Aussies & US mount opposition to TPPA – but in NZ we just keep nodding

Written By: - Date published: 2:56 pm, February 14th, 2015 - 47 comments
Categories: Abuse of power, activism, australian politics, community democracy, democracy under attack, democratic participation, Europe, International, law, national/act government, Politics, us politics - Tags:

So much to sell, so little time… When this Government is finished selling, we will have sold our right to make laws for ourselves too. Be under no doubt, if the effect of bringing in a law for the health and well being of Kiwis will cost a corporate millions of dollars, part of their lobbying after the TPP is signed, will include threatening to  sue the taxpayers of NZ for compensation (and the case will be decided by a small tribunal of International lawyers appointed by a Council which member states leave to administer and appoint who will hear the case). When that happens, watch such a Bill slip into obscurity. And those corporates wielding that power? Most will never pay a cent of tax into the coffers of NZ taxpayers.

Set aside 7 March 2015 for a concerted effort to show the Government that we will not have our laws subjugated to Corporates and their alleged “right” to make money despite the health or other impacts on our citizens.

Despite the unmistakable message from tens of thousands of kiwis the government is clearly planning to give foreign investors the right to sue in the TPPA and thereby influence the laws we make for our communities.

Just before Xmas they signed a free trade deal with South Korea that has the same powers. This gives us a prime chance to tell the government we totally reject investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) in every deal, and increase the heat over the TPPA

The NZ Korea FTA will go through the façade of a select committee process (that can’t change anything) from around mid-February.

Tim Groser says he can’t release any information because it is in confidence and Wayne Mapp repeats that here as though it can be no other way but EU releases text in US negotiations

On 7 January the EU released a raft of documents it has tabled in the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) with the US. The EU also promised to release the text before it is signed.

The Aussies and US Congress are asking serious questions and beginning to mount opposition and undertake reviews. But not NZ.

Australian Senate inquiry into treaty-making process
The Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Committee of the Australian Senate has launched an inquiry into the treaty making process. That’s possible because the Liberals have lost control of the Senate. The terms of reference include the role of Parliament its committees to review the proposed text, scope for independent assessment, greater openness and transparency.

And why stop at the TPP, moves are afoot to extend the kind of cover to other aspects of our lives including privacy. And why not, our Government is just rolling over;

TPPA  & TISA anti-privacy & pro-spying
Just before Xmas the US proposals for another of the mega-deals – the Trade in Services Agreement – was leaked. The US TPPA negotiator said they wanted the same for TPPA. The text aims to stop governments imposing tighter protections for privacy of data, eg by requiring it is stored in NZ or limiting its transfer offshore. That’s a bonanza for the US with minimal privacy protections and maximum spy laws. See Jane Kelsey’s analysis of the leaked text, and security issues. –

Join the rallies, marches and events in your area: Auckland, Christchurch, Dunedin, Geraldine, Hamilton, Hokianga, Invercargill, Kaitaia, Nelson, Palmerston North, Taranaki, Tauranga, Thames, Whanganui, Wellington, Whangarei

This is NOT a left-wing issue. It must be an every person issue today and in the future. Our right to govern according to the values of our people.

47 comments on “Aussies & US mount opposition to TPPA – but in NZ we just keep nodding”

  1. Tautoko Mangō Mata 1

    Apologies but I am reposting my Open Mike comment about the TPPA here as this link to a study is relevant to your post.
    If you, like me, are concerned about the loss of sovereignty if the TPPA contains an Investor-State Dispute Settlement clause, then the following article will show you are not alone.
    The following link is to a scholarly study carried out to assess the impact of ISDS rules on environmental regulation with respect to the TTIP (a parallel Trade agreement to TPPA between US and EU.)

    “Investor-state Dispute Settlement under TTIP – a Risk for Environmental Regulation?”
    Rules on ISDS in TTIP could have a chiling effect on environmental regulation in the EU and the US”

    “The authors conclude that rules on ISDS are not necessary in an agreement between two highly evolved, rule of law legal systems. By contrast, such rules create significant risks for environmental regulation, because of the broad wording of investment rules and the largely unpredictable manner in which they are interpreted by investment tribunals. States may have to compensate investors for taking legitimate environmental measures. The study recommends not to include such rules in TTIP”

    http://www.ecologic.eu/10402

    It is well worth flicking through the full report.
    http://www.ecologic.eu/sites/files/publication/2014/investor-state-dispute-settlement-under-ttip-hbs.pdf

    • Tracey 1.1

      TMM

      Really appreciate your input. This govt and media are steering the public away from this part of the deal. The implications are not speculative we see cases worldwide where cou tries are being sued for enacting their democratically sanctioned lawz.

  2. The Murphey 2

    Q. How is NZ not to be viewed as a psychological operation ?

    This issue is the most pertinent right now with the consequences if it comes to pass will presumably make the current misery look rather tame by comparison

  3. Tautoko Mangō Mata 3

    Coverage of the issue of lack of transparency in the TPPA negotiations is increasing and here is a good article foreshadowing the letter being published in the Lancet today.
    The heading is “Doctors Worldwide Blast TPP’s ‘Chilling Effect’ on Health, Climate Protections.
    While U.S. corporations have been involved in negotiations, ‘health agencies have been forced to rely on leaks,’ physicians point out in letter to be published Saturday.”

    “The signatories hail from New Zealand, Australia, the U.S., Canada, Chile, Malaysia, and Vietnam—7 of the 12 countries that would be covered by the TPP—and the list includes leaders of the World Medical Association and World Federation of Public Health Associations. The effort was led by medical providers from New Zealand and Australia, who note that TPP provisions could “push up the cost of affordable and life-saving medicines” for vulnerable populations in those countries and elsewhere.’

    http://www.commondreams.org/news/2015/02/13/doctors-worldwide-blast-tpps-chilling-effect-health-climate-protections

    “Leaked documents indicate the [TPP] will have far-reaching implications, including undermining our ability to protect our climate and the future health of New Zealanders—yet the entire agreement is still being kept secret from the public,” said Rhys Jones, co-convener of the Council. “Under the [TPP], the New Zealand government could find itself hamstrung in efforts to reduce climate damaging emissions and to promote health.”

    Jones continued: “The irony is that this same week in Geneva talks continue toward international agreement on climate action, and 13-14 February marks Global Divestment Day as the world increasingly turns from fossil fuels towards clean renewable energy. Yet our government is secretly locking New Zealand into an unhealthy deal to protect corporate profits.”

    It is really important for those few people that have gained an understanding of the issues at stake in the TPPA to make the effort to educate their friends and relatives before it is too late and a done deal. I want Labour to come out and declare that any agreement containing an Investor-State Dispute Settlement system must be rejected. Also No See, No Sign! Proper process to be followed, submissions allowed before any signing AND a big Labour presence at the protest marches on the 7th March.

  4. Tautoko Mangō Mata 4

    Here are examples of the insidious ISDS in which a government can be held to ransom by a corporation.
    1. Eli Lilly
    Canada is being sued by Eli Lilly & Co for $500 million after refusing to grant it a couple of pharma patents.

    2. Lone Pine
    Quebec has yet to decide whether fracking can be conducted safely under the St. Lawrence.

    “If a government is not even allowed to take a time out to study the impact without having to compensate a corporation, it puts a tremendous chill on a governments’ ability to regulate in the public interest,” said Ilana Solomon, director of the Sierra Club’s trade program in Washington, D.C.
    That is, the company concerned is trying to pressure Quebec to lift its moratorium before the latter has had a chance to evaluate all the scientific evidence on fracking, and come to a reasoned decision. That seems to be a typical effect where ISDS clauses are in operation: with the threat of huge claims hanging over them, governments often choose to capitulate and give companies what they want, rather than risk losing before the secretive tribunals that are used to adjudicate such ISDS cases. http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2013/10/03/quebec-fracking-ban-lawsuit_n_4038173.html
    (Note: Lone Pine is actually a Calgary based but because it is registered in Delaware, it is able to sue using the NAFTA ISDS.
    In June 2011, Philip Morris International announced it was using ISDS provisions in the Australia-Hong Kong Bilateral Investment treaty (BIT) to demand compensation for Australia’s plain cigarette packaging anti-smoking legislation.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philip_Morris_International

    “The fear is that both TPP and TAFTA/TTIP will cast a chill over policy making around the Pacific and across the Atlantic, as businesses take advantage of the punitive damages available to bully governments into scrapping existing or proposed regulations in key consumer areas like food, health, safety and the environment.”
    http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2013/10/03/quebec-fracking-ban-lawsuit_n_4038173.html

    Our government can’t even handle Sky City, Warner Brothers or Rio Tinto without rolling over. They are lambs walking to the slaughter with Tim Groser in the lead. Blinkered!!!!

  5. Redelusion 5

    Look global warming is going to wipe us out any way, plus any of a million other Right wing conspiracies you folk are demented about, just chill on the TPP and enjoy what time you have

    • Tautoko Mangō Mata 5.1

      Thank you for expressing the pro-TPPA argument so succinctly, Redelusion.

    • sean kearney 5.2

      Relax and let GMO food give you [r0b: deleted – a bit too far there]. Back to Whale Oil with you mate.

    • saveNZ 5.3

      Enjoy that pack of smokes, gamble all your chips away and don’t have any kids ‘Delusion’ with your climate denying whale oil trolling attitude. We would love TPP to be a right wing conspiracy but unfortunately our fucked up government lackeys who can’t even read the fine print with small fry SkyCity or even arrest a rust bucket recidivist fishing poaching vessel, are signing future generations rights way.

      It’s pretty much The Treaty of Waitangi 2.0 2015. Come plunder our country! Zero hour contracts hooray! Fracking, bring it on!

      It is the Corporatising the Governments and the Privatisation of countries.

      BYO the right wingers in the USA are actually against the TPP. So you can not even call it a right wing conspiracy.

  6. sean kearney 6

    Thank God I’m Australian. Abbott is a buffoon but at least the Senate acts as a foil. Here in NZ there is a piss poor governmental system and some of the worst, utterly toxic politicians I have seem anywhere. They would sell poor old granny to pander to corporate interests.

  7. Wayne 7

    Tracey, since you have cited me, I will give a brief reply (see also my comment under Third Termitis).

    It is easier to have more open negotiations with the EU. The parties are essentially the EU and the US. However TPP involves 12 sovereign countries, not all of whom are open democracies.

    There have actually been a lot of background papers released, though not actual text. Everyone who is interested knows where the hard issues are.

    I expect all sorts of groups will oppose TPP. Will they throw the negotiators and the the various govts off track? Probably not.

    A lot of the opposition to TPP (though not all) comes from the “usual suspects.” And basically they are ignored. So far in New Zealand it is clear to me that most of the opposition to TPP comes from those quarters.

    As an indication of the pressure govts are willing to endure to get a fee trade seal across the line, look at South Korea when the South Korea – US FTA was being negotiated. There were massive demonstrations, but they did not stop it. And they went well beyond the “usual suspects.”

    As i noted in my comment, TPP is a big deal for John Key. He will spend a lot of political capital to sell it. In fact I think he will gain out of it. For John Key to do anything else would probably terminate National as a viable political force for at least a decade. Centre -right activists would loose heart.

    So I assume that all the heat and light in New Zealand around TPP is all about the soul of Labour, and the positioning of the Greens to pick up the Labour left (as opposed to centre-left) vote.

    • vto 7.1

      “A lot of the opposition to TPP (though not all) comes from the “usual suspects.” ”

      … considering the TPP is pushed by the “usual suspects”, namely Key and his ‘big end’ of town.

      and you may want to be wary about thinking the general public doesn’t know about it and a lot of the detail. They do. It gets mentioned in circles surprisingly often.

      And why do you keep calling it a “free trade” deal? It is nothing of the sort.

      It is also worth bearing in mind that the government cannot enter into this agreement as it impinges on the nature of every person’s vote in NZ and that is not something a government can legitimately deal with on its own. It will be flawed from the start.

      • Wayne 7.1.1

        I think a lot of people are interested in the TPP.

        On the centre-right most people trust the govt to get it right. That attitude is essentially the reason why the Nats got re-elected.

        Of course we know the left are opposed, but they generally are opposed to all free trade deals, at least all the ones that have actually been entered into. Because that is well known, they have no influence on centre-right governments on this issue.

        The more interesting group is the centre left who support Labour, and also some in the centre who vote National. I know they have anxieties about TPP, but they generally support FTA’s. The China FTA and CER has reinforced their view the free trade is generally a good thing. And as with the TPP, CER goes well beyond free trade as such, hence the name.

        • millsy 7.1.1.1

          Why do you think it is acceptable for corporations to be able to sue governments?

          Are you happy for NZ to give up its free healthcare system so people can make money?

        • vto 7.1.1.2

          Thanks for the reply Wayne but that was just blither blather on centre-right centre-right etc etc election blah blah blah

          How about a substantive reply on the question I put to you (and also put to you elsewhere) around the inability of a simple majority government to affect the constitutional legitimacy of my vote? You cant enter into the TPPA Wayne, for this reason. It is flawed from the outset.

          And why you let big pharma business in on negotiations but not doctors, surgeons and the people who actually look after our health? Why do you do that Wayne? Why is business profit in the health sector more important than doctors and surgeons in the health sector? Talk about arse-about..

          Two questions ….

        • KJT 7.1.1.3

          Have you ever seen a broad ranging cost benefit analysis of FTA’s?

          Will we ever see one?

          How much are we paying in interest, on borrowing, to China so we can maintain the “free trade” with them, for one? Not to mention the internal costs of unemployment and dropping wages.

          Of course not, because that would show how false the blind faith in “free markets”, is!

          So called business people who cannot see the logical fallacy in “free trade”.

          The magical world of New Zealand’s, Neo-Liberal right wing.


          “One where every country is going to get rich by out exporting every other country”.

          Yeah right.

          The TPPA is simply a corporate Magna Carta which will cement in Neo-liberal market dogma.

        • KJT 7.1.1.4

          “centre-right most people trust the govt to get it right”.

          Does it bother you that implementing your policies is only possible because of blinkered “authoritarian followers”, who prefer to remain ignorant, and a public duped with your propaganda?

          Or do you prefer it that way?

          So right wing Governments can continue to rob New Zealanders with impunity?

          • Wayne 7.1.1.4.1

            KJT (7.1.1.4),

            Well, as a member of parliament once and also as a Minister, I worked on the basis that I anticipated people would trust me as a person of honest intent, and that what I was doing was in the best interests of New Zealand, as I saw the issues. And being elected to Govt meant that I had, to a large extent, a democratic mandate to do what I said I would do.

            Now obviously I knew that many of the the things I was doing might be politically contentious (in the defense area, since Science and Innovation was not contentious), But I operated on the basis the people understood that I and the NZDF were doing the best we could. And that I had said prior to the election that this is what we would do.

            I guess many MP’s and Ministers in both National and Labour work on that basis.

            Obviously I believe in free trade and open economies; no secret there. I don’t see the need to endlessly rehearse every argument on every point of TPP in every post. And in any event I know it would have no effect on many of the commenters. I am really addressing those who might read the comments, but do not necessarily see any need to comment.

            But on the specific point of corporates suing govts. No, I don’t have a problem. If a corporate thinks a govt has acted in breach of trade commitments that the govt has agreed to in a FTA or international agreement that adversely affects the corporate, why should they be able to sue? And I don’t have any problem with the forum being an international tribunal rather than a local court. Disclaimer here; in the early 1990’s I used to teach a course, “Transnational Litigation and Arbitration” as an LLM course.

            • millsy 7.1.1.4.1.1

              Well, there you go. If the government decides raise the minimum wage, increase sick leave entitlements, or strengthen the public provision of education/health, or even take steps to ensure that water reticulation is kept in public hands, then according to the Hon. Wayne Mapp, it is perfectly fine for corporates to sue.

              There you go people.

              100-odd years ago, people like Mapp would have been tarred, feathered and run out of town on a rail.

              • Wayne

                None of the things you mention would be a breach of a FTA, since they are not the sort of things that are agreed to in FTA’s. And they won’t be in TPP.

                It has to be a specific undertaking the govt has made in the FTA, something like all companies have equal access to bid on govt contracts (as in CER). That is an example only since I don’t think that concept will be in TPP. I could see the NZ govt agreeing to limited access for pharmaceutical companies to deal directly with DHB’s, rather than only through Pharmac.

                • One Anonymous Bloke

                  they won’t be

                  I imagine you have some knowledge of our ‘bottom lines’ that makes that more than a personal opinion.

                  • Tracey

                    He cannot. That would be a breach of the confidentiality of the parties and would impugn his integrity. he is “surmising”.

                    • Wayne

                      Tracey, yes it is an assumption, but I do have some sense how far the various negotiating states will go based on experience and the previous practice of the states. Most of them are democracies of one sort or another.

                      Generally govts like to get re-elected. So they know how far they can go.

                      You only have to look at SkyCity to see that the Govt responds to public pressure that comes from middle NZ. By and large they bought the idea of a convention centre that did not require public money, but as soon as that was a prospect they reacted. And John Key listened.

                    • One Anonymous Bloke

                      If that’s the idea they bought, who lied to them? Lots of public money going into this deal, and that’s before we even start counting the cost of money laundering, corruption and misery.

                    • Tracey

                      Wayne

                      But first he tried to get away with something…

                • Tracey

                  You have stated that you have not seen the draft of the TPP. You have stated that you support keeping the clauses secret. leaving aside millsy’s examples, how can you know what is or is not being agreed to and how it may impact our ability to pass legislation pursuant to our democractic system. Again Wayne, can you give a guarantee that nothing in the TPP will leave NZ open to being sued for lost profits by a corporate which may feel, for example, it’s “right” to sell cigarettes, frack or anything else has been legislation against following a mandate to a government from a democratic election?

            • KJT 7.1.1.4.1.2

              So it is fine when the corporate right to sue overrides the Government’s duty to act in the best interests of those who have elected them?

              When we cannot sue the Government when it acts against our interests?

              I do give you credit for believing you are doing the right things, same as I do to Rodney Hide, but the evidence shows otherwise.

              I think however that depth of thought, and acting in their citizens best interest, is foreign to our present Government, as their obligations are those who have bought them. Sky city is just the tip of the iceberg.

              Just as the 1984 Labour Government proceeded on the basis of religious belief in the “free market” and ” private enterprise” funded by the “businesspeople” who made a fortune out of asset thefts..

            • Tracey 7.1.1.4.1.4

              Can you provide some specific details on the Tribunal that will be used under the TPP, how members will be selected to sit in Judgment and the process of media reporting of the hearings and publication of full decisions?

        • Tracey 7.1.1.5

          so the conern in aussie and the usa is from suits and ties but here it is the ad hominem “usual suspects”.

          you and your “oppose all trade deals” is getting tiresome and is an obvious deflection.
          address the suing that is going on, almost exclusively by corps against govts
          address the tribunal
          address the influence on our law making

          are you prepared to underwrite taxpayers i. case you are wrong.

          • Wayne 7.1.1.5.1

            To be fair, Tracey, I use the term “usual suspects” as a reference to “Casablanca” (which I am sure you know). But it rather sums up the opposition, when so many of them oppose every FTA they see.

            So for “oppose all trade deals,” well it is a fact for a lot of those who oppose TPP.

            • Tracey 7.1.1.5.1.1

              QED

            • KJT 7.1.1.5.1.2

              In other words, if people around the world really knew the long term effect of FTA’s, and the TPPA in particular, they would inconveniently throw out any Government that supports FTA’s.

              Same as if National were honest and told us how their policies were going to affect the majority of us, they would be as unpopular as ACT, who have the same intentions but are honest about them.

            • vto 7.1.1.5.1.3

              The supposed blindness of those opposed to trade deals compared to the proven blindness of those in support of trade deals.

              It must be remembered that these trade deals form part of the great neoliberal paradigm….. a paradigm which has now been proved to have very limited application…. a paradigm which failed at Pike River, failed with supply of housing (housing crisis), failed with construction of housing (leaky homes), failed with financial markets (GFC)……..

              …. yet still the usual suspects blindly adhere to its failed ideology. Lest they lose face eh Wayne, lest you lose face …

              generational change is what is required – at least in the National Party. Eh Wayne.

              • Tracey

                And Wayne only ever essentially says “Trust the negotiators” when asked about details which concern people…

                It is VERY hard to trust a government with a litany of mistruths or half truths such as this one…

                Why only a couple of weeks ago it turned out they had completely stuffed up a free convention centre to rival to worlds…

        • Tracey 7.1.1.6

          🙄

        • Lloyd 7.1.1.7

          Actually when you explain the detail of the TPPA to the ‘middle-of-the -road’ ‘man-in-the-street’ they are usually strongly opposed to it. Only the far-right zealots choose to ignore the problems and keep on reciting the free-trade mantras.

          There is no centre-right remaining in the present government as far as I can see. The whole shooting match is a neo-liberal lets-sell-it-all-off cabal. There is a large group of ‘middle-of’the-roaders’ who are just beginning to see that the present occupants of the government benches would be better dressed in black-shirt than blue suits. Once this realisation fully sinks in the Nats will face a bleak few years in parliament.

    • millsy 7.2

      Why do you think it is acceptable for corporates to sue governments?

    • KJT 7.3

      Now you are telling us that South Korea is as undemocratic as New Zealand.

      A Government that does what it likes, when it is against not only the wishes of the public, but also against their best interests, is called a dictatorship.

      • Tracey 7.3.1

        I f you read Waynes last few posts on TPP it is essentially the same mantra never addressing the actual opposition from people. The threat to sovereign law making and taxpayers being blackmailed by corporates… most of whom will never pay tax here.

        anyone who bothers to read jane kelsey knows her issue is not with trade at all but with closed tribunals, stacked with corp chosen lawyers deciding if govts shld compensate companies cos nations put health before profit.

        • Tautoko Mangō Mata 7.3.1.1

          Agree, Tracey.
          Answer this, please Wayne. Do you honestly think that NZ should sign up to a TPPA which contains an ISDS? Can you not see the fishhooks when there are the
          Canadian examples of Lone Pine/Quebec fracking moratorium,
          Eli Lilly/patents invalidated plus the
          Philip Morris Hong Kong/Australia plain tobacco packaging.
          Also
          “Swedish company Vattenfall is suing Germany for billions in future lost profits due to German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s proclamation that after the horrors of Fukushima, Germany no longer supports nuclear energy development, as Der Spiegel International reports. Unfortunately, that decision is apparently not up to the German government and people. Vattenfall believes its future profits come first, and if Germany goes non-nuclear, Vattenfall and presumably others must be paid off based on the inclusion of ISDS as part of trade policy within the European Union.

          There are 500 similar cases of corporate state vs. nation state currently pending in every continent, based on almost every trade deal since the North American Free Trade Agreement. Veolia, the giant French-based transportation company, is suing Egypt for raising its minimum wage, which would mean higher pay for workers at the Alexandria bus company it owns and thus lower profits. ”
          http://www.huffingtonpost.com/larry-cohen/report-from-berlin-global_1_b_5588169.html

          What makes you think that we should have confidence in our Government’s negotiating skills when we have the current debacle of the Sky City Conference Centre as an example of its incompetence?

  8. Lloyd 8

    The main argument used by multi-national pharmaceutical companies for justifying their huge drug costs is that they need the money for research to find new drugs. Recent reports show the amount big US drug companies spend on advertising their products is vastly bigger than what they spend on research. Basically the drug companies do not need the big profits to fund research, They are wasting what they get on funding conventions and other perks for GPs in the US. Pharmac pays what is more than reasonable for the drugs selected, and the rest of the world needs to be told the truth.

    Any degrading of Pharmac a result of the TPPA will cause deaths among sick New Zealanders. If you wave a gun around and threaten to kill New Zealanders you will be labelled a terrorist and donkey will get the boys in uniform to take you out. Threaten to kill New Zealanders by increasing essential drug prices? Donkey will polish up the government BMWs to escort you around town to a shiny convention centre,

    New Zealand should be selling the Pharmac model as a condition of entry to all the other potential member states in the agreement, Anything else would be a criminal act against the people of New Zealand. Spreading the Parmac model would be an action that would do far more as foreign aid than sending a bunch of guys to Iraq to show the Iraq army how to stand up straight.

    • Tracey 8.1

      Exactly. Pharmac works precisely because of the model it is based on and it is a model, like ACC, which is an anathema to governments (read corporate donors) like the USA.

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