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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…

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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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14 november 2015 - tppa march - parliament (22)

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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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14 november 2015 - tppa march - parliament (21)

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14 november 2015 - tppa march - parliament (33)

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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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14 november 2015 - tppa march - parliament (69)

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14 november 2015 - tppa march - parliament (48)

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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: , ,