The Regional Strategy and Policy Committee of Auckland Council debated the TPPA yesterday. The debate was somewhat long and fractious with a great deal of discussion about such strange things as whether or not the minor changing of the words of the resolution was appropriate. Conservative Councillors such as Denise Krum and Linda Cooper all spoke and then complained about how much time had been wasted!
The resolution proposed by Wayne Walker and seconded by John Watson essentially asked the Government to release the text of the TPPA so that Council could understand its implications, and asked the government to clarify how the recommendations in a previous Auckland Council resolution had been addressed.
But the right wing Councillors did not like it. Linda Cooper claimed that the Council spent far too much time dealing with issues that do not relate to Auckland. How TPPA cannot relate to Auckland was not explained. And if time was so scarce then she could have chosen not to speak.
Denise Krum also spoke. She said that Auckland Council needed to know what was in the TPPA but we needed to wait for the treaty to go through the parliamentary process. She also thought that Auckland needed to know the details of the TPPA to leverage benefit from the treaty. How we can do that without knowing what is actually in the treaty was not explained.
The substance of the resolution was passed by twelve votes to ten. It was another close run debate where the vote of the members of the Maori Statutory Board carried the day.
The Herald chose to add to the confusion by posting an article that repeated the right’s criticism without actually noting what had been resolved. The article included this passage:
Auckland councillors have today spent two and a half hours debating the Trans Pacific Partnership at a reported cost of $50,000 to ratepayers.
Albany councillor Wayne Walker put forward a notice of motion, including clarification from Trade Minister Tim Groser on how the recommendations from eight Local Boards were being addressed in current negotiations.
After a long discussion on the trade agreement, several councillors vented their frustration on social media.
Councillor Denise Krum said: ” A very long morning! Best use of our time? I think not.”
Councillor Linda Cooper said at a cost for council committee meetings of $20,000 an hour, the debate had cost $50,000.
The article noted that the resolution “was partially voted down”. But nowhere did it say what had actually been supported, that is the publication of the terms of the TPPA and seeking a response from Government about how previously expressed concerns had been handled by the Government.
Yes the discussion took some time, but primarily because of the actions of the right wing councillors in opposing something that was hardly contentious. In fact most of the time taken was by people talking about what a waste of time it was. Local Board member Graeme Easte who spoke in support of the resolution estimates that the debate was one hour 23 minutes long and most of the time was taken up by right wingers speaking.
And of course Auckland Council should stick to its core business but facing the prospect of being sued because it takes regulatory action which is in the interests of the public I would have thought was clearly core business.