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NRT: National hates transparency

Written By: - Date published: 7:54 am, February 12th, 2014 - 56 comments
Categories: accountability, International, labour, national, Parliament, Politics, you couldn't make this shit up - Tags: , , ,

no-right-turn-256Yesterday No Right Turn put up this observation.

Today Labour tried to put forward a Parliamentary motion calling on the government to release the draft text of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement before signing it, on the simple democratic grounds that the public deserved to know what agreements were being made in our name.

National refused to.

The upshot: National hates transparency. It also hates democracy. Rather than negotiating openly and transparently with a clear and ongoing mandate from the public about what it is allowed to give away, it wants to do so in secret, so as to present us with a fait accompli, in the manner of a king.

Fuck that. A deal made in secret, on which we have no input, let alone opportunity to consent, is simply not legitimate. Its time we tore down this entire rotten way of doing foreign policy, and replaced it with a democratic one: open, transparent, and with ratification by the people, not Parliament. If the government can’t convince us to endorse the deals its been making, then it has no business making them. It’s that simple.

lprent: Contrary to myth, the current treaty system has the cabinet being the only political body that may make any effective decision on treaties.

Parliament gets 15 sitting days to *look* at the public parts of a treaty and the analysis in select committee. They make *recommendations* that cabinet may ignore and usually does. Cabinet may then start presenting whatever legislative changes are required to parliament.

Frequently no substantive legislative changes are required as much of the business of government may be done by regulation by the executive council or ministers. Or any changes required are so minor that their passage does not substantially affect the treaty implementation. Often some of those legislative changes will only need to be done when specific parts of a treaty have to take effect years later. In particular many trade treaties are staged over years.

In other words, there is usually no effective public input on any treaty regardless how abhorrent it is. Currently cabinet and only cabinet makes the decision often binding subsequent cabinets especially where international legal procedures are involved. This is what Idiot Savant is referring to.

56 comments on “NRT: National hates transparency”

  1. Max and Stacy and their interview of Linda Kaucher from Stop TTIP about the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP)

    The TTIP is the European variant of the TTP and if you think that National as a party has anything to say about this Global corporate banker takeover you have not grasped the seriousness of our situation.

    But hey nobody conspires here. No Sir our governments would never do that!

  2. ianmac 2

    I have watched some of the Paul Henry show to see if it was worth the bother. Last night he had a curious interview with Dean Barker over the failure of the NZ challenge in the Americas Cup. Dean was amazingly cautious and circumspect but it seems that Grant Dalton may have been a problem especially on the agreement for the lay day. This has relevance considering the question of future taxpayers money being involved in future challenges. There is to be more on this tonight. ( Otherwise I had decided to flag the program.)

  3. Wayne 3

    Clearly the public does not get a say, in the sense indicated here, to participate in the outcome of the negotiation or to change the agreed text. It will have been negotiated by ten countries, and they have agreed on the process of disclosure. New Zealand will not break that deal. And once the text is finalised, there will be no changes. No one country will be allowed by the others to unravel it.

    I suppose one can argue that with the text released before signing, the public could say “no” to New Zealand signing it, but how would this be done. The usual people opposed will be against no matter what. There won’t be a referendum on it. And clearly a National govt is not going to listen to a campaign organised by Jane Kelsey, Simon Terry, Helen Kelly et al..

    So the reality is that if the TPP is negotiated before the election, the govt will sign it. And I am sure everyone who follows this issue actually knows that already.

    The Left, especially the Greens and Mana, though perhaps not Labour, will oppose TPP and use the issue in the election campaign. The Nats will presumably stress the opportunity for New Zealand.

    Nothing new in any of that. The parameters of that political/economic debate are well known, and cross just about every debate about the future direction of New Zealand.

    • Tracey 3.1

      Hand on heart Wayne, do you really think with all the NSA and other stuff each government’s position is still a secret that needs protecting by confidentiality? If confidentiality was so crucial why open up the process to the nearly 400 corporate advisors int eh US, who then have boards they report to, confidentially?

      When Mr Key campaigned on transparency back in 2008 Wayne, what did you think he meant by that? I point to the Govt record on OIAs as one example of where transparency desires could be measured.

      You speak of the opportunity? Imagine the TPP is signed next month. How many years until you expect to see the minimum wage rise significantly as a result? For the median income to rise and the gap between the rich and poor to shorten? Cos that’s what an “opportunity” would look like to me.

      There are five or six questions in all. I await your reply.

      The usual people will support it no matter what. There won’t be a referendum on it. And clearly a National govt is going to listen to private lobbying by J P Morgan, Oil interest et al..

      I know of at least one lawyer who thinks it’s a great idea and recommends it despite never having read it and never having seen anything other than leaks which arent the final agreement.

      • Wayne 3.1.1

        Tim Groser has just released an important speech on TPP, which I guess soon will be on Scoop. Anyway he spends a lot of the speech on the econometrics of free trade. He has specific reference to China. I recall when the Select Committee got the briefing from MFAT in 2008, that their numbers would prove to be a huge underestimate.

        Tracey I know you have all sorts of specific questions. In dealing with I refer to the China FTA. The NZ economic recovery has been substantially dependent on the FTA. Median incomes have risen, the minimum wage goes up, unemployment is reducing. All this is all a direct result of growth, much of which is connected to the China FTA. I expect that TPP will have similar effects, because both the US and Japanese markets will open up. In aggregate these two economies are twice as large as China. Also NZ will make big inroads into the Canadian market.

        But I guess you won’t change your mind on TPP, just as Jane never changed her mind on China. Well, perhaps she has, but has not said so publicly.

        By the way that is what I mean by Jane being more flexible. If she was able to say, “Well I understand why you might want TPP, but you need to look at this issue, and deal with it like this.” It is not the same as endorsing TPP, but it enables participation with officials in dealing with thorny problems. Or maybe she already does this quietly.

        • framu

          or maybe your lot are to busy trying to discredit her to notice?

          Shes not making some sort of “to the barricades” noise is she – just like the asset sales issue, any kind of argument against, no matter how reasoned or researched, is dismissed, mocked and vilified by people like you and john key. Then once youve done that you start in on their character. (you do it yourself on this thread in that lurvly subtle, “im being quite nasty, but using polite language” so fond of many RWngers who comment here)

          It must be easy to then go, when “shes anti free trade” when you cant even be assed admitting theres a point to discuss

          why the hell should jane kelsey be more flexible when people like you are rigid as a frozen power pole?

          • Wayne

            Being ‘rigid as a frozen power pole’ does mean I support TPP. And I am hardly likely to flip on that.

            But obviously there are difficult negotiating issues, which Jane has got a lot of expertise on. But if the role is from the “barricades”, it is hard to get listened to, or perhaps more accurately, advise the MFAT team.

            I think Jane is seen as being “on the barricades”. She is a key contributor to the key website opposing TPP.

            In any event read Tim Groser’s speech on participating. For an alternative approach look at Phil Goff. He has hard questions on TPP, but he also acts in manner that he ensures that he gets briefings from the MFAT officials on progress. Mind you he was the Minister for the China FTA so he is really an insider on all of this.

            • framu

              “I think Jane is seen as being “on the barricades””

              no – your lot go out of your way to paint her that way – thatws my point. It doesnt matter hoe moderate someone is – if it goes against the nat agenda – they are a loony

          • Tracey

            Anyone who disagrees with nact, to them, is by definition an activist or a loon. How else could they justify much of their actions.

        • Tracey

          You get that an fta is not what tpp is?

          I can understand you not answering because the answer is that you have no idea. I woudnt expect groser to paint anything but a rosie picture.

          I can’t change my mind because no one will provide evidence, including you. Just ideological hopes and dreams dressed up…. like a pig with lipstick.

          • Wayne

            The China FTA is also more than an agreement on trade in goods. And I reckon it is good evidence of the value of such deals. But if you don’t see that…

            • tracey

              could you point to how it has increased the minimum wage and closed the income gap between rich and poor in NZ? But if you don’t see the importance of that…

        • hoom

          ” If she was able to say, “Well I understand why you might want TPP, but you need to look at this issue, and deal with it like this.””

          People **CAN’T** say ‘we understand why you might want TPP’ because we don’t know what it is!!!
          That is the whole point.

    • bad12 3.2

      Wayne, i hate to nit-pick, but, didn’t you ‘toss the toys’ the other day stating you are not going to be commenting here again, specially in an election year???,

      Having made the comment i mention do you not see that prior comment as some sort of ‘drama queen’ hissy fit, in effect a demand from you that the debate should be conducted in terms and language that you decide is appropriate…

      Ps, this is not an attempt to derail this Post, and if the Doktor deigns to answer my query perhaps Mods can move this to “Open Mike’…

      • Tracey 3.2.1

        In fairness to Wayne, it isn’t really anew comment, more a copy and paste of what he has said on TPP as his mantra. I suspect he meant not answering anyone else. He certainly stopped answering any of my questions some weeks ago.

      • veutoviper 3.2.2

        In the intersts of fairness and transparency, bad12, Dr Mapp did include a possible exception in respect of the TPP in his last comment about not commenting here in an election year.


        • bad12

          vv, Good point and i stand corrected, my apologies to the Doktor for what has turned out to be a somewhat unwarranted criticism with my comment at (3.2),

          Having said that tho i did find Wayne’s comment you kindly provided a link to, to be somewhat in the vein of ”i am not debating the issues with you unless the debate is in words and of a form that i agree with”,

          However, the apology is still warranted…

        • Tracey

          He’s been flipping past my questions to answer others around them for weeks. I don’t mind repeating them each time he makes one of his posts.

          • veutoviper

            I’ve noticed that Dr Mapp doesn’t really answer anyone’s questions or respond to comments per se. Just tends to come back on lesser issues such as his response at 3.2.4 below. Note the word ‘contribute’ – not ‘respond’.

            I have no expectations that he will ‘respond’ to my comment at 3.4 re politicians from 7 of the 12 TPPA countries calling for transparency; or my comment at 3.4.2 re the transparency and input sought by the US Congress in the US Senate Committee on Finance fast track bipartisan Bill introduced on TPP.

            However, I am with fender at 3.2.3 as Dr Mapp’s ‘contributions’ give an insight into National’s thinking.

            • Tracey

              Hes very selective indeed. Fair to assume the questions he breezes past he has no answer to.

              Basically, tim groser says and jane is fringe sums up his answers to date.

      • fender 3.2.3

        I for one would like to see Wayne continue his propaganda on behalf of National. He has more to offer than the BM’s of this world, if only to indicate how the right-wing intend to water-down the appearance of their far-right shenanigans.

      • Wayne 3.2.4

        I said that I would contribute on TPP, but I have concluded that on broader electoral issues I would not. For me the tone of the debate does matter.

        On TPP, perhaps because it is not a central electoral issue, the debate is generally civil, even if strongly expressed. International trade policy and law is a specific area of interest to me, having taught the subject at university and actively participated in trade issues in Parliament.

        • bad12

          Wayne, i won’t drag the Post any further off topic with a discussion about your overly prissy sensitivities,(unless you care to discuss the issue in ‘Open Mike’),

          You have an apology for my first comment to you at (, other than that you should have read the ‘about’ link at the top of the page where it is obvious that discussion here is of a robust no holds barred nature only tempered by the intrusion of the moderator(s)…

        • Tracey

          On that basis you would have been mute in parliament.

    • veutoviper 3.4

      Well Dr Mapp, it seems that it is not only the NZ opposition parties and a lot of the NZ general public that wants to know what is being negotiated in the TPP.

      Apparently politicians from 7 of the 12 countries negotiating the TPP also want to see the text.


      As the RNZ report is short, here is the full text – in the interests of transparency of course.

      Pressure is mounting on the Government to disclose the details of talks for a Pacific-wide trade deal.

      Politicians from seven of the 12 countries involved in the Trans Pacific Partnership have signed an open letter demanding that the text of the proposed agreement be released, before it’s signed.

      MPs from New Zealand, Australia, Canada, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico and Peru argue the talks need detailed scrutiny and public debate.

      More than 150 other politicians in Chile and the United States have already called for greater transparency.

      In New Zealand, the Greens, New Zealand First, and the Maori and Mana parties have all endorsed the statement.

      The Government says the public will get a chance to have its say once a deal is concluded.

      • Tracey 3.4.1

        It’s easier to glibly label jane kelsey and others as some kind of fringe dwellers. Wearing a suit and tie seems to make Mr Mapp think that a gaggle of such people can’t be fringe dwellers.

        From what I have seen and read Ms Kelsey has at least poured over everything she can about TPP. I would be surprised if, say, Mr Key could say the same. He probably just gets summaries of someone’s views on it.

        • Wayne


          I agree that Jane is deeply researched on TPP and other trade issues. It is really her prime area of research. Its just that since she has opposed every FTA (and in dogmatic terms), the Govt has decided they cannot constructively interact with her.

          In my view she would make more of a difference if she moderated her views somewhat. And Jane knows my views on that.

          Well I guess we all make the choices we make.

          • bad12

            ”Moderated Her views somewhat”, that is an amusing comment Wayne, free trade agreements have seen this country move from a position of near full employment to one of massive unemployment,

            i am sure that the $ value of this free trade is of more value to those with the ability to trade in such markets than that of the individual benefits paid to those who have no work in a shrinking demand side employment situation brought about by such free trade agreements,

            i doubt tho that the taxation paid to the Government by those able to take advantage of those free trade agreements goes anywhere near matching the cost of benefits to those in essence disenfranchised from employment as a result of such agreements,

            Thus for some sectors of the economy free trade agreements are a ‘subsidy’ by way of creating unemployment which those sectors benefitting from these agreements do not meet the full cost of via taxation paid,

            It then remains a cost to those working/trading in the economy in a non export business who pay for the unemployment directly caused by free trade agreements thus creating another subsidy for those engaged in business which can take advantage of those free trade agreements…

          • framu

            “In my view she would make more of a difference if she moderated her views somewhat”

            stop rocking the boat in other words – real nice attitude there wayne

          • lprent

            For a change I agree with her on the TPP. I like FTAs. Problem is that TPP isn’t one.

            Despite a few nominal bits of trade stuff for NZ, It looks to me more like RTA (Restraint of Trade Agreement) for most of the NZ economy that isn’t agricultural.

            We wind up with a pile of extended restraints that we don’t currently have from ridiculous times for copyright (how many decades after and authors death?), patents (how to massively increase R&D times for NZ companies), restrictions of distribution that we got rid off a decade ago,

            What do we get from it? Well supposedly some extra commodity level agricultural access to the US and Japan. Anyone notice that the fastest growth in milk exports to the rest of the world is from the US? And in a number of agricultural products at present. Or that these barriers to agriculture in Japan and the US are procedural and are unlikely to get affected much for the agricultural goods we export to them. That is why the aussie agreement with the US hasn’t reaped very many benefits.

            Plus the US congress are a tough to get any substantive trade agreements through – like heading cats. I think we should make all trade legislation and regulation conditional on the US passing their legislation EXACTLY as required by the treaty before our legislation becomes effective.

            FFS the fanciful East-West study numbers showed an extra 6% odd growth in our exports at the end of a few decades – on top of a growth that was something like 10x that. Our agriculture is selling food in world market that has a rising affluent population. The biggest hassle for us is that we’re selling most of it with minimal processing as low-value commodities, something that the TPP is likely to increase.

            For that minimal concession, we’re sacrificing the high value export parts of our economy to a higher cost structure from the TPP, because those areas already have free trade access to all potential members of the TPP.

            Who was the moron who thought this was a Free Trade Agreement ?

            • Tracey

              Wayne keeps pointing to fta to boost his support of tpp but I wouldnt call him a moron.

              In the last 30 years the gap between rich and poor has widened. Fta hasnt helped that at all. Why would tpp.

              Wayne cant answer that. So he ignores it and accuses kelsey as being fro. The barricades.

              Note how anyone who disagrees with nats is either described in kind of war like terms or by reference to poor mental health.

              • Wayne


                “From the barricades” was a quote from Framu. And where on earth have I ever made reference to “poor mental health” of someone. Though I note you did not accuse me of that as such, it was included it in the same sentence.

                • One Anonymous Bloke

                  …she has opposed every FTA (and in dogmatic terms)…

                  Ah, but so many of the arguments in favour are themselves dogmatic. The argument against punitive measures to combat human rights abuses is that such matters are for sovereign nations to sort out themselves, but trade tariffs or business subsidies are not.

                  It’s easy to see why the distinction is made. If you tell your clients to stop torturing people they might not do business with you any more. You could drop the pretence that it’s based on any kind of dogma-free principle though.

                • tracey

                  it was meant as a way to generalise the national mp’s name calling… crazies, idiots, loonies…

                  “But if the role is from the “barricades”, it is hard to get listened to, or perhaps more accurately, advise the MFAT team. “

                • framu

                  wayne – stop turning comments that refer to a generalised group into being solely about you. Your old enough to damn well know that many people here are talking about national in general, not you sepcifically

              • lprent

                The problem with your analysis as far as NZ goes is that you’re ignoring the incredible shift that had to be made in NZ after Britian joined the EU 40 years ago. Basically you’re looking at a complete shift in the basis of the NZ economy during my working life.

                The easiest way to see just how big a shift it was is to hunt down the country of export and type of export figures between somewhere in the 1960s and now.

                If you look at some other countries who were developed in the OECD as a comparison, I suspect you’ll only find Norway as having anything like a similar shift, and theirs was due to oil extraction.

                The key to doing that kind of shift in exports has been the free trade agreements. Starting with CER back in the early 80’s and all the way through to the whale of the Chinese FTA. I have certainly noticed the change in the business environment for exports. Been working in exports for most of my working life. Was a complete pain back in the 80’s. Now it is simple and outright easy.

                Basically the variance in income levels is important. But if we hadn’t managed to get free trade agreements then we’d be far more concerned with having income at all and lost in the wake of people who’d already left (including me BTW)

          • Tracey

            Which fta have you opposed. I recall you wrote none. So you speak from the barricades as do groser and key.

      • veutoviper 3.4.2

        And further to the above (repeated/updated on RNZ National’s 10am News), back in January there was considerable discussion on the “How big were the TPPA gimmes, John” post on secrecy on the TPPA negotiations.

        I contributed a very long, complicated (and badly written) comment on the US Senate Committee on Finance fast track bipartisan Bill introduced on TPP.


        What struck me about this Bill was the completely different stance that Congress is taking on transparency and the involvement of Congress at all stages of the negotiation by the US adminstration of trade agreements – compared to the lack of similar processes here in NZ (including the BS we are being fed by Groser and other Ministers on the need for secrecy on the TPPA.)

        According to the press release and one pager, the US Bill also:

        “Establishes robust consultation and access to information requirements before, during, and after negotiations that ensure an open and transparent process for Members and the public

        “Requires transparency, as well as processes for public participation and collaboration through written guidelines on public engagement and on information-sharing with advisory committees.

        “Provides Robust Reporting Requirements: Expands reporting requirements on the effects of trade agreements. Requires that all reports be made public.”

        SO, so different to the BS we are being fed.

        I am not up to date as to what is going on with the US Bill, but IMO it could well be that even if the TPPA is agreed and signed, it will not have a smooth and fast passage through the US Congress. And may well fall down for this reason (albeit for very different reasons for opposition, eg US Congress wanting even stronger protections etc for US businesses).

        Huggin also had a very good comment @15 on the January post on the US non-government corporate interests involved in the TPPA negotiations which is worth reading. (Just down from my long comment).

    • framu 3.5

      “Clearly the public does not get a say, in the sense indicated here, to participate in the outcome of the negotiation or to change the agreed text. It will have been negotiated by ten countries, and they have agreed on the process of disclosure. New Zealand will not break that deal. And once the text is finalised, there will be no changes. No one country will be allowed by the others to unravel it. ”

      Thats what weve been saying for months, and constantly get told “no, no your wrong – everything will be ok. It doesnt work like that”

      serious question wayne – it seems pro TPP people have been thoroughly bullshitting everyone – (surprise surprise) – is that the case?

      • Wayne 3.5.1

        I thought I had always been consistent on this point.

        The negotiation, signing and ratification of treaties is essentially an executive process in New Zealand.

        Sure, there is a Select Committee consideration of treaties, but that can not change the text of the treaty. I guess the SC could say the Govt should not ratify, but I have not seen that happen.

        Of course some treaties require legislation to be implemented in New Zealand law. That will certainly be the case for some parts of TPP, given what is understood to be the content of some of the chapters. It would be a problem for a govt if the Treaty was signed, but Parliament did not pass the relevant enabling legislation. Realistically it might be some specific clauses in legislation that the fight is over.

        As previously noted Labour and the Nats have done these things together. This was the case with the China FTA, with the Greens, NZF, and the MP voting against. It seems to me to be shaping up that way again on TPP.

        • Crashcart

          Perhaps if the details of the negotiations were released then all parties could give a well based opinion on what their position would be as to its progress and what their sticking points would be. Then in an election year the NZ public could give their feed back as to what they want on election day.

          It seems to me that if National were really confident that the TPP was in the best interests of Kiwi’s then they would be lording what they are achieving as opposed to hiding it and trying to rush it through secretly before an election.

        • framu

          you need to learn to read – ffs, i didnt single you out – im talking about the general discourse

          ” it seems pro TPP people have been thoroughly bullshitting everyone”

          so – “pro TPP people have repeatedly claimed that nzers would have the chance for input once the deal has been signed” – yes or no

  4. Clemgeopin 4

    TPP Caution:

    Here is an interesting news item that drew my attention about the draw backs of trade related agreements such as the TPP. Take a look: INDIA, USA trade dispute.


    • Jim in Tokyo 4.1

      Well spotted!

      Really brings home the point that the TPP might make future Labour or Green policy moves on sustainable government sourcing impossible.

      Just another case that demonstrates that the US is a classic repeat offender when it comes to maintaining protectionist double standards at home while pushing an aggressive trade liberalisation agenda abroad.

  5. Mary 5

    National hates transparency and democracy, as well as a lot of other things, like children and women. It also likes a lot of things, too, like poverty, injustice and inequality. But why is it that only bloggers like Idiot/Savant tell it like it is? Why doesn’t Labour and the rest of the opposition do the same instead of mincing their words which only gives Key a free run? Until the Left properly wakes up and starts telling the truth Key and his mates will keep all the pseudo-support it currently has and probably pick up a bit more and waltz off yet again with the next election. Our opposition is totally stuffed. We deserve another three years of misery.

    • Tracey 5.1

      “But why is it that only bloggers like Idiot/Savant tell it like it is? ”

      He’s a blogger not a party running for election to Government.”tell us like it is” is a euphemism for “I agree with what he writes” which is not really a good yardstick unless you can say with your hand on your heart that you are representative of my thinking or anyone else’s?

      • adam 5.1.1

        Politicians do speak in half truths and waffle Tracy, they do. The old joke – how can you tell a politician is lying…there lips are moving – is a bad joke because it has a ring of truth to it.

        And I agree with Mary, the left and labour in-particular, are shallow dilly dallies in many instances – when straight speaking would win them respect.

        Slightly off topic, but it’s the TTPA —– so it might not be…

        Talking of this government and there attitude towards women. Be warned this clip is not-for-the-pc inclined.


      • Mary 5.1.2

        “He’s a blogger not a party running for election to Government.”

        Herein lies the problem.

  6. Ian 6

    ALL governments hate transparency – not just the Nats. Do you really think Labour or the Greens would be conducting a transparent process under similar circumstances?

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