The indispensable Professor Andrew Geddis (via Pundit) writes on the process required to ratify TPP11:
Why the TPP11 will have to go back before Parliament
by Andrew Geddis
We might expect that if and when the TPP11 parties come to an agreement, our elected representatives will be able to sit down and collectively discuss these sorts of matters before binding us to the deal. After all, that’s what they got to do with the TPP itself, when the grand prize of US involvement was on the table. Surely without that benefit on offer, they’ll need to regroup and think whether the remaining benefits justify any domestic costs that we might incur.
Or … maybe not. For during an interview with Suzie Ferguson on RNZ’s Morning Report, Bill English had this to say:
SF: “[The TPP 11 is] a different beast now, so are you going to have to go back to Parliament?”
BE: ” Look, that would depend on whether the content of the agreement had changed significantly … ah, that’s the advice I have … ”
SF: “Is it not a big enough change in itself with the US, the biggest individual partner, pulling out?”
BE: “My advice is that’s not necessarily the case, it would only involve some technical changes in accession to the agreement.”
Bill English seems to be saying he’s received advice that because the original TPP has undergone this scrutiny and been reported on, there’s no need for a new TPP11 to go through the process again. That strikes me as formalistic nonsense.
Yes, the aim appears to be for the TPP11 to contain all the same substantive provisions as the original TPP. But these provisions were examined against the background expectation that the agreement would deliver us a long sought after free trade deal with the US. All the cost-benefit analysis in the Select Committee’s report proceeded on this basic assumption.
So to now say “oh – Parliament already has looked at this deal and decided it is OK, so there’s no need to go back again” when the very basis of the deal on offer has fundamentally changed is flat out constitutionally wrong. It would fundamentally undermine the already limited role that Parliament plays in holding to account the executive government’s use of its foreign relations prerogative.
I’ve just been sent a memorandum that the Crown filed with the Waitangi Tribunal on 11 May of this year. (The Tribunal currently is hearing a claim that the original TPP represents a breach of the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi.) Here’s what that memo says:
Ratification does not apply to any future alternative to the TPP
- The Crown has previously advised the Tribunal that the remaining TPP partners, including New Zealand, are currently discussing possible next steps.
- Should an alternative agreement be proposed, it would constitute a new treaty and would be required to pass through the legal processes required for New Zealand to enter into an international Treaty. Consultation with Maori about how their interests could be affected or advanced will be required. The process conducted for the TPP to date cannot act as a substitute for the process that would be required for any alternative agreement.
So either Bill English was lying to Susie Ferguson on the radio, or his advisors lied to him about what TPP11 will require, or the Crown’s lawyers are lying to the Waitangi Tribunal. I report, you decide.
Much much more on Pundit, go read the whole piece there.