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Posts Tagged ‘Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement’

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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Some artistry adorning poster roundels;

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A damned good question posed on this placard;

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

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

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

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

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

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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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With young citizens leading the way…

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– the grounds rapidly filled with people;

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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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The southward view;

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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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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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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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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.

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

14 March 2015 5 comments

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TPPA - No Deal

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NZ, Wellington, 7 March – It had been raining intermittently through the the morning, but as mid-day rolled into 1pm, the skies partially cleared and the sun broke through over a city glistening with rain drops. It was well-timed, as citizens began to assemble in down-town Midland Park. This was to be another expression of public anger against the so-called “Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement”.

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There were a wide variety of signs. Some professionally printed, others hand-made;

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Entertainment was provided by the “Brass Razoo” band;

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This sign was especially clever;

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A panoramic view of the growing crowd;

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The Green Party was very much in evidence;

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As were unions – for whom “free” trade agreements are never free and come at a cost of  lower wages, reduced conditions, job-insecurity, and lost jobs;

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The host and one of the organisors of the event was Dr Sandra Grey, National President of the Tertiary Education Union;

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One of the first speakers was Green Wellington city councillor, Sarah Free;

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Ms Free said she was proud that Wellington City Council had joined with Auckland, Christchurch, Dunedin, Nelson, Palmerston North, and other local bodies around the country in opposing the secrecy of the TPPA. She said,

“We want trade but not at any cost. Not at any cost. We want to keep those freedoms we have at the moment, to look after our public health, to look after our working conditions in the city, to make sure that people and the environment are looked after. We actually value those freedoms.

We are here because we are nervous. Nervous what that government’s proposing to do with our sovereign rights. Nervous about the power they’re going to give to these faceless corporations.

It’s not a trivial nervousness that we have because these corporations under these investor state dispute clauses,  have sued governments. They have sued governments for things like trying to get plain [cigarettes] packaging in Australia. They’ve sued Ecuador for just changing the size; making the size of the health warnings on the cigarette packages a little bit bigger. They’ve sued Peru for trying to shut down the smelter that was causing lead poisoning in it’s communities.

In fact they scared the Peruvian government so much that they actually backed away from shutting down the smelter!”

She said that a mining company had sued the government of Ecuador after the company had been found to be breaking the law.

Ms Free said we had good cause to be scared of the investor state dispute clauses, which the American government had been very keen to implement after it’s North American Free Trade Agreement of 1994. She said that disputes were arbitrated in secret dispute-tribunals and had risen exponentially from 69 cases in 1999, to 370 in 2012.

Ms Free told the crowd, to loud cries of “boooo!”, that law suits were being under-taken by powerful corporations with vast sums of money, against democratically elected governments.

She asked those in the crowd to put their hands up if that made people nervous. A sea of hands shot up into the air.

Ms Free pointed out,

“It’s no coincidence that the power of the corporations has also coincided with the increasing inequality of wealth worldwide. I do not think this is a coincidence.

1% of the world’s population now controls 50% of it’s wealth. 85 individuals are wealthier than 3.5 billion people at the bottom end.

We’re talking about the modern day pharoahs, and their slaves.

We want trade, but not at any cost!

Our free trade agreement with China did include some clauses, and also included protection for our environment, our public health, and our Treaty of Waitangi.”

Ms Free wanted a clear message sent to the government, saying,

“Why should we settle for any less with the TPPA?”

Some more light mockery by clever citizens;

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It seems that our Dear Leader is developing something of a reputation for amnesia? Or selective recall?

Ms Grey told the crowd that 600 lobby groups, representing corporations, had looked at the draft TPPA – but the public have not been allowed the same right.

Ms Grey then introduced the next speaker, CTU National Secretary Sam Huggard;

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Sam started by referring to the investor state dispute settlement mechanism as one of the nastiest aspects of the proposed agreement;

“It’s a provision which allows… companies and unaccountable offshore tribunals to sue our governments if they have the audacity to make changes which improve the wellbeing or the economic security or improve equality in our country. Why would our government or any government around the world want to sign up to an agreement which allows foreign companies to sue us if we have the audacity to improve our water quality or bring in other other environmental protections? Or if we wanted to improve our health policy settings to improve health and wellbeing? Or improve the economic security of people?”

Sam said that such investor mechanisms were creeping into trade agreements all around the world.

Sam told the crowd that French multi-national corporation, Veola, which managed Auckland’s rail transport network, was currently in the process of suing the Egyptian government. He said that Veola was suing the Egyptian government for increasing the minimum wage, and Veola was complaining that such a move would strip their ability to make profits.

He referred to tobacco giant, Phillip Morris, that was suing the Australian and Uruguan governments for introducing plain packaging for tobacco.

Sam said he wanted nothing to do with an agreement he considered “nasty and dodgy”,

I don’t want it signed in my name,” he told Wellingtonians, and those listening agreed noisily with his sentiments.

Young people, expressing their views;

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And other citizens, expressing their reservations, concerns, and outright opposition to an agreement which is being negotiated in secret, and which very, very few understand the consequences for our country, society, and economy;

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Sandra then welcomed Dr Gaye Keating to the microphone;

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Dr Keating announced to the crowd that she was part of a new group that had recently been created,  ‘Doctors for Healthy Trade‘. She said that the group  was a response by doctors around the world, including the President of the World Medical Association, calling for more openness in trade agreements, such as the TPPA, before they were ratified. She said that there was concern amongst the medical profession that international trade agreements were fraught with major health risks, based on past, recent examples.

Dr Keating stated that there were fears, based on leaked draft versions of the TPPA, that plans were afoot to make medicines more expensive, to increase the profits of pharmaceutical companies. She said that this would be a problem not just for wealthy countries like New Zealand, Australia, Canada, and the US, but others such as Vietnam, who could not afford medical drugs “pushed up for extra American companies profits”.

Dr Keating raised the issue of safe workplace practices and condemned the TPPA for potentially undermining health and safety laws in New Zealand;

“New Zealand knows about the problems of mines which are not managed for the safety of their workers. It kills people. We also know about things like tobacco, which also, if it’s not managed properly, kills people.

From the leaked documents, it is really clear that the TPPA freezes a country’s ability to protect people. It puts in place in place options to protect profits. It does not put in place protections for people’s health.”

Dr Keating added that climate change was also a major health threat, saying;

“We need to be able to put in place protections, for safety in terms of greenhouse gases and safety for reacting to catastrophic climate change.”

She concluded by saying,

“So both for New Zealand and for the Pacific states whose islands are going to be drowned, and for the countries in places which are being mined, we need to take a responsible stance to protect health in New Zealand but also in other countries, we should not allow other countries to be bribed or bullied into laws that are bad for their health.”

After a brief discussion on the merits of marching to Parliament with impending bad weather approaching, the decision was made by the public to proceed with the march.

Well over a thousand people marched through Wellington, toward Parliament’s grounds. I saw no hecklers or anyone on the footpaths showing any antipathy toward the protestors. I did, however, witness people nodding and clapping;

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This citizen posed a very good question to our esteemed Prime Minister;

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New Zealanders, for the most part, are not stupid. With all the secrecy surrounding the TPPA, they smell a dead rat – not unlike the stench from  old, decaying road-kill at the height of our recent hot summer.

In this shot, you can see how far back the  march filled Lambton Quay, as protesting citizens neared the Cenotaph;

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Meanwhile, Police presence during the march was minimal, except for traffic control. This lone constable appeared to be doing a good job, bringing traffic to a stop as  marchers walked safely through the intersection;

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Yet again, someone in Parliament (the Speaker’s Office? Parliamentary Services?) had decided to keep the Main Gates closed and padlocked, forcing hundreds of citizens to squeeze through an open, narrow, side gate;

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Because, judging by the crowd-barriers erected in front of Parliament’s steps, I think we can safely assume that someone was expecting the protest;

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It took a bit longer, but the marchers – which had swelled in number since departing from Midland Park –  assembled in front of Parliament;

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Though determined, it was a good-natured crowd and their was no hint of anything anti-social or potentially violent, arising. The revolution would not be held today.

This woman came forward from the crowd and volunteered to use sign-language to communicate with anyone who might be deaf, translating speakers’ speech into Sign;

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Sandra introduced the first speaker to address the crowd, Todd Rippon, vice-President of Equity New Zealand (formerly Actor’s Equity);

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Todd made an impassioned forceful statement which left listeners in no doubt where he stood on the TPPA;

“Performer’s lives are directly affected by trade agreements. In 1994, the National government signed a World Trade Organisation agreement which effectively made it illegal to have New Zealand content quota on our televisions.

So that basically meant that we gave free reign to broadcaster services internationally, to access to our televisions and screens. So the Labour government years later, led by Helen Clark, tried to support the production of film and television in New Zealand. She found she couldn’t. That government could not do a thing.

It was hamstrung by that stupid agreement. Because it was internationally illegal!”

The crowd reacted with anger, expressing their opposition to what they were hearing from Todd.

Cries of “Shame!” echoed around Parliament’s grounds.

“Now this TPPA, this agreement is like that World Trade Organisation [agreement] on steroids. Only this time it’s not going to affect performers, it’s going affect our education, it’s going to affect our healthcare, it’s going to affect agriculture… it will just go on and on and on!”

Todd was clear in what he wanted;

“I want our kids to be to able to decide their own futures. These trade agreements get locked in for decades. But our kids deserve better. I want our kids to  be able to see New Zealand content on their televisions and when they go see films. I think it’s apalling that we allow foreign corporations to decide what we see on our screens! We deserve better than that!”

Todd did not need a microphone and speakers when he forcefully thundered;

“I challenge our government to respect our culture! I challenge them to protect our culture! Signing the TPPA is nothing short of insanity! We must not sign it, Kia kaha!”

The crowd loved it and erupted with exuberant applause and cheering.

Amongst the crowd, another citizen held aloft a placard, with a very simple question  for our esteemed Prime Minister;

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Sandra next introduced Jean Kahui, from Taranaki Whanau ki Te Upoko o Te Ika, and researcher on the process of fracking;

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Jean told the crowd she has been researching the fracking of Aotearoa for the past. She said that her findings into fracking were alarming, and she could not stand by and allow government and Big Oil to pollute our children’s future. She warned that if the TPPA proceeded then so would fracking, warning that “our future will be dismal”.

“The French decided to ban fracking in 2011 and Big Oil did mount a challenge. But the highest court in France upheld the ban, cancelled the permits, and sent the frackers packing. Without a TPPA, we can do that too.”

There was enthusiastic applause when Jean said that.

Jean said that that the State of New York banned fracking on the strength of over 400 scientific studies. The over-riding concern was that the effects of fracking was not yet fully known.

Last week, she said, Tasmania renewed their ban on fracking for another five years. The Tasmanians were concerned at protecting their premium, safe, locally grown produce from potential contamination.

Jean said,

“The list of communities banning this extreme mining technique continue to grow while back here in ‘clean, green New Zealand’, our motto is clearly, “drill baby drill, and frack the hell out of every well”!”

Jean said that with the TPPA, a frack-free New Zealand is achievable.

Jean cut her speech short as  dark clouds loomed over-head, and drops of rain began to be felt.

Sandra introduced singer, Matt Pike, who belted out a stunning rendition of the ‘Twisted Sister‘ song “We’re not going to take it anymore” (with a few words altered to make it relevant to the day of protest);

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Like the 1960s song, “We shall overcome“,  it seems that “We’re not going to take it anymore” has become the protest anthem of the 21st century. The crowd joined in with gusto.

A protester taking a photo of me, photographing her. (I presented her with one of my business cards, giving her my details – some measure of reassurance that I was not SIS, GCSB, or some other National Party stooge.)

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Following Matt, Sandra introduced speakers from several political parties. She revealed that National had refused to send a representative to speak on behalf of their party. They “lacked the guts”, she said.

United Future had sent their “apologies” – to which the crowd reacted with derision.

As rain began to fall more heavily, Sandra announced that each speaker would be given a one minute maximum time limit to speak. It was now a  “race” to beat the on-coming “weather bomb” that had been predicted for the city.

First up, Ariana Paretutanganui-Tamati from the Mana Party and long-time opponant of the TPPA addressed the people;

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Ariana also spoke with deep passion, expressing her deeply-held beliefs, that we needed elected representatives who looked after our rights and looked after our  country, and our future. She said,

“We will keep fighting because we are a movement of the people, for the people. Whether we have representation in Parliament or not!”

Ariana described the TPPA;

“This is a kind of agreement that you cannot give an inch, they will take a mile! Let’s keep this pressure on!”

She encouraged people to join the TPPA Action group, referring to the group’s Facebook page as a contact point.

Ariana spoke briefly, but the crowd loved her passion.

Following Ariana, was NZ First’s Fletcher Tabutean, looking very “corporate” in his suit;

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Fletcher said the those who promoted the TPPA were compromising the sovereignty, people, and businesses of this country. He further explained;

“I have submitted on behalf of NZ First a Private Members Bill which will fight foreign corporate control.”

The crowd cheered wildly as he railed against Big Corporates, demanding that they not be permitted the right to sue the New Zealand government, nor take away our sovereignty.

“They shouldn’t even begin to think about it! They don’t belong here.”

Fletcher finished by poking fun at the government;

“John Key’s not listening to you, he’s not listening to you today. But I’ll tell you what… maybe his focus groups will hear you. Maybe his focus groups will go back to his office up there and say, ‘You might have something to worry about, John. There were a lot of people here today’.”

Many of the signs, like this one, were imaginative – very much showing the creativity of New Zealanders;

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The next speaker was James Shaw, from the Green Party. Like Ariana, he received a rapturous welcome from the crowd as well;

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James launched straight into a rousing attack on the TPPA;

“It’s because of you that we can defeat the TPPA. We can defeat the TPPA, we have done it on things like this before, and we can do it again. When we’ve got the strength of numbers, and you’re demonstrating that despite the weather. All over the country there are thousands of people marching against the TPPA today.”

“This is a Bill of Rights, not for you, not for our country, but for multi-national corporations. It goes against everything that is the sovereignty of this country. It goes against our environment, it means we can’t look after our healthcare, we can’t pass our own laws. We are ceding our sovereignty to foreign corporations.”

James stated that the Green Party would be supporting Fletcher’s bill through Parliament;

“We’re going to be doing everything we can and today we’re calling on the government to release the text. We’ve been calling on them to release the text for the last couple of years, to release the cost-benefit analysis. Because if it is so good, why is it so secret!”

He re-iterated that point,

“If it is such a good deal, why won’t they tell us what a good deal it is. The only thing that we know about this, is all of the risk.”

As the rain  began to pour more heavily, the last political party representative was Grant Robertson, from the Labour Party;

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Grant first paid tribute to the Unions who had organised the protest, giving a “big shout-out” for their efforts.

Without any further mucking around, Grant got straight into giving the Prime Minister ‘a serve’;

“I’ve got two messages, the first of those is to John Key. He’s had a lot to say in the last couple of weeks about people’s courage. Well, my message to John Key is get some guts and be upfront with New Zealand about the TPPA.

This is not a normal trade agreement. This is an agreement that goes behind the border to issues about what rights we have in that building [pointing to Parliament behind him] to make laws. John Key needs to understand that and come to New Zealand with the text and with the government’s negotiating position.

Otherwise he’s not acting in our name and he must be stopped from doing that.”

Grant continued;

“The second message I’ve got is this, if this agreement can’t guarantee our right to make laws in our interest; if this agreement can’t guarantee that PHARMAC continues to get cheap medicines for New Zealand; if this agreement can’t guarantee that people who have good ideas here can start businesses and don’t get shut down by the intellectual property law; if this agreement can’t do that, then my message to you from the Labour Party is, ‘No Deal’!”

And lastly, from Karen and her two courageous young daughters, Tracey and Katie. By now, the heavens could no longer hold back, and the weather bomb ‘exploded’ over the city, drenching people as the girls struggled to address the crowd;

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“Kia ora tatou, my name’s Tracey and I am 12 years old. Today I am here like you because I worry about what will happen to my and my friend’s future if the  TPPA is signed.”

Tracey said she understood that the trade deal was a bad idea for her and her future. She referred to the negotiations being held behind closed doors and doubted if they would be signed in our interests.

“I thought the whole idea of communities was to help one another and to work as a part of a team,”  Tracey said in her soft voice, hesitantly.

The crowd cheered and clapped.

“After all,” she continued, “isn’t this what we learn at school?”

Tracey was followed by her sister, Katie;

“Kia ora tatou, my name is Katie. I am 11 years old and like my sister I am very concerned about the TPPA. I have on many occassions handed out flyers and have chalked for people to google TPPA.”

There was loud cheering when Katie said that. She continued, hesitantly;

“Many people have seemed interested in what I have to say while handing out out leaflets. But there were also some people that had no interest or were quite appalled that I would do this. But why wouldn’t you if you knew that this was going to be signed in secrecy by our government?”

Both girls may be young in age, but they certainly knew the issues involved, and were probably more informed than the average New Zealander.

Finally…

Who is Anonymous?

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 TPPA - trans pacific partnership agreement - protest march - wellington - sovereignty - 7 march 2015

 

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None of us. All of us.

We are the people, Mr Key. Expect us.

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Contact

Facebook: TPPA Action Group

It’s our Future

Previous related blogposts

Nationwide Day of Protest Captures Public Attention on 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.

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 9 March 2015.

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= fs =

Nationwide Day of Protest Captures Public Attention on TPPA

15 November 2014 6 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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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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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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The marchers made their way through the streets of Wellington’s shopping precinct, behind this banner;

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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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… and they kept coming;

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Until most of the the Civic Square was filled;

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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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The Mana Party’s presence was still very much in evidence;

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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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This fellow’s message was blunt, short, and very much to-the-point;

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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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Former Green MP and Wellington City Councillor, Sue Kedgley, addressed the protesters;

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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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Sandra introduced Ariana, from the Wellington TPPA Action Group;

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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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The media, in evidence (though Radio NZ under-estimated numbers by a whopping 100%);

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Hannah from Oil Free Wellington had this to say on the TPPA;

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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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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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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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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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= fs =

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

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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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Eileen Brown, Policy and Programme Organiser from the CTU (Council of Trade Unions) spoke to the people;

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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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Many faces, one message;

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

6 December 2012 11 comments

… never mind.

Go back to your reality TV and talkback radio.

John Key – our beloved smiling Dear Leader – is about to sign us up to a  “free” trade agreement that will undermine Pharmac (and increase the cost of our medicines). You see, Pharmac is the envy of the world and allows us, as a country, to bulk-buy cheap medicines once their patents have expired.

Pharmaceutical companies hate it. They’ll be looking at the TPPA to stop this and make Pharmac more “transparent”. (By “transparent”, that means opening up ourselves  to lawsuits by foreign companies.)

But never mind, there’s a great cooking show on Prime TV – Masterchef  Uzbekhistan, I think.

Meanwhile, the TPPA (Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement) is being negotiated in secret, behind closed doors. We won’t know what’s in it until the final document is presented to Parliament. Whereupon National, John “Cabbage Boat” Banks, and Peter Dunne, will pass it into law.

Hey, there’s a marvelous home improvement show on TV2 (or TV3? TV5? Oh, they’re all the same) called “Garden Shed 60 Second Challenge…

Once the TPPA is enacted into law, it will open the door to corporations suing us, as a nation, if we doing anything wrong to impact on their profits. I kid you not.This is how a tobacco company sued the Australian government over the plain-packaging policy that was about to be implemented. (The tobacco company lost. But only because the case was tried on Australian soil; under Australian jurisdiction, and laws. The TPPA lawsuits will be carried out in secret, by overseas Tribunals.)

It’s part of the agreement relating to investor’s rights”, as outlined in this leaked, draft copy;

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section B - investor-state dispute settlement

Source: http://www.citizenstrade.org/ctc/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/tppinvestment.pdf

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No, no, go back to your TV… or Talkback Radio. I hear Michael Laws is having another go at dem Mow-rees, or gang patches, or whatever he happens to be wanking on about tonight. Because gang-patches, as we all know, is Really Important Stuff that we need to be Really Concerned About.

So while our country is sold out from under us; and jobs are exported to some Third World country; and our kids can’t find work so have to bugger off to Australia (which is rejecting the Investor-State lawsuit Section, I might add, because our Aussie cuzzies aren’t quite as gullible as we are) – just think about what is Really Really Important…

Home Improvement; cooking; and other Reality TV shows on nearly every free-to-air TV channel, plus SKY!! How f*****g cool is that?!

And for all you guys out there with mother-daughter fantasies, the Ridges might be back on TV3 next year!! Woohoo!!

Well, I’m glad we’ve cleared up what is important in our lives.

As John Key said to me in a hall in Lower Hutt, last year,

Don’t you worry about asset sales or anything. It’ll all be alright.”

So, what’s on TV tonight, my sleepy little Hobbits?

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Dispatches from Planet Key…

1 December 2012 5 comments

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key-loves-you

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This week has been a busy one for Dear Leader…

Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement

Perhaps the most far-ranging trade agreement that New Zealand has been involved with, since CER with Australia took effect in 1983, the TPPA (Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement) is currently under negotiation between eleven nations (including New Zealand).

Negotiations are  being held in absolute secrecy, with no Parliamentary or public oversight. Quite simply, New Zealanders have no idea what National is signing up to, until the deed is done and we are committed to god-knows-what.

There are suggestions that part of the TPPA may contain,

(1) The right of corporations to sue governments for “loss of profits”. This is no better illustrated than the recent attempt by tobacco companies to force the Australian government to back down over plans to introduce plain-packaging in that country. (See: Tobacco packaging: cigarette companies lose Australian court case)

Tobacco manufacturer, Philip Morris, moved it’s subsidiary shares from Australia to Hong Kong so as to exploit a 1993 trade agreement between the two jurisdictions and was thus able to sue the Australian government. (See:  Smoke signals: plans of Big Tobacco plain to see)

This barely-concealed attempt to exploit an obscure trade agreement should serve as a sign of things to come.

(2) Stricter intellectual property rights that may undermine Pharmac’s ability to buy cheaper, generic medicines, after patents have expired.

It is by this process that PHARMAC  can purchase cheaper drugs from overseas and pass those savings on to all New Zealanders.  The US pharmaceutical industry recognises the threat that PHARMAC poses to their profits – especially if the PHARMAC-model is adopted by other nations.

More of what pharmaceutical corporations are demanding can be found in this article, by  Keira Stephenson; TPPA could ‘gut’ Pharmac, say critics.

John Key recently stated,

We’re not prepared to see dairy excluded. And in terms of abolition, yeah, I mean that’s the aim. There might be a time frame under which clearly there’ll be a phase out. But in the end New Zealand can’t sign up to the TPP if it excludes our biggest export.”

See: Key says NZ won’t sign up to TPP unless dairy included

Key also said it would “not a good look” if  concessions undermined the status of  Pharmac.

See: Ibid

Unfortunately, we have good reason to be concerned. If past experience is anything to go by, John Key’s reassurances are mostly meaningless and more changeable than our weather.  Key has changed his position on matters such as,

If there is one thing we’ve come to expect from John Key – he can flip-flop on his promises and committments with all the ease of  a Nigerian scammer.

So when Dear Leader says he is committed to…

We’re not prepared to see dairy excluded. And in terms of abolition, yeah, I mean that’s the aim. There might be a time frame under which clearly there’ll be a phase out. But in the end New Zealand can’t sign up to the TPP if it excludes our biggest export “…

And,   it would “not a good look” if  concessions undermined the status of  Pharmac…

We should immediately be concerned.

The man is simply not to be trusted.

Corporate welfare

In October 2010,  Key categorically rejected spending taxpayers money on corporate welfare for the movie industry,

Mr Key reiterated that the Government was prepared to move at the margins when it came to money but it did not have an open chequebook.

He said Warner Bros were asking for “lots and we’re not offering lots”.

“If it’s just simply a matter of dollars and cents, I’m just not going to write out cheques that New Zealand can’t afford.”

See: PM: I’m not going to write cheques NZ can’t afford

Two years later, and our Prime Minister is dishing out taxpayers money to the movie industry like it’s growing on trees,

The Government wants to offer better incentives to get more foreign TV shows filmed in New Zealand.

Prime Minister John Key, in Matamata yesterday for the opening of the Green Dragon Pub at the Hobbiton Movie Set Tours, said attracting television series was the next step to aiding the creative industry after movie work such as Sir Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit.

“Blockbuster movies are very, very large … but they have big peaks and troughs and during the troughs that’s really difficult for people working in that field, so we can fill those gaps with television,” Mr Key said.

Under Mr Key’s lead the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, the Film Commission and the Inland Revenue Department are jointly reviewing the incentives offered to overseas producers to film TV series in New Zealand.

See: Key talks up sweeteners for TV

And yet, on 16 September this year, Key specifically rejected all suggestions of subsidies to other industries – especially exporters – to help save jobs,

But there will always be job losses, Shane. There will always be parts of the economy where, for whatever reason, there’s a change in pattern. So years ago, we all did different things from what we’re doing today. The point for New Zealand is if we’re going to sell more to the world than we buy from the world, if we’re going to earn our way in the world and not spend more than we earn, then we have to have a highly focused, competitive economy. And we need to have three things: access to capital, access to markets and access to skilled labour.

[…]

If I just take you back to your point, many of the countries you are pointing to that are paying out these levels of subsidies are backed up by governments that are hugely indebted. So the whole problem in Europe, the whole reason why you’re seeing countries like Spain, like Greece and right through Southern Europe in the sort of mess they are is they have huge levels of government debt. So the answer in New Zealand is not necessarily coming up with a make-work scheme funded off taxpayers’ taxes. It comes off New Zealand having a competitive industry, making sure that we have flexible labour markets, making sure that we are investing in things that will make the economy go faster, like science and innovation.”

See: TVNZ Q+A Interview with Prime Minister John Key

When it comes to holding two diametrically opposed beliefs, simultaneously, (aka ‘doublethink‘)  John Key excels.

I cannot recall any politician in the last forty years who can flip-flop so easily on any given issue.

Statistics & John Key

When the Household Labourforce survey was made public on 8 November, the data showed a dramatic leap in unemployment from 6.8% to 7.3%. (See: Unemployment up to 7.3pc – a 13 year high) There are now at least 175,000 people without work in this country.

Dear Leader’s response?

He rejected the figures outright, in this Fairfax story,

In the end these things bounce around quite a bit… it’s at odds with what most of the economists thought would happen. Like a lot of surveys, from time to time, it can produced usual data, let’s see what happens in the next one. But it’s not going to make the Government change tack.  These are challenging international conditions … but I don’t think we should change course I think we’re on the right track. “

See: Shock rise in unemployment to 7.3pc

On TVNZ’s Q+A, on 25 November, Key was just as  reluctant to accept the HLFS results,

The Household Labour Force Survey is a survey. It’s a survey of 15,000 people. It has a quite significant margin of error and it bounces around a lot. Quite a number of the bank economists, in their review of the last number, said it’s notoriously volatile. So I can’t tell you whether it might go up a little bit or go down a little bit. What I can tell you is that’s not the relevant point. The relevant point is is the government doing everything it can to create an environment to allow businesses to create jobs?

See:  TVNZ Q+A Interview with Prime Minister John Key

Which makes it even stranger and more comical when – having trashed the reliability of the Household Labour Force Survey over the last month – he suddenly invokes the very same Household Labour Force Survey to back up his position (which depends on what day it is),

There’s always a range of different data series. QS [Quarterly Survey?] is one. That’s obviously another. Household Labour Force is another. All I can tell you is we’ve looked at [garbled gibberish] … The concensus view and that was the previous government’s view as well, is that HLFS was the best measure of the economy. Sometimes it produces numbers I don’t like. But if you look at their data series what they are saying is, in broad terms, over the last four years, the number of jobs in manufacturing is roughly about the same.” – John Key, 27 November 2012

Source: Radio NZ – PM rejects jobs statistics

It is fairly obvious to the ordinary bloke and blokette in the street that relying on John Key’s word will generally result in disappointment.

Back to Pharmac, the TPPA, and John Key’s “reassurances”

Last year, on 13 June, Fairfax reporter Nikki MacDonald wrote an excellent piece on how TPPA negotiations may impact on Pharmac’s drug-buying policies,

 Pharmac was established in 1993, to rein in rocketing drug costs and distance the government from drug-buying decisions. Its task is to spend its $710 million annual budget to achieve the best health gains for Kiwis.

Broadly, Pharmac works by referring drug-company funding applications to the Pharmacology and Therapeutics Advisory Committee, made up of senior doctors and pharmacists, to examine whether or not the drug is effective, and whether it is significantly better than anything else already on offer.

The committee then gives the drug a low, medium or high funding priority and Pharmac’s board decides whether or not its benefits justify the price tag.

Pharmac’s cost-benefit analysis, which takes into account average patient age and the number of good-quality years gained by the treatment (called quality adjusted life years, or QALYs), is similar to that in Australia’s scheme.

The major difference is that Australia funds everything meeting a given cost-effectiveness threshold.

New Zealand, on the other hand, has a fixed budget, so has to decide whether it can afford to fund a drug in any given year. Pharmac must also consider the opportunity cost of a funding decision – what do you sacrifice to spend $20 million on the latest cancer drug?

Pharmac uses various bargaining strategies so it can buy more for its drug dollar. These include:

Reference pricing: Where a newer, patented drug has similar benefits to a cheaper generic drug, Pharmac might subsidise the newer drug only to the same level as the lower-cost alternative. The drug company then either drops its drug price to the subsidy level, or the consumer pays the difference.

Sole-supply tenders: When a drug patent expires, Pharmac tenders to get the best price for a generic replacement. Drug companies can offer much cheaper deals because they’re assured of a large market share.

A 2004 price comparison found Australia paid up to 20 times more than New Zealand for some generic drugs, because it did not use tenders. (Legislation has now bridged some of that difference, by enforcing staged price drops for generic drugs.) A Canadian study found generic drugs were up to 93 per cent, and on average 58 per cent, cheaper in New Zealand.

Package deals: A costly new drug that works well but is not cost-effective can be funded by negotiating cheaper prices for other drugs made by the same pharmaceutical company. Glivec was funded using this method.

Negotiated contracts. On the numbers Pharmac has been spectacularly successful. In 1985, a basket of commonly prescribed drugs cost 37 per cent more in New Zealand than in Australia. Between 1993 and 2006 New Zealand’s drug spending grew by 11 per cent, while Australia’s soared by 212 per cent. Pharmac estimates its aggressive pricing policies save almost $1 billion a year.

See: Pharmac: The politics of playing god

Most New Zealands either have no idea what the potential impact on Pharmac may be, if US pharmaceutical companies get their way through TPPA negotiations – or are too busy watching the latest “Masterchef Botswana”, “X Factor Bolivia”, or gawking at a celebrity’s tits on some vacuous “reality” show.

It is only when Pharmac’s ability to buy cheap drugs is undermined by the full power of pharmaceutical companies, levied through the TPPA, and the costs for medicines suddenly doubles, trebles, quadruples, will New Zealanders wake up to the fact that we’ve been rorted.

And it all happened on the watch of  our  smiling, waving, Prime Minister – that ever so-nice Mr Key.

By then it will be too late.

So when Key  reassures New Zealanders that,

“…it would “not a good look” if New Zealand made concessions that undermined the status of its drug-buying agency, Pharmac.”

See: Mr Key, reiterated today NZ will not sign the Trans Pacific Partnership unless it provides for the abolition of tariffs on agriculture

See: No TPP deal unless dairy and Pharmac are in, says Key

See: TPPA could ‘gut’ Pharmac, say critics

… it is time to be worried.

Like all his other assurances, pledges, promises, and committments that have been broken or backtracked, our Prime Minister is not a man who stands by his word.

When it comes to the health of our economy, he has failed.

Let’s not allow him to do the same to our own health.

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Sources

US free-trade deal suspect (19 Dec 2010)

Pharmac: The politics of playing god (13 June 2011)

Pharmac faces trade ‘threat’ (26 Oct 2011)

Leaked TPPA document leaves NZ position on software patents unclear (22 June 2012)

Leaked document on Investor Rights to sue sovereign governments

No TPP deal unless dairy and Pharmac are in – Key (26 Nov 2012)

TPPA could ‘gut’ Pharmac, say critics (29 Nov 2012)

Navigating the choppy waters of the TPP (1 Dec 2012)

Right Wing Reaction

Anti-trade camp running debate (28 Nov 2012)

Other blogs

The Standard: TPP Negotiations Auckland next week

Tumeke: Citizen A TPP special with Professor Jane Kelsey & Lori Wallach

Gordon Campbell: Gordon Campbell on the NZ Herald’s attack on Jane Kelsey

Idle Thoughts of an Idle Fellow: TPP in crisis?

Werewolf: Into The Cave of Dreams – Trans Pacific Partnership

Werewolf: Selling the Farm – Trans Pacific Partnership

Werewolf: The Neutering Of Pharmac – Trans Pacific Partnership

Werewolf: Head First Into The Spaghetti Bowl – Trans Pacific Partnership

Public Citizen: Controversial Trade Pact Text Leaked, Shows U.S. Trade Officials Have Agreed to Terms That Undermine Obama Domestic Agenda

It’s Our Future

Groups

TPPA Action Group

Additional

NBR:  OPINION: TPP – Groser trades away tech to save agriculture

Fairfax:  CTU seeks answers over trade agreement

NBR:  Govt accused of ‘sellout’ on trade pact negotiations

NBR:  NZ must stay staunch on TPP

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John Armstrong, bloggers, and the free market

19 September 2012 2 comments

NZ  Herald  “chief political commentator” seems to have taken issue with bloggers. Well, two bloggers, mostly,

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John Armstrong NZ herald bloggers

Full bizarre story

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Armstrong’s bizarre comments were… well, bizarre.

Personally, I put it down to an unholy mixture of jet-lag*; long nights; too much/too little caffeine;  mid-life crisis; with a fair whack of frustration. Something has obviously crawled up his bits.

In fact, his comments in his column (above) were not just downright unprofessional, but  suggestive of  poor health. Comments like,

Here is a blunt message for a couple of old-school Aro Valley-style socialists…”

Get off our backs.’

Stop behaving like a pair of tut-tutting old dowagers gossiping in the salons.’

In short, stop making blinkered, cheap-shot accusations of the kind you made this week…”

And those were in just the first paragraph. After that, it was all downhill.

The tirade was directed at two gentlemen, Gordon Campbell and Bryce Edwards. Both responded in their own ways, and style,

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Full story

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Full story

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All three are worth reading.

All  three  speak volumes about the state of journalism in this country.

Firstly; John Armstrong represents the Old Guard of the Fourth Estate; conservative; part of The Establishment; close to government. In fact, how close to government was exemplified by this extraordinary statement from opinion piece above,

“The rapidly growing influence of Edwards’ blog was initially down to its being an exhaustive wrap-up of all of the day’s political news. It is now starting to develop a much more political dynamic that is unlikely to please National.”

With an admission like that, you begin to realise why someone like Armstrong would be so belligerent to the likes of Campbell and Bryce, who are hardly Establishment-types.

Since when was it ever the concern of a journalist whether what s/he  wrote was ” unlikely to please National “?!

A journalist is not put on this Earth to “please National” (or Labour). They are here to tell us what’s going on – regardless of whether or not National (or Labour)  are  “displeased”.

That one remark validates every criticism every made of the NZ Herald that it is a clandestine mouthpiece for the National Party. There is no other way it can be interpreted.

Secondly; whilst Armstrong represents the Old Guard of journalism, Campbell and Bryce are part of the  New Wave of Media. In large part, this involves the latest advent of mass-media, the internet. But the internet is simply the tool – it is an attitudinal sea-change  that best encapsulates what Bryce and Campbell represent.

When Rogernomics engulfed this country, it introduced the concept of the “free market” and “choice” to our economy. Some of it benefitted our nation – much of it did not. Thousands who lost their jobs will attest to that.

But the liberalisation and de-regulation of New Zealand was not simply something applied to our economy. It reached into, and affected every part, of our society.

MMP, for example, did to the electoral/political system was the removal of tariffs did to the  importation of consumer products; it gave the Voter/consumer a greater choice in who to vote for.

That same liberalisation encouraged the de-regulation of the Media. It was no longer the province of  card-carrying journos, feature writers, and freelancers. Suddenly, anyone could get “in on the game”. The internet did for citizen journalists, bloggers, and non-establishment commentators  what the typewriter and paid salaries did for mainstream journos.

The richest irony here is that John Armstrong is a cheerleader for the de-regulated free market – the same de-regulated free market that has pissed him off by letting everyone in on his turf.

Right about now, Armstrong should understand what it felt like when our shops were flooded with cheap clothing and shoes from Fiji, China, and India – whilst New Zealand seamstresses and shoemakers were forced out of business.

Or how Labour and National politicans felt when MMP changed our political landscape and Parliament was flooded with Greens, NZ Firsters, Alliance, ACT, etc.

The de-regulated free market is such a wonderful thing – until it’s your arse that is bitten.

Painful eh, John?

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Addendum

Armstrong complains about the tough nature of his job – especially accompanying John Key and his entourage to the APEC conconference in *Vladivostok last week.

Perhaps instead of writing travelogue pieces (see: Curse of Russky Island strikes ) he might have considered writing about Key’s pursuit of a Free Trade Agreement with Russia. This might have been a worthy topic, considering that Russia appears to have an unhealthy, close relationship with the Russian Mafia. (See related blogpost: A FTA deal with Russia?! That’s a big “NYET” Comrade Key! )

Even the Guardian and Washington Post felt the situation warranted some decent investigative journalism. (See: The farce of Russian elections , Russia’s presidential election: rigging is a delicate art, Putin’s government moves to quash public dissent )

But we got none of that (unless I’ve missed it).

A story of a sovereign state that appears to have  close connections to gangsters would seem to be much more of a story than interesting scenery in Vladivostok.  That might’ve made an interesting story for Armstrong to pursue – especially if we’re going to be cosying up to our Russian cuzzies with a FTA.

Newsworthy, I would have thought.

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Sources

Bloggers don’t let the facts get in the way

Gordon Campbell on journalism, and John Armstrong

Political round-up: Blogging backlash

Curse of Russky Island strikes

Who owns what: for an answer, start here

Previous related blogpost

A FTA deal with Russia?! That’s a big “NYET” Comrade Key!

Tracey Watkins on John Key – Surprised?!

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