Back in January 2016, the NZ Labour Party had this to say about its position on the TPP-
In Government, we’ll go back to the TPPA partners and renegotiate the deal to make sure New Zealand’s sovereignty is protected.
As I argued at the time, that position wasn’t tenable because every partner to the agreement has a veto over any change any other government or governments might want to make to any provision of the TPP.
Fast forward to today, and it appears NZ Labour has stepped away from claims it could renegotiate clauses in the TPP.
Jacinda Ardern was interviewed by Guyon Espinar on Morning Report. Much of the interview focussed on Labour’s approach to the TPP in light of their desire to shut foreigners out of NZs housing market.
So Jacinda reiterated that NZ Labour is a party that “believes in free trade and has championed it.” In other words, and not surprisingly, NZ Labour has no ideological opposition to the TPP.
She said, on announcing an option on foreign investment on housing before APEC (in November?) and before any further TPP talks –
“’I’m going to make sure I look at all the options available to us. I will be announcing when we settle on a resolution – which option is going to work best for us.”
So what are the options that NZ Labour is looking at in the lead-up to this resolution on which option is going to work best for us”?
Well, there’s this kind of circular …
“If we find the right mechanism which can deliver what we’ve always sought, which is the effect of being able to ban foreign buyers – if that is in place before TPP11 is ratified – our understanding is that it would achieve the outcome that we’re looking for.
No shit Sherlock!
But anyway, I kept listening out for any mention of any potentially appropriate mechanism.
We have to use the right mechanism as well, because there are implications for the different tools that you’ll use, so we’re looking at making sure that we’ll get that right so that we’re not acting in a way that’s counter to other agreements in the mechanism that we use. But yes, my understanding is that there is the possibility if we find the right mechanism – to be able to get this in place before ratification – then it would be able to take effect” (my emphasis)
So let’s nut this down.
NZ Labour have stepped away from their previous untenable position on re-negotiation. They do want to sign up to TPP 11. However, they want to shut down the housing market to foreigners. But they have no idea how to square that circle and so are reduced to waffling about “right mechanisms” when they haven’t identified ‘jack shit’ by way of a “right mechanism”; when in reality, they’re hopelessly casting around for a magician with a rabbit and a magic hat.
I do hope some-one’s taking tea and sannies down to the poor souls consigned to the dusty vaults and basements who, in all probability are this very minute frantically scouring legal tomes for any possibility of a “work a round”.
What will be of real interest though, beyond all waffle and wank, is whether NZ Labour withdraws New Zealand from the TPP if and when the magician, the rabbit and the hat can’t be found. Or whether they’ll plead they did their best, that free trade is good, and though the housing market thing is unfortunate, that’s all the fault of the previous government. And now is the time for all Kiwi’s to pull together and free trade is good. Yes, yes – the housing. But free trade is good!
Bryan Gould has done a couple of excellent pieces covering that latter governing mind set that seeks to conform rather than confront. I’m not going to quote from them because they’re absolutely worth reading in full with everything in context.
Just as an afterthought, can anyone give me a heads-up on whether among all the talk of ‘caring’ and ‘being better’, there was much talk of listening? Because from across much of the political spectrum, I’m pretty damned sure the call went up, and very loud and clear, that the TPP wasn’t wanted. Or was I suffering some form of auditory hallucination?