, ever been sued” ***up-date ***

22 October 2015 8 comments

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law_scale

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Previously blogged on 13 October;

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4 October 2015 - TVNZ Q+A @ 13.04 "There has never been a case taken against New Zealand..." @ 16.24 "We've never, ever been sued..."

4 October 2015 – TVNZ Q+A:- @ 13.04 “There has never been a case taken against New Zealand…” @ 16.24 “We’ve never, ever been sued…”

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On 4 October,  our esteemed Dear Leader assured New Zealanders that, under the various free trade agreements we are party to, “there has never been a case taken against New Zealand…” and “we’ve never, ever been sued…”.[…]

Key’s insistence that  New Zealand is safe from lawsuits from foreign corporations indicates  he was privy to the text of the finalised Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement (which is still a closely guarded secret by Trade Minister Groser) and that  we, as a nation, are now fully exposed to litigation from Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) processes.

It seems that Dear Leader spoke too soon.

Not even a fortnight passed since he uttered those fateful words – an apparent challenge to the gods – and New Zealand is now being sued;

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Shanghai Pengxin going to High Court over Lochinver decision - TPPA - investor state dispute settlent

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In response to the lawsuit, our esteemed and much-loved Dear Leader stated;

“Quite frankly, you can get appeals both ways, so when Shanghai Pengxin was granted the right to buy the Crafar farms, there was also an appeal because that went through, and it was tested back in court – now it’s going the other way.

But look, in the end, if the courts determine that the Overseas Investment Office got it wrong, the Government will go and reflect on that and honour the law, we always do that.”

The only difference between scenarios envisaged under the TPPA and the Lochinver Station-Shanghai Pengxin-OIO case is that the latter is being tested under the jurisdiction of a New Zealand Court of law instead of an extra-judicial, and often-secret,  corporate tribunal overseas.

This is cold comfort.

We now have a situation in our own country where, if we determine not to sell to an overseas investor, that decision can be over-turned. Our laws now allow foreign interests to be on an equal footing with New Zealand citizens.

You no longer have to be a tax-paying citizen (born or naturalised) to hold certain rights.

You can be a foreign corporation (or wealthy individual) with deep pockets and a small militia of flinty-eyed lawyers.

Money is now all it takes.

Mark 15 October 2015 in your diary as the day when our sovereignty was forfeit in the pursuit of global finance. If we dare say ‘No’, they have ways of changing our minds.

This will be the first, of many to come, “legal” challenges to our sovereignty.

And the worst aspect to where we have arrived, 31 years after David Lange’s government was elected and Roger Douglas began his so-called free-market “reforms”?

As a nation, Kiwis have allowed it to happen. We did this to ourselves.

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References

TV1 Q+A: PM on TPP – ‘We’ve never ever been sued’

Fairfax media: Shanghai Pengxin going to High Court over Lochinver decision

Additional

MFAT: New Zealand-China Free Trade Agreement

New Zealand China Free Trade Agreement (text)

Government could have faced lawsuit

Previous related blogposts

Al Capone lives again?

Three Questions to Key, Williamson, Coleman, et al

Another of John Key’s lies – sorry – “Dynamic Situations”

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TPPA-cartoon

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This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 17 October 2015.

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Letter to the editor – John Key; “We’ve never been sued” (up till now)

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Frank Macskasy - letters to the editor - Frankly Speaking

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from: Frank Macskasy <fmacskasy@gmail.com>
to: Sunday Star Times <letters@star-times.co.nz>
date: Fri, Oct 16, 2015
subject: Letter to the editor

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The Editor
Sunday Star Times
.On   4 October 2015, on  TVNZ’s Q+A, our esteemed Prime Minister reassured New Zealanders that we had nothing to fear from the newly signed TPPA, and it’s controversial provisions for corporations to sue us.

Key insisted,  “There has never been a case taken against New Zealand…” and  “We’ve never, ever been sued…”
Barely a fortnight has passed since he uttered those resolute words on our television screens –  and New Zealand is now being sued.

Chinese corporation Shanghai Pengxin – the same company that bought the 17 Crafar Farms last year – was recently denied permission to purchase the vast 14,000 hectare Lochinvar Station.

Even the current National government believed that was a step too far.

John Key’s words that “There has never been a case taken against New Zealand…” and  “We’ve never, ever been sued” now ring hollow in our ears.

The first (of many) lawsuit by a foreign corporation has begun. With it, the beginning of the end of our sovereignty, as overseas interests now force their way further into our country, and economy, irrespective of our wishes.

And the TPPA’s provisions to allow further lawsuits by corporations has not even been implemented yet.

-Frank Macskasy

 

[address and phone number supplied]

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References

TV1 Q+A: PM on TPP – ‘We’ve never ever been sued’

Fairfax media: Shanghai Pengxin going to High Court over Lochinver decision

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try the carrot again

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The Mendacities of Mr Key # 14: The TPPA – “We’ve never, ever been sued”

18 October 2015 1 comment

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tpp-banner

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On 4 October,  our esteemed Dear Leader assured New Zealanders that, under the various free trade agreements we are party to, “there has never been a case taken against New Zealand…” and “we’ve never, ever been sued…”.

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4 October 2015 - TVNZ Q+A @ 13.04 "There has never been a case taken against New Zealand..." @ 16.24 "We've never, ever been sued..."

4 October 2015 – TVNZ Q+A:-

@ 13.04

              “There has never been a case taken against New Zealand…”

@ 16.24

              “We’ve never, ever been sued…”

 

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Key’s “assurances”   were made four days prior to MFAT (Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade) releasing “Fact Sheets” outlining New Zealand’s exposure to lawsuits from corporations. Two MFAT documents – Investment and ISDS and  Market Access for Services and Investment are dated by a Scoop Media press-release  which places their release at 8 October.

Key’s insistence that  New Zealand is safe from lawsuits from foreign corporations indicates  he was privy to the text of the finalised Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement (which is still a closely guarded secret by Trade Minister Groser) and that  we, as a nation, are now fully exposed to litigation from Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) processes.

Despite Key’s insistance that “there has never been a case taken against New Zealand…” and “we’ve never, ever been sued…”, one only has to look across the Tasman to understand the full ramifications of ISDS provisions in trade agreements.

As Corin Dann reminded Key during the 4 October Q+A interview;

@13.07

“…If we look at the plain packaging [proposed legislation for tobacco] in Australia, you’ve always said, ‘Australia’s being sued over that issue of plain packaging … in that that Investor-State Forum’; you’ve always said ‘we’ll wait for Australia to see how they go, ‘cos they’re going cop a massive legal bill’, so that’s stopped that [proposed legislation for tobacco] happening in New Zealand.”

Indeed, Dann was spot on.

A little under two years ago we  had our own Smoke-free Environments (Tobacco Plain Packaging) Amendment Bill, introduced by then co-leader of the Maori Party, Tariana Turia, on 17 December 2013.

With  15,682 submissions received  from interested groups and individuals, on 5 August 2014 the Health Committee recommended;

The Health Committee has examined the Smoke-free Environments (TobaccoPlainPackaging) Amendment Bill and recommends that it be passed with the amendments shown.

Despite cross-party support (with the curious exception of NZ First, for reasons that defy understanding), the Bill was put on “hold” by National.

This is what Key had to say about why  the Bill was put  “on hold”, until a court case between the Australian government and tobacco giant,  Philip Morris, is settled in an Australian court. He said,

“I don’t really see the point in us finally passing the legislation until we see exactly what happens in the Australian court case. We have a slightly different system, but there might just be some learnings and if there are learnings out of that, it would be sensible to potentially incorporate those in either our legislation or avoid some significant costs.”

Two points to consider:

  1. Remember that this is an industry that kills up to 4,600 people each year. If it were a bacterial or viral disease, the entire nation would be in a State of Emergency, and entire communities, towns, and cities quarantined.
  2. Is “learnings” an actual word?

John Key insists that New Zealand has never been sued under any free trade agreement.

Strictly speaking, that is correct.

However, we have already seen how even the possible hint of a lawsuit is sufficient to stay his hand and prevent the passing of a law that could potentially have  saved  up to 5,000 lives a year and saved the health system up to $1.6 billion per annum (est.).

In which case, the ISDS clause of the TPPA may never be tested under a National government – they would simply shy away from any legislation or other governmental policy provoking the merest suggestion of legal action. No matter how beneficial  a policy might be.

In an interview onThe Nation’, on 10 October, Trade Minister Tim Groser already seemed resigned to the fact that New Zealand could be sued if a government went ahead to introduce plain packaging for sugar-laden ‘fizzy’ drinks;

Lisa Owen: You could force plain packaging for fizzy drinks, say?

Tim Groser: I believe you probably could as long as you had a good health-based case and you’re ready to defend it.

Key’s timidity has already been shown with crystal clarity; we’ve never been sued before simply because National hasn’t the guts to be challenged.

Get some guts, Dear Leader!

Addendum1

During the 4 October Q+A interview, Key insisted that Phillips Morris initiated the lawsuit  under Australia’s Bilateral Investment Treaty with Hong Kong instead of the Australia-US FTA because the threshold for proving a case under the US trade agreement was “too high”. Key said,

@ 13.25

“Well interesting enough, Australia has a free trade agreement with, ah, the United States. And in fact, um, they looked, I think, Phillip Morris, or whoever’s taking the case, at taking it under Investor State [Disputes Settlement] and they recognised, that Investor State, the threshold was so high, they’re actually not taking it under the US-Australia FTA. It defeats the very case that Jane Kelsey’s been making. They’re taking it out of a very strange agreement they’ve got with Hong Kong, which is why actually they went and registered themselves with Hong Kong to take the action against Australia.”

So Key is suggesting that Philip Morris chose to use an Australia-Hong Kong FTA rather than an Australia-US FTA because “the threshold was so high”?!

John Key is deflecting.

He is either woefully ignorant, or willfully disingenuous, of the fact that the United States has been the main instigator of Investor State Disputes claims, as UN stats show;

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UNCTAD - ISDS claims - Most frequent home States (total as of end 2014)

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Even if tobacco company Philip Morris chose to employ a Hong Kong-Australia FTA to sue the Australian government, the fact seems immaterial at best.

As UN data shows, US-based investors are not at all reticent in using ISDS provisions to launch lawsuits against sovereign governments.

We have just entered into a trade agreement with the most litigious nation on Earth.

Addendum2

According to UNCTAD report Recent Trends in IIAs and ISDS;

By the end of 2014, the overall number of concluded cases reached 356 out of 608 claims;

Of  these, approximately;

  • 37%  (132 cases) were decided in favour of the State (all claims dismissed either on jurisdictional grounds or on the merits),

  • 25% (87 cases) ended in favour of the investor (monetary compensation awarded).

  • 28% of cases (101) were settled

  • 8% of claims were discontinued for reasons other than settlement (or for unknown reasons).

  • 2%  (seven cases), a treaty breach was found but no monetary compensation was awarded to the investor.

The number of cases (608) has ‘exploded’ since 1987;

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UNCTAD - ISDS claims - Known ISDS cases, annual and cumulative (1987–2014)

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The same UNCTAD report reveals who is being sued by corporations;

In 2014, 60 per cent of all cases were brought against developing and transition economies, and the remaining 40 per cent against developed  countries.

In total, 32 countries faced new claims last year. The most frequent respondent in 2014 was Spain (five cases), followed by Costa Rica, the Czech Republic, India, Romania, Ukraine and the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela (two cases each). Three countries – Italy, Mozambique and Sudan – faced their first (known) ISDS claims in history.

Addendum3

The Economist reported;

Multinationals have exploited woolly definitions of expropriation to claim compensation for changes in government policy that happen to have harmed their business. Following the Fukushima disaster in Japan in 2011, for instance, the German government decided to shut down its nuclear power industry. Soon after, Vattenfall, a Swedish utility that operates two nuclear plants in Germany, demanded compensation of €3.7 billion ($4.7 billion), under the ISDS clause of a treaty on energy investments.

This claim is still in arbitration. And it is just one of a growing number of such cases. In 2012 a record 59 were started; last year 56 were. The highest award so far is some $2.3 billion to Occidental, an oil company, against the government of Ecuador, over its (apparently lawful) termination of an oil-concession contract.

The Huffington Post reported;

Canada is the most-sued country under the North American Free Trade Agreement and a majority of the disputes involve investors challenging the country’s environmental laws, according to a new study.

[…]

About 63 per cent of the claims against Canada involved challenges to environmental protection or resource management programs that allegedly interfere with the profits of foreign investors.

The government has lost some of these environmental challenges and has been forced to overturn legislation protecting the environment.

In 1997, the Ethyl Corporation, a U.S. chemical company, used chapter 11 to challenge a Canadian ban on the import of MMT, a gasoline additive that is a suspected neurotoxin and which automakers have said interferes with cars’ diagnostic systems. The company won damages of $15 million and the government was forced to remove the policy.

A year later, U.S.-based S.D. Myers challenged Canada’s temporary ban on the export of toxic PCP waste, which was applied equally to all companies. Canada argued it was obliged to dispose of the waste within its own borders under another international treaty. However, the tribunal ruled the ban was discriminatory and violated NAFTA’s standards for fair treatment.

The Age reported;

Egypt raised its minimum wage at the beginning of last year [2014]. It wasn’t much by Australian standards, just $74 a month, but for a state employee on 700 Egyptian pounds a month ($102), a rise to 1200 pounds is not to be derided.

A French multinational with operations in Egypt, however, did not like this minimum-wage effrontery. A couple of months later, Veolia, the global services juggernaut, bobbed along and sued Egypt for the grievous disadvantage it had suffered thanks to the industrial relations changes.

Veolia’s claim relies on ISDS provisions in a trade treaty between Egypt and France.

Addendum4

The Philip Morris lawsuit is expected to cost Australian taxpayers $50 million to defend, and proceedings will be held in Singapore, before a secret tribunal.

Addendum5

Two MFAT “fact sheets” – Investment and ISDS and  Market Access for Services and Investment – offer a government view of the TPP Agreement. The actual text of the TPPA will not be released for several weeks, giving National Ministers a monopolistic opportunity to push the government position, unchallenged.

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References

TV1 Q+A: PM on TPP – ‘We’ve never ever been sued’

Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade: Trans Pacific Partnership – Investment and ISDS

Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade: Trans Pacific Partnership – Market Access for Services and Investment

Legislation.govt.nz: Smoke-free Environments (Tobacco Plain Packaging) Amendment Bill

TV3 The Nation: Interview – Trade Minister Tim Groser (transcript)

Daily Mail Online: Cigarette giant Philip Morris sues Australian government for billions over plain packaging law

Parliament: Health Committee Report – Smoke-free Environments (Tobacco Plain Packaging) Amendment Bill – 5 August 2014

Ministry of Health: Excise on Tobacco: Proposed Changes

McCabe Centre for Law and Cancer: Philip Morris Asia Challenge under Australia – Hong Kong Bilateral Investment Treaty

UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD): Recent Trends in IIAs and ISDS (pg6)

Yahoo-Channel 7 News: Tobacco giant sues Australia

Sydney Morning Herald: Australia faces $50m legal bill in cigarette plain packaging fight with Philip Morris

The Age: Trade deals acronym really translates to ‘we lose’

Additional

Radio NZ – Focus on Politics: A closer look at the TPP

Radio NZ – Focus on Politics for 14 February 2014

Radio NZ: Plain packaging bill passes first hurdle

NZ Herald:  Most MPs set to back plain-package smokes

Smokefree Coalition: The health effects of smoking

The Economist: The arbitration game

Huffington Post: NAFTA’s Chapter 11 Makes Canada Most-Sued Country Under Free Trade Tribunals

Previous related blogposts

Some thoughts on the Plain Packaging Bill

Public opposition grows against TPPA – Wellington

Public opposition grows against TPPA – Wellington

Annette King on the TPPA

Even Tim Groser was in the dark?!

Joyce, TPPA, and wine exports

The Mendacities of Mr Key # 13: Kiwisaver – another broken promise

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TPP-burger and dead rat

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This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 13 October 2015.

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TPPA – media reports and blogposts

12 October 2015 2 comments

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TPP_map-660x330

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On Tuesday 6 October, the announcement was made that  TPPA negotiations had been completed and signed by the twelve participating nations. The following Radio NZ interviews, as well as other media reports and blogposts, present a wide-ranging picture of this event…

Radio NZ – Morning Report

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Trans-Pacific Partnership signed in Atlanta - radio nz

Trans-Pacific Partnership signed in Atlanta

The Trans-Pacific Partnership deal has been reached in the early hours of this morning in Atlanta. (alt. link)

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Special trade envoy says TPP dairy deal was always going to be tough - radio nz

New Zealand’s special agricultural trade envoy Mike Petersen returned from Atlanta early this week, but has been kept up to date on the latest developments. (alt. link)

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Some key facts about the TPP deal - radio nz

The deal once ratified by the twelve countries will be phased in with some parts not coming into full effect for as long as 25 years. (alt. link)

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Former US trade representative reacts to TPP announcement - radio nz

Former US trade representative reacts to TPP announcement. And as we’ve been reporting this morning the Trans-Pacific Partnership deal has been reached in the early hours in Atlanta. (alt. link)

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Labour's reaction to overnight TPP deal announcement - radio nz

Listening to that is Annette King — the Labour Party’s acting leader.(alt. link)

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International trade policy expert on overnight TPP deal - radio nz

Joseph Stiglitz on the Trans-Pacific Partnership deal,  reached in the early hours in Atlanta. (alt. link)

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More analysis on the TPP deal with our economics correspondent - radio nz

With us again is our economics correspondent Patrick O’Meara. (alt. link)

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Fonterra's chairman John Wilson on TPP deal - radio nz

Fonterra’s chairman John Wilson says the TPP outcome for dairy is far from perfect but he appreciates the effort made by the trade minister Tim Groser and his negotiators and some progress in market access has been made. (alt. link)

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Radio NZ – Nine to Noon

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The trade pact TPP - what will it mean for NZ - radio nz

“It’s been called the most sweeping trade pact in a generation, and will affect 40 percent of the world economy. The Trans-Pacific Partnership was finally signed overnight in Atlanta. It will cut trade barriers and set common standards for 12 countries. But the devil remains in the detail … and the written details have yet to be released. Crawford Falconer is a professorial chair in Global Value Chains and Trade at Lincoln University and a former trade negotiator with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade.” (alt. link)

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Business commentator Rod Oram - radio nz

Business commentator Rod Oram;

The TPPA, the Government’s new science investment strategy and banking arrangements. (alt. link)

 

 

 

 

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Jane Kelsey, Scoop media

National government betrays NZers in TPPA deal

Tuesday, 6 October 2015, 12:16 pm
Press Release: Jane Kelsey

‘This deal is a travesty of democracy’, said Professor Jane Kelsey about the conclusion of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) in Atlanta, USA.

‘The government has ignored, insulted and lied to its citizens.’

‘Minister Groser has misled New Zealanders. He always knew he was on a hiding to nothing on dairy. I have predicted many times that he would not do as he said and walk away from a lousy deal, but would make claim that there were some intangible future gains from being in the club. That’s exactly what’s happened’. (read more)

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TVNZ  News

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TPP deal agreed, but not an ‘ideal result’ for NZ key exports

7.03am

The Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) has been sealed in the US overnight with New Zealand agreeing to terms with 11 other countries.

Trade Minister Tim Groser told TVNZ’s Breakfast this morning it hasn’t been an “ideal result” for New Zealand’s key exports.

However, TPP opponent Professor Jane Kelsey said “government has ignored, insulted and lied to its citizens” and that “this deal is a travesty of democracy”.

Access for our dairy products to key markets Canada and Japan have not been as fulsome as first hoped, with several countries refusing to remove all blocks to free trade for New Zealand’s beef and dairy exports. (read more)

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‘This deal is a travesty of democracy’ – reaction to TPP agreement

1.27pm

The controversial Trans-Pacific Partnership was sealed in the US overnight, with New Zealand agreeing to terms with 11 other countries including the US and Japan. 

Here is some of the reaction: (read more)

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Fairfax media

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Ministry breaks down TPPA tariff gains; dairy, meat the biggest winners

Countries negotiating the Trans-Pacific Partnership may have finally come to an agreement but the dominant source of support for the New Zealand dollar is still the United States interest rate debate. 

New Zealand and 11 other Pacific Rim countries, including the United States, Japan and Canada, reached a deal on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) after the anticipated announcement on Monday was dragged out due to a sticking point regarding access to international markets for New Zealand dairy.

The Kiwi was trading at US64.64 cents on Monday afternoon, lifting to US65.09c on Tuesday morning. (read more)

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Labour to carry on regardless of TPPA – Ardern

Benn Bathgate
Last updated 15:42, October 6 2015

A Labour Government will make laws without regard to the controversial Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement and if necessary “face the consequences”.

That was the view of Jacinda Ardern, Labour MP and spokesperson for small business, speaking at a Chamber of Commerce event in Rotorua on Tuesday.

“When we’re in Government we’ll continue to legislate as we would and we’ll face the consequences,” she said. (read more)

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Canty manufacturer excited about TPPA

Alan Wood
Last updated 15:43, October 6 2015

Christchurch Metal foundry AW Fraser expects to be one of many manufacturers to benefit from the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA).

Canterbury manufacturers say the needs of the dairy sector have dominated too much when it comes to the pluses and minuses of reaching the trade deal.

Members of the New Zealand Manufacturers and Exporters Association (NZMEA) say that dairy only represents 20 per cent of the country’s exports. (read more)

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Tv3 News

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TPPA countries reach deal

Tuesday 6 Oct 2015 5:20 a.m.

New Zealand’s failed to get all trade barriers for its beef and dairy exports lifted as part of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA).

After several days of intense negotiations in the US city of Atlanta, trade ministers from the 12 countries involved in the TPPA announced they had reached agreement on the world’s largest free trade pact early today (NZ time).

One of the major sticking points in the negotiations was securing greater access for New Zealand dairy products to a number of protected markets. (read more)

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TPPA response swift, varying

By Aziz Al-Sa’afin and 3 News online staff
Tuesday 6 Oct 2015 10:09 a.m.

An urgent law change proposed by New Zealand First would mean international treaties need to be approved by Parliament before they are signed.

The policy comes after the massive and controversial Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) was agreed to by New Zealand and 11 other Pacific countries today.

Reaction to the TPPA has ranged from descriptions of it being a “betrayal” and “disappointing” to hugely congratulatory.  (read more)

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TPPA: What you need to know

By 3 News online staff

After years of tough negotiations, New Zealand and 11 other Pacific Rim countries have agreed to the massive Trans-Pacific Partnership deal, but what does it mean?

The deal was agreed to early this morning (NZ time) and gets rid of 93 percent of tariffs on New Zealand exports, but Prime Minister John Key admits not eliminating tariffs on dairy was “disappointing”.

The deal is expected to be worth $2.7 billion a year by 2030. (read more)

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TPP agreement boosts NZ shares

Tuesday 6 Oct 2015 6:25 p.m.

New Zealand shares have gained after agreement was reached on the Trans Pacific Partnership deal.

The S&P/NZX 50 Index rose 37.57 points, or 0.7 percent, to 5668.11 today. Within the index, 30 stocks rose and 11 fell. Turnover was $113 million.

Overnight 12 Pacific Rim nations including New Zealand reached a deal on the controversial TTP, which covers 40 percent of the global economy. (read more)

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NZ Herald

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Fran O’Sullivan: TPP deal – Tim Groser puts foie gras on dead rats

Tim Groser’s brinksmanship in the final brutal hours of the marathon Trans Pacific Partnership negotiations secured New Zealand a deal on dairy.

The Trade Minister had to swallow a “few dead rats”. But there’s still plenty of what Groser earlier termed “foie gras” to make for an tasty trade package estimated to be worth $2.7 billion a year for NZ by 2030.

Groser has not secured a gold-plated outcome – as far as NZ’s prime export is concerned – but considerable gains have been made through controlled market access for dairy to major consumer markets like the US, Japan, Mexico and Canada. (read more)

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TPP deal: Now 90 days for scrutiny

Now the Trans Pacific Partnership talks have concluded, New Zealand and the 11 other countries must tick several boxes before the agreement can be brought into force.

Under a rule set by the United States, any agreement cannot be signed until 90 days after negotiations end, to allow time for full consideration of its pros and cons. The same rule also says the agreement’s full text must be made available to the public after 30 days.

In New Zealand, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs will provide a report to the Cabinet on the costs and benefits. The Cabinet will then decide whether to approve the agreement. (read more)

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TPP deal ‘failed to deliver for NZ’ – Labour

The Labour Party says the Trans Pacific Partnership appears to have failed to deliver for New Zealand with few gains for dairy farmers and potential implications for medicines.

Deputy leader Annette King would not say this morning whether the party would back the deal because details about its contents were “scant”.

“[Trade Minister] Tim Groser did say that there would be some ugly compromises,” she said. “We would now like to see what those ugly compromises were.” (read more)

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TPP deal: New Zealand and 11 other countries strike Pacific trade pact

Audrey Young & Jamie Gray,

• TPP deal struck after final, brutal hours of negotiations
• Hailed as the biggest deal of a generation
• Has power to affect 40 per cent of world’s economy
• NZ dairy sector is disappointed
• Tariffs on 93 per cent of NZ exports to new free trade to be eventually eliminated
• But no change to the 20-year patent period for pharmaceuticals

After years of talks, the controversial and secretive Trans Pacific Partnership trade deal has been finalised. (read more)

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Dr Pat Neuwelt: Doctors not prepared to swallow TPP pill

11:20 AM Tuesday Oct 6, 2015

Now that the Ministerial Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) meetings in Atlanta are completed New Zealanders are one step closer to being locked into a comprehensive new set of rules.

At this stage we still don’t know the details of what Minister Groser’s self-confessed “ugly compromises” are, but we know enough to be certain the agreement has us on the road to stagnation in health and to drive up the cost of medicines. The only question is, by how much?.

It is difficult, at this point, to trust that the government has fully assessed the pros and cons of the deal for New Zealanders now and in the future. (read more)

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Charles Finny: TPP quite different, isn’t it?

1:55 PM Tuesday Oct 6, 2015

I was interviewed on Morning Report by Kim Hill on the TPP outcome. I answered every question as accurately as I could based on the facts that had been made public on the negotiating outcome.

Clearly there were a few inconvenient truths there as I was attacked pretty solidly and pretty viciously by a number of people from around the world on social media.

This should not have surprised anyone. (read more)

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‘What do I do now?’ – Tim Groser

After the completion of exhaustive TPP talks in Atlanta, Trade Minister Tim Groser sounded anything but elated as he talked down the phone at 3 am.

“I feel like I used to feel after university exams,” he said with a certain battle-weariness.

“I would be studying 20-hour days and I would be thinking ‘I cannot wait for the exams to finish’ and then when they finished I would feel slightly ‘well, what do I do now?'”  (read more)

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The Dim Post

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First thoughts on the TPPA

October 6, 2015 6:46 am

I am a little staggered that they actually made a deal. The Herald article on the deal is here:

  • ‘Mr Groser is very upbeat about the overall result, which will be published later today, but less so on dairy.’
  • Access for dairy was literally Groser’s one job when negotiating this deal and he has, characteristically, failed to do it. I’m not that worried though. We’re already well over the environmental capacity for dairying. It’s probably costing more in long-term environmental costs than its earning in export revenue. So the last thing we needed was a trade deal incentivising more dairy. Best case scenario is that this new deal encourages exporters to move up the value chain and make high quality high wage products instead of shipping raw logs and milk powder.
  • ‘There will be no change on the current patents for biologic medicines, although an extension on copyright by 20 years will be phased in.’ (read more)

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The Standard

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TPPA agreement reached

Written By: mickysavage, 7:28 am, October 6th 2015

The deal has been done. We are told that it is the best thing since sliced bread although we are not allowed to know the details.

Tobacco companies will not be allowed to use the investor state resolution procedure which is a good thing. All other industries will however which is very bad. Stand by for the lawyering to start.

Dairy will have a minuscule increase in the amount it can export. Milk powder access will be phased in over 25 years. Fran O’Sullivan describes Groser’s analysis of the deal as putting fois gras on a number of dead rats. (read more)

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As expected, TPPA gives a peanut return

Witten by: lprent,  9:15 am, October 6th 2015

In 15 to 25 years, the expected tariff reduction return to NZ will be (summarized by kiwiblog)

The Beehive site has some details on the deal. The savings on tariffs, once full implemented by sector are:

  • Dairy $102 million
  • Meat $72 million
  • Fruit and vegetables $26 million
  • Other agriculture $18 million
  • Wine $10 million
  • Manufacturing $10 million
  • Forestry $9 million
  • Fish $8 million
  • Wool $4 million

Somewhere around $260 million per year in possible benefits long after I have retired. The upbeat guesstimates by the beehive propaganda sheet say

“The full benefit of TPP is estimated to be at least $2.7 billion a year extra in New Zealand’s GDP by 2030.” (read more)

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No Right Turn

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Just a bit shit really

So, the biggest trade deal in a generation has been finalised. The thing National was pinning all of its hopes of economic success on, John Key’s “something special”. And it turns out to be just a bit shit really, because it doesn’t include dairy. New Zealand’s primary industry, the whole reason why we engage in these talks, and absent some reduced tariffs on cheese in twenty years or so, its excluded. Slow clap, Mr Groser. Heckuva job you’ve done there. You’ve totally earned that knighthood you were gunning for, you royalist suckup. (read more)

MPs are listening on open diplomacy

One area of huge public disquiet around the TPP negotiations is secrecy: everything about them is secret, and a precondition of negotiations was accepting a “confidentiality” agreement forbidding the release of negotiating material for five years after any deal is agreed. The net result is that “our” government has been telling its negotiating partners things without telling us, enabling them to lie to us about what they are negotiating away. And they were explicitly caught doing so on the issue of the investment-state dispute settlement clause. (read more)

 

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Public Address

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TPP, eh?

by Rob Salmond, 11:05 Oct 6, 2015

As everybody knows, the TPPA deal is settled, and we can expect a full text to scrutinise within a month.

The deal really is a very big one globally; it’s just not such a big deal for New Zealand.

It looks to me like the biggest loser in the deal is Mexico. It doesn’t get much in the way of market access that it didn’t already have via NAFTA, and the US-Japan deal on autos hurts a lot of Mexican factories purpose-built to supply auto parts from Japanese car companies into the US. (read more)

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Pundit

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TPP can help lift incomes in New Zealand but to make a difference for people, there’s a lot more work still to do.

The TPP was never going to be the miracle that shot New Zealand to the top of the global supply chain. Neither was it ever going to be the Darth Vadar of deals where American corporations got to destroy the planet. 

It was always going to be a little bit disappointing to everyone. The deal calls for Vietnam to allow free unions and Malaysia to stop people smugglers, but in most countries there aren’t enough gains for politicians to campaign on it. Stephen Harper doesn’t want the text made public until after the Canadian election and Hilary Clinton’s team just want the damn thing off the agenda by 2016. (read more)

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The Daily Blog

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How bad is the TPPA? Read this now!

By Martyn Bradbury, October 6, 2015 

We have been conned into agreeing to this madness. This is a geopolitical war it isn’t a bloody trade agreement and our media have utterly ignored this dimension to the TPPA.

This isn’t a gold standard deal, it’s a gold plated deal. Groser and Key have come back after selling our cow at the free market with 3 magic TPPA beans.

The winners here are corporations and the people have lost. (read more)

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Gordon Campbell

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On the TPP deal reached in Atlanta

October 6th, 2015 If the TPP was the Rugby World Cup, the New Zealand team probably wouldn’t be making it out of pool play. While the final details will not emerge for a month, the TPP is offering disappointing returns for New Zealand… and over a very long phase-in period… of up to 25 years in major areas important to us, even though many of the concessions we have made would take immediate effect. Typically, Prime Minister John Key has already been spinning the “93% tariff free” outcome across the TPP region, as if that situation was entirely due to the TPP deal. To get that figure, Key is adding all pre-existing tariff reductions and adding them to the TPP. To take a relevant example… 80% of US trade with other TPP members is already duty free. (read more)

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TPPA jack of all spades - cartoon

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This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 7 October 2015.

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Categories: Media, The Body Politic Tags: ,

Letter to the editor – Joyce, TPPA, and wine exports

11 October 2015 9 comments

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Frank Macskasy - letters to the editor - Frankly Speaking

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from: Frank Macskasy <fmacskasy@gmail.com>
to: Listener <letters@listener.co.nz>
date: Thu, Oct 8, 2015
subject: Letter to the editor

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The editor
The Listener

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As National ministers go all-out to extol the virtues of the TPPA (whilst studiously looking the other way and ignoring any nasty surprise fish-hooks), Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce added his five cents worth.

On 6 October, speaking on TV3, Joyce gushed like a school boy on a class outing;

“The meat industry, the fruit industry, the wine industry, the forestry industry, the manufacturing industry – all of these get the benefits.”

The wine industry?

According to Peter Howland’s book, “Social, Cultural and Economic Impacts of Wine in New Zealand”, more than 80% of this country’s wine production is now foreign-owned.

Which means that up to 80% of profits could flow back to off-shore investors and end up in overseas bank accounts.

How does that benefit New Zealand?

What was the purpose of the TPPA – to maximise profits for foreign investors? Is that our role now?

I am reminded of something that our esteemed Prime Minister said about foreign ownership of our land-based production;

“I’d hate to see New Zealanders as tenants in their own country…”

Meanwhile, as foreign owners of our wine industry benefit, it is only a matter of time before the price of pharmaceuticals begin to rise in New Zealand.

Key has promised that the cost of medicines subsidised by Pharmac will not increase to consumers, but that increased costs will be met by government.

But where does government get its money from? Answer: taxpayers.

So whether as consumers or taxpayers, one way or another, we will end up paying for higher prescription charges.

We should also not forget that in 2012 National increased the cost of Pharmac-subsidised medicines from $3 to $5 – a move which impacted on low-income families and the chronically sick.

The rationale for increasing prescription charges? To offset a rise in other health costs, according to then-Health Minister, Tony Ryall.

Remember also that not all medicines are subsidised by Pharmac. Many New Zealanders are about to get a nasty shock at their local Chemists.

Any bets when the TPPA will increase the cost of our medicines?

And how long before Key flip-flops again on his assurance that the cost of medicines will not rise?

Our esteemed Prime Minister has a long track record of saying one thing, and later doing the complete polar-opposite.

But at least foreign owners of our wine production will be happy. Cheers!

-Frank Macskasy

 

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[address & phone number supplied]

Acknowledgement for info on wine-production ownership: E-clectic

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References

Fairfax media: No increased medicine costs under TPPA

Fairfax media: How the land lies in foreign hands

NZ Herald:  PM warns against Kiwis becoming ‘tenants’

Fairfax media:  Prescription cost to rise to help pay for Budget

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Letter to the editor – Even Tim Groser was in the dark?!

10 October 2015 8 comments

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Frank Macskasy - letters to the editor - Frankly Speaking

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from: Frank Macskasy <fmacskasy@gmail.com>
to: Dominion Post <letters@dompost.co.nz>
date: Wed, Oct 7, 2015
subject: Letter to the editor

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The editor
Dominion Post

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On TV1 News on 7 October, commenting on the recently signed TPPA, Trade Minister Tim Groser admitted;

“It’s going to take time for people to absorb this, there’ll be things in the detail that even I don’t know about, we had a team of 15 people, it wasn’t just done by Tim Groser for heavens sake.”

There are “things in the detail that even Groser doesn’t know about”?

Is he having us on?

So not only was the entire country in the dark about the contents of the TPPA – but it seems that our esteemed Trade Minister signed us up to an agreement where he was not fully cognisant of the details?
What kind of irresponsible government commits an entire country to an agreement where the finer details are not known? Where even the Trade Minister candidly admits his ignorance of “the details”?

So this is National – the Party of supposedly “responsible economic management”.

Anyone for a new flag? Put an ass on it.
Frank Macskasy

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[Address & phone number supplied]

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References

TV1 News: ‘We just rolled over and had our tummy tickled’ – Labour angst at TPP land deal

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Categories: The Body Politic Tags: ,

Letter to the editor – Annette King on the TPPA

8 October 2015 6 comments
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Frank Macskasy - letters to the editor - Frankly Speaking

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from: Frank Macskasy <fmacskasy@gmail.com>
to: Sunday Star Times <letters@star-times.co.nz>
date: Wed, Oct 7, 2015
subject: Letter to the editor

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The editor

Sunday Star Times

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From a sound-bite aired on  TV1 News on 7 October,  Annette King criticised the recently-agreed TPPA for denying New Zealand the right to choose it’s own destiny with regards to land and house ownership. She said that as a future Labour-led government;

“We retain the right under any trade deal to put the sovereignty of New Zealand first.”

Those are powerful words.

Question is; will a Labour-led government exercise that right?

After Helen Clark’s recent disappointing performance, I am not reassured.

Frank Macskasy

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[Address & phone number supplied]

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Public opposition grows against TPPA – Wellington

22 August 2015 7 comments

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NZ, Wellington, 15 August – In an otherwise grey, gloomy sky, much-heralded  rain made only a brief appearance with a few drops of moisture, as Wellingtonians and citizens from further afar congregated at Midland Park in the heart of the city. The first sign was held aloft on the footpath, just outside the park proper – an indication of what lay ahead;

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TPPA - trans pacific partnership agreement - protest march - wellington - 15 august 2015

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Some artistry adorning poster roundels;

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TPPA - trans pacific partnership agreement - protest march - wellington - 15 august 2015

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A damned good question posed on this placard;

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TPPA - trans pacific partnership agreement - protest march - wellington - 15 august 2015

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A wide variety of other placards awaited bearers;

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TPPA - trans pacific partnership agreement - protest march - wellington - 15 august 2015

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John Key has said that even if the medicines that Pharmac buys “cost a little bit more“, that government will pay for it and citizens will not have to pay a cent extra;

“If it did pay a little bit more, then the Government would fund that and New Zealanders would pay the same amount.”

Firstly – where does Key think the money comes from that Government would use to top up Pharmac’s drugs-bill in the event that the TPPA pushed up the costs of medication?  From the bloody tax-payer, you Tory Twat!

Secondly, having to pay for increased costs of medicines would mean that other areas of healthcare would inevitably  have their budgets cut.

And thirdly, Key is in no position to promise anything on keeping the cost of medicines down. His government has already  increased the cost of Pharmac medicines in 2012 from $3  to $5.

Who on Earth would trust Key not to do it again?

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TPPA - trans pacific partnership agreement - protest march - wellington - 15 august 2015

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The ‘Brass Razoo‘ band entertained the crowd, with “Uncle Scam” danced to the ominous sounding “Star Wars Imperial Theme“;

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TPPA - trans pacific partnership agreement - protest march - wellington - 15 august 2015

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New Zealanders voicing their concerns over the secrecy over the TPPA;

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TPPA - trans pacific partnership agreement - protest march - wellington - 15 august 2015

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If the deal is so good – why is the National Government keeping it secret from us? Negotiators from all participating counties know exactly what is in the texts. Only the public are not privy to the same information.

From a phrase that TPPA negotiator, Minister  Tim Groser, has been known to use;

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TPPA - trans pacific partnership agreement - protest march - wellington - 15 august 2015

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“Obama” being “arrested” by “pirates”, and charged with “treason”;

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The media was well represented, and both TV channels gave good coverage of the protests up and down the country;

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TPPA - trans pacific partnership agreement - protest march - wellington - 15 august 2015

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From younger to older generations;

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TPPA - trans pacific partnership agreement - protest march - wellington - 15 august 2015

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The Park quickly filled. Numbers swelled well beyond previous anti-TPPA protests;

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TPPA - trans pacific partnership agreement - protest march - wellington - 15 august 2015

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Marchers moved through Wellington’s CBD, growing in number along the way;

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TPPA - trans pacific partnership agreement - protest march - wellington - 15 august 2015

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Traffic came to a standstill, as the procession wound along the length of Lambton Quay, toward Parliament;

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TPPA - trans pacific partnership agreement - protest march - wellington - 15 august 2015

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Past the Cenotaph, where we commemorate fallen soldiers who made the ultimate sacrifice for our sovereignty;

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TPPA - trans pacific partnership agreement - protest march - wellington - 15 august 2015

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Once again, as with past protest marches,  the main gates to Parliament were firmly locked…

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TPPA - trans pacific partnership agreement - protest march - wellington - 15 august 2015

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… forcing thousands of citizens to squeeze through two narrow side gates. The contempt shown by those in ‘Authority’, to the New Zealand people exercising their lawful right to protest,  is unmistakeable.

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TPPA - trans pacific partnership agreement - protest march - wellington - 15 august 2015

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With young citizens leading the way…

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TPPA - trans pacific partnership agreement - protest march - wellington - 15 august 2015

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– the grounds rapidly filled with people;

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TPPA - trans pacific partnership agreement - protest march - wellington - 15 august 2015

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Numbers ranged from   Radio NZ’s 3,000 to Fairfax’s 5,000 in attendance. The northward view;

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TPPA - trans pacific partnership agreement - protest march - wellington - 15 august 2015

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The southward view;

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TPPA - trans pacific partnership agreement - protest march - wellington - 15 august 2015

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It was interesting (and refreshing) to  see the large numbers of families and young people present. This was not simply a turn-out of the usual, committed, anti-TPPA activists – these were citizens expressing their disquiet (and outright opposition) over a deal being negotiated in secret, and which would have far-reaching ramifications for our society.

Tangata Whenua showed their concerns at the secret TPPA deal-making that was going on in our name, behind closed doors;

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TPPA - trans pacific partnership agreement - protest march - wellington - 15 august 2015

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Secretary of the NZ Council of Trade Unions, Sam Huggard, explained why the TPPA would be bad for workers rights. He gave the example of trans-national corporations suing the Egyptian government for merely trying to implement a minimum wage;

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TPPA - trans pacific partnership agreement - protest march - wellington - 15 august 2015

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The big corporations, when they were cooking up this agreement in their high rises in Wall Street and Washington DC, and the politicians like John Key and Tim Groser who do their bidding, were hoping that the agreement would go through without this level of dissent.  We weren’t meant to have a say, that wasn’t in their model.
They weren’t counting on the health sector mobilising over access to medicines.  They didn’t want Maori mobilising to question how Treaty of Waitangi protections were being affected by this secret agreement.  They were hoping the tech sector wouldn’t get organised around the impact on copyright laws.   And they didn’t want to see unions critiquing the anti-worker provisions in the TPPA, like the Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) provisions, provisions that were recently used against the government of Egypt – sued by French multinational Veolia Group in response to Egypt increasing the minimum wage.
None of this was part of the plan.  They wanted the agreement to go through quietly.  But we wont let that happen.

Gay Keating, from Doctors for Healthy Trade, explaining why the TPPA will harm healthcare in New Zealand;

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TPPA - trans pacific partnership agreement - protest march - wellington - 15 august 2015

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Someone did the sums that its going to cost a billion over ten years if they stretch out the costs for the length of patents.

[…]

One of the things that’s pushed so many people in the health sector into being absolutely furious about this agreement is that is the wayit’s going to push people who are healthy, into sickness.

And it’s the processes which make it more difficult for countries to bring in controls on unhealthy products.

You’ve all heard about the $50 million pricetag that Australia’s facing in terms of Stage One of the fightback [by] the tobacco companies.

That’s what we’re signing up to in this agreement.

[…]

The biggest health threat of our century and our children’s century and our moko’s century is climate change.

We need to be able to control greenhouse gases and we need not be handcuffed.

Our government must not be handcuffed for health.

Todd Rippon, from Actors Equity NZ, detailed how a previous “free trade” agreement had reduced the amount of locally produced drama on our television screens. He said the TPPA would be even worse;

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Performer’s lives are directly affected by trade policy. We have been hit hard with the blunt end of a big stick by that World Trade Organisation deal.

We know what it feels like to be cast aside to make way for extremely rich US corporations. I think you know what I’m talking about, yeah?

Signing the TPPA will not only make a bad situation worse for us performers, but it’ll make it worse for virtually every aspect our beautiful country.

Every aspect of our beautiful, tiny, vulnerable country.

Nothing will be untouched.

You name it; health, environment, education, Treaty obligations – no way. They will be wiped out in the name of international profiteering.

Don’t let that happen!

Documentary producer, Bryan Bruce, was well-received by the crowd and spoke well about the nature and problems of the TPPA. He condemned the potential eight to ten year extension of patents for medicines, saying that this would inevitably lead to people dying needlessly for want of treatment;

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TPPA - trans pacific partnership agreement - protest march - wellington - 15 august 2015

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What’s on the table is human misery. The poor have as much right to health as the rich.

Bryan  concluded with this warning for National if they went ahead and passed the TPPA;

We will not forget and we will not forgive them.

To  listen to Bryan’s thought-provoking speech, go to  Mick McCrohon’s video on Youtube.

Blues singer, Darren Watson and Delia Shanly on drums entertained the assembly with a rendition of  ‘Planet Key’. The  words were slightly amended to reflect on the issue-of-the-day. He also sang another of his original songs, ‘I Got Your Office Right Here‘, full of satire and good natured poking-fun-at-John Key.

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TPPA - trans pacific partnership agreement - protest march - wellington - 15 august 2015

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One lone female protestor managed to evade the barriers and Parliamentary security. She made her way to the top of the steps and sat down, adopting a peaceful meditating-position;

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TPPA - trans pacific partnership agreement - protest march - wellington - 15 august 2015

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Other protestors also jumped or skirted the barriers to dance on the Parliamentary forecourt, as Mick McCrohon’s video on Youtube  shows.

It should be pointed out that though protestors “breached the security cordon”, they did not – as the Police and Mainstream Media have reported – try to “storm the steps of Parliament”. That never happened. (In fact, if any mainstream media were present when this occurred, I did not witness their presence.)

A video-recording in my possession clearly shows young people rushing to the steps, and then sitting down on the first half dozen steps  – before police arrived to reinforce the half-dozen Parliamentary security guards standing over the protestors. The handful of protestors made no effort to “storm” the steps, as some have mistakenly claimed. They stopped and sat down before Police arrived (which my video also clearly shows).

See: Citizens face Police armed with tasers at Wellington TPPA protest march

Eventually, the protest ended and the good people of Wellington (and further afield) dispersed;

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As they arrived, they departed; in peace.

Let us hope that this National government has received the message they left.

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References

Parliament: Little, Andrew – Oral Questions — Questions to Ministers

Fairfax media: Prescription cost to rise to help pay for Budget

Parliament: 7. Trans-Pacific Partnership—Scope of Negotiations and Release of Information

Huffington Post: Corporate Courts – A Big Red Flag on ‘Trade’ Agreements

Youtube: TPPA PROTEST Wellington 15th.August 2015 Speaker Bryan Bruce

Youtube: TPPA Protest – Dancers Storm The Barricades At NZ Parliament Building

Acknowledgement

Appreciation to Mick McCrohons Youtube video’s, to complete this report.

Main Stream Media

Fairfax media: Thousands march against TPP trade agreement

NZ Herald: Thousands rally against TPP across New Zealand

Otago Daily Times: Thousands turn up to rally against TPP

RadioLive: Thousands urge govt. to ditch TPPA

Radio NZ: Thousands turn out to protest TPP

TV3 News: Thousands march against TPPA deal

TVNZ News: TPP protesters push through barriers at Parliament

Previous related blogposts

Roosting chickens

Citizen A – 29 Nov 2012 – TPPA Special

TPPA: Business launches propaganda campaign

TPPA: Doomsday scenarios, Critics, and flights of fancy

Open message to the Middle Classes about the threat of the TPPA

Nationwide Rally Against the TPPA – Day of Action!

They marched against the TPPA and the threat to our sovereignty (part tahi)

They marched against the TPPA and the threat to our sovereignty (part rua)

The Mendacities of Mr Key #5: Has Tim Groser shown the P.M. to be a liar on the TPPA?

Nationwide Day of Protest Captures Public Attention on TPPA

Opposing the TPPA – the Heavens hold their deluge ’till the People speak

Citizens face Police armed with tasers at Wellington TPPA protest march

Other blogs

No Right Turn: Help end TPP secrecy

Theocracidal: Thousands Protest TPPA, Cthulhu’s office minions hide under desks

The Standard: Groser – an arrogant git with a tin ear

The Standard: TPPA Protest review

Support groups

Facebook: Oil Free Wellington

Facebook: It’s Our Future – Kiwis concerned about the TPPA

Website:  It’s Our Future

Facebook: Aotearoa is Not for Sale

Action Stations: A Secret Trade Deal So Terrifying That Parliament Isn’t Even Allowed To Know What It Says

Facebook: TPPA Action Group – Wellington

OraTaiao New Zealand Climate and Health Council

Copyright (c) Notice

All images stamped ‘fmacskasy.wordpress.com’ are freely available to be used, with following provisos,

» Use must be for non-commercial purposes.
» Where purpose of use is commercial, a donation to Child Poverty Action Group is requested.
» At all times, images must be used only in context, and not to denigrate individuals or groups.
» Acknowledgement of source is requested.

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This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 17 August 2015.

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Citizens face Police armed with tasers at Wellington TPPA protest march

21 August 2015 3 comments

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NZ, Wellington, 15  August – Anti-TPPA protesters, many of them young people in their teens and early 20s, faced off against police armed with tasers on the steps of Parliament.

Believed to be the first time that armed police have deployed tasers in a non-violent, non-threatening situation, at least five police officers were visibly carrying the potentially lethal devices on their belts;

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TPPA - trans pacific partnership agreement - protest march - wellington - 15 august 2015

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TPPA - trans pacific partnership agreement - protest march - wellington - 15 august 2015

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At least five  weapons were clearly visible, with other policemen and woman wearing bulky jackets that may or may not have concealed more of the devices.

Though there was some minor jostling between one protester and a Parliamentary security guard, there was no violence or any other physical contact between police and members of the public.

The confrontation began when a lone protester made her way to the top of the Parliamentary steps, and seated herself, adopting a meditating position. For a short time, three police attempted to persuade her to move, though no force was used.

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TPPA - trans pacific partnership agreement - protest march - wellington - 15 august 2015

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She was followed by others, who also jumped or skirted around the security fence separating the grassy area from the paved Parliamentary forecourt.

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As their numbers swelled to approximately a hundred, extra police arrived quickly and with Parliamentary Security, formed a cordon across the steps leading up to Parliament.

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TPPA - trans pacific partnership agreement - protest march - wellington - 15 august 2015

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March organisors and Marshalls attempted to quell the situation by asking people to move back from the steps, without much success.

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Eventually,  jostling and shouting gave way to a calmer atmosphere as March organisors encouraged a constant stream of speakers to address the crowd. The tiny volatile minority, numbering perhaps half a dozen, joined others seated on the steps. One activist played his guitar and sang songs, though at one point he declined a request for “anything by Dave Dobbin“.

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After about a hour, the crowd on the Parliamentary forecourt dispersed of their own volition. Police numbers also reduced, with officers leaving the scene.

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There was no apparent reason for tasers to be deployed on this occasion. The sight of these weapons incited many in the crowd to angry outbursts toward the police.

More than one person was overheard asking what possible use  four or five tasers would have been against a crowd numbering in the hundreds.

One person, who requested anonymity,  said to this blogger;

“Whoever authorised these guns to be brought out needs their head read. It’s a grim day when cops feel the need to show these things when they’re faced with ordinary New Zealanders engaged in lawful protest. It’s like something out of ‘Sleeping Dogs’.  Really, is this where we’ve ended up, armed cops facing off against women and kids? God help us.”

On this occasion, a tense situation was prevented from escalation not by show of force, but by the wit of organisors who distracted the ‘hot heads’ and encouraged dialogue and engagement.

The best strategy in this stand-off was patience.

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Previous related blogposts

Citizen A – 29 Nov 2012 – TPPA Special

TPPA: Business launches propaganda campaign

TPPA: Doomsday scenarios, Critics, and flights of fancy

Open message to the Middle Classes about the threat of the TPPA

Nationwide Rally Against the TPPA – Day of Action!

They marched against the TPPA and the threat to our sovereignty (part tahi)

They marched against the TPPA and the threat to our sovereignty (part rua)

The Mendacities of Mr Key #5: Has Tim Groser shown the P.M. to be a liar on the TPPA?

Nationwide Day of Protest Captures Public Attention on TPPA

Opposing the TPPA – the Heavens hold their deluge ’till the People speak

Citizens face Police armed with tasers at Wellington TPPA protest march

Support groups

Facebook: Oil Free Wellington

Facebook: It’s Our Future – Kiwis concerned about the TPPA

Website:  It’s Our Future

Facebook: Aotearoa is Not for Sale

Action Stations: A Secret Trade Deal So Terrifying That Parliament Isn’t Even Allowed To Know What It Says

Facebook: TPPA Action Group – Wellington

OraTaiao New Zealand Climate and Health Council

Copyright (c) Notice

All images stamped ‘fmacskasy.wordpress.com’ are freely available to be used, with following provisos,

» Use must be for non-commercial purposes.
» Where purpose of use is commercial, a donation to Child Poverty Action Group is requested.
» At all times, images must be used only in context, and not to denigrate individuals or groups.
» Acknowledgement of source is requested.

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TPPA-cartoon-trans pacific partnership

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This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 16 August 2015.

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To Annette King – we’ll hold you to that!

7 August 2015 1 comment

 

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no-tppa

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Right up until last week, National’s ‘spin’ on the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) was that it would not be permitted to impact on Pharmac or it’s ability to buy cheap, generic medicines.

Four years ago;

We have laid down the fundamentals of a position which says our public health system is not up for negotiation, not part of any trade negotiation, and I can’t conceive of any New Zealand government that would change that view.

Pharmac is an incredibly valuable institution that provides high quality medicines to many New Zealanders at very, very highly subsidised, reasonable prices. The fundamentals of that model are not up for negotiation. ” – Tim Groser, 16 November 2011

Three years ago;

If the Government agreed completely with the demands of American pharmaceutical companies, the negotiation would probably be over. It is not. It is a long, complex negotiation, and the New Zealand Government’s position is to preserve the role and effectiveness of Pharmac. ” – Bill English, 6 December 2012

Two years ago;

I think it’ll have a very marginal impact, at the end of the day.  It certainly won’t result in higher prices for pharmaceutical products for New Zealanders.  This is really about protecting the model of Pharmac to ensure that they’re in a tough negotiating position with international pharmaceutical companies, and we’ve got some very good negotiators who are doing just that. ” – Tim Groser, 

Last year;

There will be no fundamental change in Pharmac’s operations as a result of the trade agreement.”

You’ll have to wait to see the final agreement but any decisions we take in terms of trade-offs will protect the essential public health system of this country.” – Tim Groser, 22 October 2014

And this year, only a week ago;

“…yes, I can guarantee that we’ve made it absolutely clear that we are not going to dismantle the fundamental of Pharmac. The provisions that guarantee affordable medicines – we don’t want to change the system of health we’ve got in our country so that people can get medicines only if they can afford it. We’ve got a very good system, and we’re not going to let any trade agreement interfere with that.” – Tim Groser, 25 July 2015

Barely three days later, there was this startling admission from our esteemed Dear Leader, John Key,  that all was not quite so ‘rosy’ in the Land of Free Trade Deals;

That means the Government will have to pay for the original drug rather than the generic for a little bit longer. But for consumers that won’t make any difference because, you know, on subsidised drugs you pay $5 for your prescription so the Government may incur slightly more costs there.

Which vividly illustrates how, for the past four years, National has been lying to us, the New Zealand public.

It was only as TPPA negotiations drew to a close, that Key had to finally concede that there would be an impact on Pharmac and it’s ability to purchase low-cost generic medicines. The same TPPA will also impact on non-subsidised medicines purchased by New Zealanders, as not all attract subsidies by Pharmac.

On 29 July, Labour’s response was damning of the TPPA, and Health Spokesperson, Annette King stated matter-of factly;

Some people are going to pay with their lives because if they extend the patent, particularly on drugs for cancer and heart disease, and we can’t get access to the generic drugs for longer, then people are not going to get that access and they won’t have the opportunity to extend their lives.

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“Some people are going to pay with their lives.” - Labour's Health Spokesperson, Annette King

“Some people are going to pay with their lives.” – Labour’s Health Spokesperson, Annette King

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In which case, an incoming Labour Government has two options;

1. Raise taxes for those New Zealanders who voted National last year.

This is their responsibility, and should foot the bill for any increases to Pharmac’s purchasing budget. After all, National maintains itself as the “Party of Personal Responsibility“, so National voters should bear the costs of this mess; ie, ‘You voted for it, you pay for it’.

But since it is difficult to ascertain who voted for National last year, this option may not be practical.

2. Withdraw from the TPPA.

We simply cannot be party to an international trade agreement (or any other agreement for that matter) where “some people are going to pay with their lives”. That is simply untenable – especially for a Labourled government.

The seriousness of the TPPA’s effects on Pharmac (and non-subsidised medicines) is such that Labour must not be allowed to back-track on it’s criticisms, and has a duty to  withdraw from this appalling “trade” agreement.

If “some people are going to pay with their lives because … they extend the patent, particularly on drugs for cancer and heart disease”, then the TPPA must go. No New Zealander’s life is worth a “trade” agreement, no matter how much milk-powder we might sell overseas.

National ministers such as John Key, Tim Groser, Bill English, et al, have consistently, unashamedly, lied to us over the years. I do not expect Labour to follow in those footsteps.

This will be an issue I will be following, and I will be relentless in pursuing it, post-2017 (or earlier).

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TPPA action 8 august 2015

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Wednesday, August 12
at 12:00pm
New Zealand Parliament Buildings
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Friday, August 14
at 5:00pm
Palmerston North City Library
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Saturday, August 15
at 1:00pm
Midland Park, Lambton Quay
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Saturday, August 15
at 1:00pm
Napier
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Saturday, August 15
at 1:00pm
Timaru
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Saturday, August 15
at 11:00am
Kohukohu Village Green

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Saturday, August 15
at 1:00pm
School of Dentistry, Great King Street, Dunedin (near the Museum)
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References

Interest.co.nz: Pharmac fundamentals not on TPP table, Trade Minister Groser

Parliament: Hansards – 5. Trans-Pacific Partnership – Forecast Economic Benefits, Potential Effect on Pharmac, and Investor-State Dispute Provisions

Scoop media/TV1: Tim Groser adamant Trans-Pacific Partnership good for NZ

Radio NZ: Medicines ‘won’t cost more under TPP’

TV3: The Nation – Transcript – Trade Minister Tim Groser

Radio NZ:  TPP – Key admits medicine costs will rise

Radio NZ: Govt warned TPP could put lives at risk

National Party: About National

Previous related blogposts

Citizen A – 29 Nov 2012 – TPPA Special

TPPA: Business launches propaganda campaign

TPPA: Doomsday scenarios, Critics, and flights of fancy

Open message to the Middle Classes about the threat of the TPPA

Nationwide Rally Against the TPPA – Day of Action!

They marched against the TPPA and the threat to our sovereignty (part tahi)

They marched against the TPPA and the threat to our sovereignty (part rua)

The Mendacities of Mr Key #5: Has Tim Groser shown the P.M. to be a liar on the TPPA?

Nationwide Day of Protest Captures Public Attention on TPPA

Opposing the TPPA – the Heavens hold their deluge ’till the People speak

Letter to the editor – More reassurances from our esteemed Dear Leader?

Action

Facebook: Lunchtime rally against TPPA WELLINGTON

Facebook: It’s Our Future – Kiwis concerned about the TPPA

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Trust me fellow kiwis - John Key

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This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 1 August 2015.

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Letter to the editor – More useless reassurances from our Dear Leader

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Frank Macskasy - letters to the editor - Frankly Speaking

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from: Frank Macskasy <fmacskasy@gmail.com>
to: NZ Herald <letters@herald.co.nz>
date: Wed, Jul 29, 2015
subject: Letter to the editor

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The editor
NZ Herald

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Admissions by our esteemed Prime Minister that the TPPA will impact on Pharmac’s ability to source cheap, generic medicines from overseas, are deeply troubling.

On 25 July, Trade Minister, Tim Groser, said;

“…yes, I can guarantee that we’ve made it absolutely clear that we are not going to dismantle the fundamental of Pharmac. The provisions that guarantee affordable medicines – we don’t want to change the system of health we’ve got in our country so that people can get medicines only if they can afford it. We’ve got a very good system, and we’re not going to let any trade agreement interfere with that.”

Three days later, Key conceded;

“That means the Government will have to pay for the original drug rather than the generic for a little bit longer. But for consumers that won’t make any difference because, you know, on subsidised drugs you pay $5 for your prescription so the Government may incur slightly more costs there.”

It is not the government that ” will have to pay for the original drug rather than the generic for a little bit longer”. That honour falls on the taxpayer.

Those extra costs may be reimbursed by the government – at the expense of other health services which will see their budgets slashed. National has a track record of shifting money around in the Health Budget.

Will National increase prescription charges again, as they did in 2013? Increasing prescription charges from $3 to $5 hit poor families the hardest.

The secretive nature of negotiations have proven that there was good reason to be suspicious of the TPPA.

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-Frank Macskasy

 

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[Address and phone numbr supplied]


 

References

Radio NZ:  TPP – Key admits medicine costs will rise

TV3: The Nation – Transcript – Trade Minister Tim Groser

Previous related blogposts

Children’s Health: not a high priority for Health Minister Tony Ryall

 


 

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TPPA-cartoon-558x400

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Letter to the editor – More reassurances from our esteemed Dear Leader?

29 July 2015 3 comments

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Frank Macskasy - letters to the editor - Frankly Speaking

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from: Frank Macskasy <fmacskasy@gmail.com>
to: Listener <letters@listener.co.nz>
date: Wed, Jul 29, 2015
subject: Letter to the editor

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The Editor
The Listener

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Recent admission by our esteemed Prime Minister that the TPPA will likely see an increase in pharmaceutical costs for Pharmac is both disturbing but unsurprising. The secretive nature of the TPPA negotiations hinted at a “sting in the tail” that would impact on our healthcare.

On 25 July, Foreign Trade Minister, Tim Groser, promised hand on heart in an interview on ‘The Nation’;

“…yes, I can guarantee that we’ve made it absolutely clear that we are not going to dismantle the fundamental of Pharmac. The provisions that guarantee affordable medicines – we don’t want to change the system of health we’ve got in our country so that people can get medicines only if they can afford it. We’ve got a very good system, and we’re not going to let any trade agreement interfere with that.”

But only three days later, Key conceded;

“That means the Government will have to pay for the original drug rather than the generic for a little bit longer. But for consumers that won’t make any difference because, you know, on subsidised drugs you pay $5 for your prescription so the Government may incur slightly more costs there.”

Key’s assurances are questionable.

It should be pointed out that it is not Government that “will have to pay for the original drug rather than the generic for a little bit longer” – it is the taxpayer.

That extra cost for medicines will have to come from the Health Budget and one has to ask what will be cut back? Hip operations for the elderly? Grommets for children? Eye cataract surgery for the blind? National has a track record for shifting money from one area of healthcare to another, to appear as if funding has been “increased” for the lucky recipient.

Or will National simply increase prescription charges to cover increased pharmaceutical costs for Pharmac? National has already increased prescription charges from $3 to $5 in 2013 – a move that impacted on the sickest, poorest, and most vulnerable in this country.

Not for one moment do I accept Key’s assurances on this issue. He has gone back on his word before, and I expect him to do it again.

-Frank Macskasy

 

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[address and phone number supplied]


 

References

Radio NZ:  TPP – Key admits medicine costs will rise

TV3: The Nation – Transcript – Trade Minister Tim Groser

Previous related blogposts

Children’s Health: not a high priority for Health Minister Tony Ryall


 

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toby morris - tppa - cartoon

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Nationwide Day of Protest Captures Public Attention on TPPA

15 November 2014 7 comments

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scaling the heights of  capitalism

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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;

 

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tppa-protest-wellington-8-november-2014

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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;

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tppa-protest-wellington-8-november-2014.

There was a wide assorted of signs, most of which had been hand-made in the traditional Kiwi style of DIY…

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… 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;

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Others yet were even more imaginative and colourful – whilst still clear in their opposition to the TPPA;

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Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement - TPPA - protest - Wellington - Cuba Mall - 8 november 2014

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The marchers made their way through the streets of Wellington’s shopping precinct, behind this banner;

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tppa-protest-wellington-8-november-2014

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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;

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tppa-protest-wellington-8-november-2014

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… and they kept coming;

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tppa-protest-wellington-8-november-2014

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Until most of the the Civic Square was filled;

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tppa-protest-wellington-8-november-2014

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Sandra explained why this march had ended at Wellington’s Civic Square instead of Parliament;

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KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

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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
concerns.

So we’re here to tell the Wellington city Council, the Wellington Regional Council,
Porirua, Hutt, that TPPA NO WAY!

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Some macabre street theatre;

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tppa-protest-wellington-8-november-2014

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The Mana Party’s presence was still very much in evidence;

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tppa-protest-wellington-8-november-2014

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More not-so-ordinary Wellingtonians, with their home-made placards expressing discontent at government secrecy and signing away our sovereign rights;

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tppa-protest-wellington-8-november-2014

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This fellow’s message was blunt, short, and very much to-the-point;

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tppa-protest-wellington-8-november-2014

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The many faces of  opposition to National’s ideological crusade to empower multinational corporations at our expense;

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tppa-protest-wellington-8-november-2014

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Former Green MP and Wellington City Councillor, Sue Kedgley, addressed the protesters;

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tppa-protest-wellington-8-november-2014

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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
removed.

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
tppa.

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;

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tppa-protest-wellington-8-november-2014

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Sandra introduced Ariana, from the Wellington TPPA Action Group;

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tppa-protest-wellington-8-november-2014

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Ariana said,

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
interest…

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;

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tppa-protest-wellington-8-november-2014

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The media, in evidence (though Radio NZ under-estimated numbers by a whopping 100%);

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tppa-protest-wellington-8-november-2014

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Hannah from Oil Free Wellington had this to say on the TPPA;

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tppa-protest-wellington-8-november-2014

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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.

http://pacific.scoop.co.nz/2014/11/questions-and-answers-november-6/

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
change.

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;

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tppa-protest-wellington-8-november-2014

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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
beings intact.

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
and land.

After Greg’s rousing speech, Matt gave another performance with his protest-style songs – this time,  Were 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 !!

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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;

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tppa-protest-wellington-8-november-2014

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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;

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tppa-protest-wellington-8-november-2014

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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!

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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.

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TPPA Explained in Three Minutes

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References

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

Scoop Media: Thousands of Kiwis plan National Day of Action against TPPA

NZ Herald: Thousands gather to protest trade agreement

Previous related blogposts

Citizen A – 29 Nov 2012 – TPPA Special

TPPA: Business launches propaganda campaign

TPPA: Doomsday scenarios, Critics, and flights of fancy

Open message to the Middle Classes about the threat of the TPPA

Nationwide Rally Against the TPPA – Day of Action!

They marched against the TPPA and the threat to our sovereignty (part tahi)

They marched against the TPPA and the threat to our sovereignty (part rua)

The Mendacities of Mr Key #5: Has Tim Groser shown the P.M. to be a liar on the TPPA?

Support groups

Facebook: Oil Free Wellington

Facebook: It’s Our Future – Kiwis concerned about the TPPA

Website:  It’s Our Future

Facebook: Aotearoa is Not for Sale

Action Stations: A Secret Trade Deal So Terrifying That Parliament Isn’t Even Allowed To Know What It Says

Facebook: TPPA Action Group – Wellington

OraTaiao New Zealand Climate and Health Council

Other Blogs

On the Left: TPPA – The monster in our future

The Daily Blog: Anti-TPPA march from above

The Standard: Marching in the streets

Copyright (c) Notice

All images stamped ‘fmacskasy.wordpress.com’ are freely available to be used, with following provisos,

» Use must be for non-commercial purposes.
» Where purpose of use is commercial, a donation to Child Poverty Action Group is requested.
» At all times, images must be used only in context, and not to denigrate individuals or groups.
» Acknowledgement of source is requested.

 

 

 


 

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TPPA thuggery

Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen/Lurch Left Memes

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 10 November 2014

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The Mendacities of Mr Key #5: Has Tim Groser shown the P.M. to be a liar on the TPPA?

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lying politician

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In the ongoing debate on the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement negotiations, Dear  Leader John Key has been at pains to try to reassure New Zealanders that any TPPA document would be “first  presented to Parliament”.

On 1 October 2013, Key said;

With all [free trade agreements] the way that they work is that have to be ratified by Parliament, and we have to build a parliamentary majority, and all of that has to happen through the transparency of the deal.”

“…my advice is that the Trans-Pacific Partnership will require legislation, so, ultimately, once it has gone through the select committee and the public have had their chance to have input, and it has gone through all of those various stages, the Government of the day will require a parliamentary mandate, so by definition people would have had a lot of input.”

And on 31st March this year, Key asserted on NewstalkZB;

In the end, this thing has to go through our Parliament has to be ratified by our Parliament and has to bear scrutiny and I believe is in the best interests of New Zealand.”

Professor Jane Kelsey was one of many who countered Key’s assertions that Parliament would “ratify” any final agreement. Also on 31 March, she stated;

 “How many times do the Prime Minister and other members of the government have to be hauled up for misrepresenting the role of Parliament in making treaties, especially the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement’? The Prime Minister is either woefully ignorant of the fundamental process of treaty making, as set out in the Cabinet Manual, or he is wilfully misrepresenting the process to the New Zealand public.

Parliament’s role in treaty making is largely symbolic. It has no power to decide whether or not the TPPA should be signed or ratified and no ability to change its terms TPPA or require it to be renegotiated.

The select committee process is a farcical exercise because its members know they cannot change the treaty.

At most, Parliament could refuse to pass legislation that is required to bring a particular law into compliance with the TPPA. But the government will have plenty of non-legislative ways to achieve compliance.”

Finally, on 15 June, on TVNZ’s Q+A, National’s own Trade Minister, Tim Groser responsible for TPPA negotiations clearly and utterly refuted any notion that the TPPA would have to be “ratified” by Parliament;

.

“Oh well, we wouldn't put [this] before the New Zealand Parliament. If we're the government of the day, that has to put the ratifying legislation through Parliament, a deal didn't make a great deal of sense to New Zealand.”

Oh well, we wouldn’t put [this] before the New Zealand Parliament. If we’re the government of the day, that has to put the ratifying legislation through Parliament, a deal didn’t make a great deal of sense to New Zealand.”

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Note the first part of Groser’s response to interviewer,  Corin Dann;

Oh well, we wouldn’t put [this] before the New Zealand Parliament.

There we have it. The Trade Minister himself confirming what Jane Kelsey and other critics of the secret deal-making  surrounding the TPPA have said all along: once the government agrees to a final document, it will not require ratification by Parliament.

John Key making a mistake once, is understandable.

John Key repeating that same mistake at least  three times is no longer a “mistake”. It becomes willful misinformation. A deliberate lie.

Caught out again – this time by one of his own Ministers!

Charge: broken promise/deflection/half-truth/hypocrisy/outright lie/misinformation?

Verdict: Outright lie/misinformation

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References

TV3: Key accused of spreading TPPA ‘mistruths’

Parliament:  Questions for Oral Answer — Questions to Ministers

NewstalkZB:  Key defends TPPA negotiations

Scoop media: One more time, PM: Parliament does not get to ratify TPPA

TVNZ: Government may not seek bipartisan support for a TPP – Groser

Previous related blogposts

The Mendacities of Mr Key #4: “Trolls & bottom-feeders”

 


 

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TPPA thuggery

Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen/Lurch Left Memes

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 16 June 2014.

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They marched against the TPPA and the threat to our sovereignty (part rua)

9 April 2014 7 comments

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Continued from: They marched against the TPPA and the threat to our sovereignty (part tahi)

 

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no-tppa

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The New Zealand government is negotiating an international agreement that could have a huge effect on the lives of ordinary kiwis. It’s called the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA), and it involves eleven Asian and Pacific-rim countries, including the United States. If it goes ahead, we risk damage to our innovative economy, our pristine environment, our health, and the ability to shape our own future.

Because the negotiations are being conducted in secret, what we know about the TPPA comes from leaked documents and detective work. We live in a democracy, which means we have the right to know what is done in our name and to have a say. “ –  It’s Our Future – Kiwis concerned about the TPPA

Wellington, NZ, 29 March 2014 – Over three hundred people in Wellington took to the streets on a fine Saturday afternoon, to protest at secret TPPA negotiations and the threats to our national sovereignty.

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anti TPPA march_30 march 2014_wellington (94).

The marchers took off…

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anti TPPA march_30 march 2014_wellington (166).

Some symbolism here?

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anti TPPA march_30 march 2014_wellington (164).

An eagle-eyed reader will notice… no police presence!

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anti TPPA march_30 march 2014_wellington (167).

At first, marchers  stuck to the footpaths to keep out of the way of traffic. But as on-lookers joined in, numbers swelled, and they took to the road;

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anti TPPA march_30 march 2014_wellington (168).

Along the “Golden Mile” – Lambton Quay – the march of citizens made an impressive sight;

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anti TPPA march_30 march 2014_wellington (105).

As the marchers reached the Cenotaph, a lone police vehicle appeared, to control traffic;

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anti TPPA march_30 march 2014_wellington (106).

The protestors moved past the Cenotaph, toward Parliament’s gates;

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anti TPPA march_30 march 2014_wellington (169).

In Parliament’s grounds, protestors made their way up the driveway;

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anti TPPA march_30 march 2014_wellington (170) - Copy.

Standing before the People’s Parliament – behind steel barricades and a contingent of private security guards (off camera) –  Claire Bleakley, from the  GE Free Network.  Steel barriers. (Steel barriers. Obviously, National are terrified that 300+ anti-TPPA protesters might storm Parliament and seize control of the entire country.)

Claire gave a short, but ‘punchy’ speech on the link between the TPPA and genetically modified organisms entering our country through unfettered “trade”;

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anti TPPA march_30 march 2014_wellington (125).

“…One of the biggest things that’s happening America is the advent of genetically modified crops. Which are coming into our country. With the TPPA we will will be trading away our right to know what we are eating…

… We have to protect our seeds. We have to protect our sovereignty. And we have to protect our food.”

Meanwhile, in a sign of some irony, anti-TPPA protesters  stood beneath the fluttering flags of other nations – several of which are participants in TPPA negotiations;

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anti TPPA march_30 march 2014_wellington (117).

Green Party MP, Gareth Huges, (clockwise, from top left) being interviewed by a TV1 camera crew; Green Party supporters; Gareth and a young potential future Green voter; and Gareth addressing the gathering.

.anti TPPA march_30 march 2014_wellington (171) - Copy.

Chris McKenzie, from the Maori Party, voiced his opposition to the TPPA, saying it would harm Maori interests;

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anti TPPA march_30 march 2014_wellington (144).

A couple of people in the crowd took exception to Chris’ comments and, after being handed a bullhorn, began to chant,

“Cross the floor!

Cross the floor!!”

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anti TPPA march_30 march 2014_wellington (146).

When Chris responded that he would pay no heed to “a couple of haters”, others in the crowd immediately took up the chant,

“Cross the floor!

Cross the floor!!”

 

Chris and his fellow Maori Party activists responded with a stirring haka, but the damage had been done – they had likely lost the support of most of the protesters. They are, after all, members of the Maori Party, which supports the National-led government with Supply and Confidence votes in the House. So what did they expect?

Kudos to them, at least, for having the balls to participate in the protest. That is courage of a magnitude several times greater than any Maori Party MPs – who could not be bothered to front.

Next up – Tim Jones, from the anti-coal-mining group, Coal Action Network Aotearoa, aka,  “Keep the Coal in the Hole”;

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anti TPPA march_30 march 2014_wellington (133).

” We’re working to stop new and expanded coal mining because mining and burning coal is the single biggest threat to the world’s climate. This government is very keen to mine and burn coal, along with all the other mining, drilling, and fracking it wants to do.

We need a government that cares about climate change and we need a government that’s willing to take action on it. We also need a government that is actually able to take action on it. As you’ve heard, if the TPPA is passed, foreign corporations will be able to sue any New Zealand government that brings in tougher rules on the environment [and]  that brings in tougher rules against greenhouse gas emissions.

That means even a government that wants to act on climate change, and that certainly isn’t the current government, might have it’s hands tied.

Do you want overseas companies to have the last word on Aotearoa’s environment and climate change policies?

… So let’s stop the TPPA, and let’s get rid of this government, and it’s mining company mates, and let’s start taking real action on climate change.”

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anti TPPA march_30 march 2014_wellington (173).

Perhaps one of the longest banners ever at a protest rally, this one measured well over 20 metres, and the message read,

“TPPA: Taking Aotearoa’s sovereignty away! TPPA: No mandate. Stop gambling with our future! People B4 profits. Stop foreign corporate takeover! TPPA = selling out NZ. Signing the TPPA is treachery!!!”

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NZEI members leaving the  International Summit on the Teaching Profession, holding their “Living Wage” placards;

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When Iwi leaders condemned the protest, Mana’s Hone Harawira was none-to-happy at what he called  “iwi leaders becom[ing] so servile and sycophantic” to the National government.

Hone spoke from the heart and said some things that – for a politician – was quite extraordinary! In all my years listening to politicians speak, I have never heard any say the things he did;

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anti TPPA march_30 march 2014_wellington (148).

“Whatever happens, whatever happens, don’t kid yourself that because you’re all standing that side of the fence, you’re all friends with each other. Know this, if you’re not fighting for the sovereignty of this nation, then you’re on the wrong bloody side, that side, or this side, of the fence.

If the TPPA is aimed at taking away the sovereignty outlined in the Treaty of the Waitangi and replacing it with an economic sovereignty owned by people from far, far, away, and unless we do something to stop it, all of us, those on that side of the fence and those on this of the fence that you can trust, then we ain’t going to change it. Be up for struggle, and be up for a fight.

And know that unless we stand strong on this, these bastards are going to win.

There’s no reason why anybody in this country should accept our sovereignty being negotiated [away] in secret, in Singapore, in New York, and in London. There is no reason, why anybody in this country should accept that this country, and this country’s own government, cannot legislate in the interests of New Zealand citizens only to have those decisions overturned by big tobacco in the World [Bank] Court. There is no reason why anybody here should accept that big drug companies can overthrow the right of PHARMAC to let all citizens in this country to get low cost medicines.

And there no reason to accept the reason why […background noise…] Maori and alternative medicines should be pushed out and made illegal simply to keep international drug lords in big fat profits.

So, I don’t really care about this being a Mana thing or a Green thing or a Labour thing or an anybody thing. Because this thing here is about all us standing together. Come the election 2014,  look only… to the parties that are absolutely dedicated to changing the government we have now. Look only to those parties that are absolutely dedicated to changing this government we’ve got now, and put your vote in any one of them.

And honestly, I don’t really care if you’re not going to vote for Mana, but vote only for those who will change the government. Don’t vote for those, don’t vote for those, who’ve got a dollar over here and a dollar over here.

This Agreement is not a win-win deal. Any party that signals their willingness to go with this government, or may go this way , or that way, is not a friend of what we’re trying to achieve on this stage…

… There are no deals on our sovereignty.”

It was  startling to hear Hone Harawira utter those words – made all the more amazing because it is not the usual thing one expects from politicians. I cannot recall a single politician ever, anywhere, calling on people to vote on an issue first, and not for themselves or their Party!

Finally, to remind ourselves,

” There are no deals on our sovereignty.”

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References

NZEI: Living Wage for Learning events to call for a fair go

TV3: Iwi leaders slam NZEI protests

Scoop media: No prestige In Trying To Hide Poverty

Additional

NewstalkZB: Thousands march against TPPA

Support groups

Facebook: It’s Our Future – Kiwis concerned about the TPPA

Facebook: Aotearoa is Not for Sale

Coal Action Network Aotearoa

Copyright

All images stamped ‘fmacskasy.wordpress.com’ are freely available to be used, with following provisos,

» Use must be for non-commercial purposes.
» Where purpose of use is commercial, a donation to Child Poverty Action Group is requested.
» At all times, images must be used only in context, and not to denigrate individuals or groups.
» Acknowledgement of source is requested.

Acknowledgement

This blogger wishes to thank Mana Party organisor, Ariana Paretutanganui-Tamati, for kindly lending me her camera. Mine finally gave up the mechanical ghost and I would not have been able to complete this blogpost without her timely assistance. I am deeply appreciative of her kindness and trust.

– Frank Macskasy

 

 

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vote mana labnour green

Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 3 April 2014.

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They marched against the TPPA and the threat to our sovereignty (part tahi)

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no-tppa

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The New Zealand government is negotiating an international agreement that could have a huge effect on the lives of ordinary kiwis. It’s called the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA), and it involves eleven Asian and Pacific-rim countries, including the United States. If it goes ahead, we risk damage to our innovative economy, our pristine environment, our health, and the ability to shape our own future.

Because the negotiations are being conducted in secret, what we know about the TPPA comes from leaked documents and detective work. We live in a democracy, which means we have the right to know what is done in our name and to have a say. “ –  It’s Our Future – Kiwis concerned about the TPPA

Wellington, NZ, 29 March 2014 – Over 300 people gathered on a sunny, breezy day in downtown Wellington’s Cuba Mall, as party of a nation-wide protest against the proposed Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA);

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anti TPPA march_30 march 2014_wellington (17)

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James Nokise, Comedian/Performer, MC’d the event, and spoke with just the right ‘mix’ of humour and  seriousness to the people;

 

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James Nokise - Comedian - Performer

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Though an  estimated 300 people attended the protest,  at times there seemed far more, as Cuba Mall was packed;

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anti TPPA march_30 march 2014_wellington (46)

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anti TPPA march_30 march 2014_wellington (68).

The TPPA is currently being negotiated in secret, a point of fact which many find anti-democratic; threatening; and just plain unfair;

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anti TPPA march_30 march 2014_wellington (161)

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Others understand the reality that the TPPA is not concerned with our welfare – but of the welfare of corporates to do as they wish, with minimal democratic oversight;

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anti TPPA march_30 march 2014_wellington (42)

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Tom Rippon, Vice President for New Zealand Actors Equity, addressed the people and  had this to say on implications for the TPPA;

“Some of you may be aware that New Zealand gave up nearly all of its ability to regulate local content on our televisions in 1994. Under the General Agreement for Terms and Trade, or GATT for short, Jim Bolger’s National government, promised unlimited market access to any foreign broadcast service and their products if they were a signatory to the The World Trade Organization. In other words any moves to introduce regulation for local content including a compulsory television quota, similar to those seen in most if not all western countries, would breach our WTO obligations.

Subsequently, when Helen Clark’s government sought to introduce ways to support the production of local content they were completely hamstrung by this agreement and were rendered powerless to turn back the clock.

I should note here that the government did make one reservation relating to Maori broadcasting. And we’re very glad they did, or we wouldn’t have the successful and culturally vital Maori Television Service — which to this day continues to screen the highest proportion of locally produced content compared to all the other broadcasters.

In 2011, New Zealand content accounted for a measly 31% of all programming from 6am to midnight. This compares to a much healthier 60% in Europe and 55% in Australia. New Zealand performers are the living embodiment of our culture. Every time we step in front of the camera, every time we perform, we tell a story articulating our nation’s hopes, dreams and experiences. This ability to speak to one another with our own voice must be maintained into the future.

[…]

The Trans-Pacific Partnership is the GATT agreement on steroids. A corporate power grab on a scale never before seen in human history. This treaty is so repugnant that if a full text of the negotiations were released to the public tomorrow it would cease to exist by the end of the week because anyone with a brain and a gag reflex would reject it outright and the politicians involved in the negotiations, in our case John Key and his Trade Minister Tim Groser, would be forced to pull out due to overwhelming public pressure and condemnation.

Let’s not forget, this is an election year. As performers we have been stymied and constrained for two decades but this is where we draw the line, for the sake of our future generations our government must ensure that our culture is protected and reject the Trans-Pacific Partnership. And you must let them know that if they don’t, come Sept. they will pay the price and together we will vote them out.”

(For full text of his speech, please click here.)

In case Dear Leader believes that the hundreds who turned up on Saturday afternoon were “professional protesters”, the abundance of home-made signs indicated otherwise. These were ordinary Wellingtonians turning up, to show their opposition to the TPPA;

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Young and old, all cultures and races, and the ubiquitous Every Man and his dog;

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Some of the many signs expressing peoples’ views;

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Bolivian  Indigenous Rights activist,  Mayra Gomez, addressed the people, telling them how so-called “free” trade agreements had opened countries up to lawsuits by corporations. Ms Gomez said that the  the TPPA  would likewise allow foreign corporations to sue New Zealand for perceived “loss of profits;

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Ms Gomez gave three examples of how corporations had used “free” trade agreements to sue sovereign governments.

In her first example, she cited the case of  US-based Occidental Petroleum winning a US2.4 billion lawsuit against Ecuador, at a World Bank Court, under the US-Ecuador Bilateral Investment Treaty, when the Ecuadorian government terminated its contract with Occidental citing breaches of licensing conditions and   environmental concerns.

In a second and even more bizarre example,   RENCO Group sued  Peru for $800 million because the Peruvian government had ordered the corporation to clean up lead pollution which had severely affected the children of La Oroya –  one of ten most polluted places on earth, according to Friends of Earth. RENCO used the US-Peru Free Trade Agreement to undertake it’s lawsuit.

And lastly, Ms Gomez revealed how US-based company, Lone Pine Resources, sought $250 million in “damages”,  claiming that  Canada had violated its North  America Free Trade Agreement committments – because it had imposed a moratorium on fracking in 2012, to conduct  environmental-impact assessments on the impacts of leached fracking chemicals and gases.

Ms Gomez concluded with a short, simple statement that drew heavy applause from the people;

“Until self-determination of indigenous people is not respected, there will not be sustainable goals achieved! Genuine sustainable goals! Lastly we call on the repeal of all existing agreements; a moratorium on all new agreements!”

Interesting to note that none of the problems caused by free trade agreements have ever been reported by any mainstream media in this country. It is up to overseas new media, bloggers, etc, and special interest groups to report on these events.

Because of the mainstream media “blackout” on these stories, very few New Zealanders are aware of what has happened in Ecuador, Peru, and even Canada – a fellow First World, Commonwealth state. Had these issues been properly reported, most New Zealanders would be horrified at the prospect of joining yet another free trade agreement that could leave us exposed to corporate lawsuits in offshore, secret tribunals.

The trivialisation of the media is so complete, that it is utterly derelict in it’s duty to report on issues that will have far-ranging consequences for all New Zealanders, for the foreseeable future.

As an example of media laziness, I refer the reader to this screenshot of NewstalkZB reporting on the nationwide protests;

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newstalkzb article - thousands march against tppa

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As the reader will notice, NewstalkZB could not even bring itself to post a photo of any of the actual protests, from any of the cities. Instead, it used a stock footage image of police, lined up against a building, from a totally unrelated event.

Ms Gomez was followed by  Victoria University economist, Geoff Bertram;

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“Following up the placard that’s to my right, that says “TPPA is not free trade”. Economists have put a lot of effort and time over the last century, into making the case that free trade can be a good idea from which all can benefit. And ndeed, any of you can go down and buy a flat screen tv and computer down at Tory Street will be familiar with the benefits you can get from free trade. But this deal is not about that. It’s being sold with two terms that you should not be taken in by. One is free trade. The other one is partnership. This is not really about partnership. It’s not really about free trade.

The sort things that are central to the so-called trade trade part of the agenda are in the area of non-tariff barriers. That is to say, restrictions on the ability of certain companies or agents to gain access to markets on terms thatr are favourable to them. So things like copyright,intellectual property, regulatory arrangements, and so on are central to negotiations agenda and it’s important to note that economic theory does not give the sort sort of support for removing non-tariff barriers.”

Geoff  explained about the “partnership” aspects of the TPPA,

“… About partnerships. Partnerships can come in various forms… in actual fact partnerships can also be extremely unequal and exploitative. And this one is not an equal partnership. This one is part of a geo-political project which has in the Pacific has the United States aghainst China, in a contest over influence and power and economic control across a wide area of the world. And New Zealand is stuck in the middle of this conflict because China is our biggest trading partner [and] the United States is a very major part-player in both our history and current economy and politics.”

Geoff Bertram pointed out a story in the Dominion Post where the United States was seeking to extend it’s influence by offering to help the European Union reduce it’s dependence  on Russian gas supplies by selling them gas instead. He said the US would first demand that Europe sign a Trans Atlantic partnership agreement. The Europeans, he said, “were  particularly anxious about the Investor-State Dispute Settlement arrangements” in the Partnership Agreement. Germany had refused to participate. There was strong resistance in Europe to signing the agreement.

Geoff said that the US pressuring of the Europe Union to join the partnership agreement “is what you’re looking at there is the exercise of power – it’s not the working out of economic theory, it’s the exercise of power“.  He read out a statement from President Obama, from a recent media story, that he said explained precisely was “free” trade agreements were all about,

“Once we have a trade agreement in place, export licenses for projects — for liquefied natural gas destined to Europe — would be much easier, something that’s obviously relevant in today’s geopolitical climate.”

He warned that power was “asymmetric in the modern world” and that New Zealand stood to be primarily on the losing side of any “power exercising that comes into play”. He further warned that we should be “very careful about stories” that the TPPA was supposedly about free trade.

His speech was simple, easy to understand by those of us who are not trained in the esoteric “arts” of economics, and had a ring of truth to it. He was warmly received by those listening.

As the afternoon progressed, numbers swelled, as more people arrived to join in with the protest and listen to speakers;

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anti TPPA march_30 march 2014_wellington (30)

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Men and women, maori and pakeha, standing together in solidarity, on an issue that will affect us for generations to come;

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anti TPPA march_30 march 2014_wellington (58)

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These are the faces of ‘ordinary’ (maybe not-so-ordinary – actually extraordinary!) New Zealanders who are concerned at the secrecy of the TPPA and the negative impact it will have on our sovereignty, as  New Zealand opens itself up to the threat of multi-billion dollar lawsuits by trans-national corporations;

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anti TPPA march_30 march 2014_wellington (35)

 

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Eileen Brown, Policy and Programme Organiser from the CTU (Council of Trade Unions) spoke to the people;

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anti TPPA march_30 march 2014_wellington (15)

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“The Trans Pacific Partnership contains threats to our health system; to our public services; to public enterprises; and our ability to use government purchasing to develop our economy and to our improve environment; the working conditions of New Zealanders, and our right to make laws and regulations that are in the interests of most New Zealanders.

…This agreement could have governments preventing employers to meet conditions such as paying a living wage. It could prevent governments requiring suppliers  to meet health and safety conditions that are currently being developed to improve our apalling health and safety statistics in New Zealand workplaces.

Each of these is a major concern.

So, to, is the absence of consultation. The secrecy in which negotiations are being held, and the fact that it is being adopted by governments without full public examination and opportunity for comment.

But perhaps the greatest threat and the greatest concern in the long run is what this represents. This kind of agreement increases the power of international  corporations and it reduces the power of elected governments and it’s citizens to resist corporate demands. It fails to learn the lessons of the Global Financial Crisis which demonstrated the enormous damage that irresponsible corporations can do to the world economy.”

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This was an issue that cut across generations;

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anti TPPA march_30 march 2014_wellington (51)

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Many faces, one message;

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anti TPPA march_30 march 2014_wellington (165)

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The Nurses Organisation was represented at the protest, and was at the fore-front when the march to Parliament began;

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anti TPPA march_30 march 2014_wellington (80)

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To be concluded: They marched against the TPPA and the threat to our sovereignty (part rua)

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References

Fairfax media: Hundreds join TPPA protest in capital

It’s Our Future:  What is the TPPA

Scoop media: Gordon Campbell on the leaks about the Trans Pacific Partnership

South Centre: When Foreign Investors Sue the State

Friends of the Earth: Pay the polluter $800 million! Trade deal injustice for the children of La Oroya

Friends Committee on National Legislation: Exposing Biggest Trade Deal in U.S. History

NewstalkZB: Thousands march against TPPA

ABC News: Obama Highlights Need for US-EU Energy Cooperation

Support groups

Facebook: It’s Our Future – Kiwis concerned about the TPPA

Facebook: Aotearoa is Not for Sale

Copyright

All images stamped ‘fmacskasy.wordpress.com’ are freely available to be used, with following provisos,

» Use must be for non-commercial purposes.
» Where purpose of use is commercial, a donation to Child Poverty Action Group is requested.
» At all times, images must be used only in context, and not to denigrate individuals or groups.
» Acknowledgement of source is requested.

Acknowledgement

This blogger wishes to thank Mana Party organisor, Ariana Paretutanganui-Tamati, for kindly lending me her camera. Mine finally gave up the mechanical ghost and I would not have been able to complete this blogpost without her timely assistance. I am deeply appreciative of her kindness and trust.

– Frank Macskasy

 

 

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vote mana labnour green

Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 1 April 2014.

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Nationwide Rally Against the TPPA – Day of Action!

25 February 2014 7 comments

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TPPA

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Nationwide Rally Against the TPPA

Saturday, March 29, 2014

1:00pm

(For venues, see below)

The New Zealand government is negotiating an international agreement that could have a huge effect on the lives of ordinary kiwis. It’s called the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA), and it involves eleven Asian and Pacific-rim countries, including the United States. If it goes ahead, we risk damage to our innovative economy, our pristine environment, our health, and the ability to shape our own future.

Because the negotiations are being conducted in secret, what we know about the TPPA comes from leaked documents and detective work. We live in a democracy, which means we have the right to know what is done in our name and to have a say.

Come down, voice your concerns and together we can show the government that this is not acceptable.

Here’s a short video explaining the TPPA:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JwqMp1ykbW8

Confirmed speakers:

If there isn’t an event in your city yet and you want to help organise, please let us know

Events list around the country:

Auckland: https://www.facebook.com/events/454683364631627/

Wellington: https://www.facebook.com/events/228635500656767/

Christchurch: https://www.facebook.com/events/605044852899708/

Dunedin: https://www.facebook.com/events/221229231399538/

– Update –

“At a press conference yesterday, Malaysia’s Minister for International Trade and Industry Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed said: ‘The draft text of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) will be released to enable detailed scrutiny and public debate before any final agreement is signed.’ That would be unprecedented for Malaysia.”

Read More:  NZ should follow Malaysia lead in releasing TPPA text

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