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Labour to entrench SOEs

Written By: - Date published: 2:00 pm, June 20th, 2011 - 92 comments
Categories: labour, privatisation - Tags:

Phil Goff has just announced that Labour is putting up a private members’ bill to entrench SOEs. This would mean they could only be sold either with 75% support of Parliament, or with majority support in a referendum. Great stuff. That effectively means any asset sale will have to go to a public vote. These are our assets. They should not be sold without our permission.

Once assets are sold, they are gone forever (unless we are forced to buy them back once private owners have asset stripped and run vital infrastructure into the ground). It’s not good enough that a government can make such irreversible decisions without a mandate or claiming a mandate on the thin pretext that it was one of the many policies that it sought election on.

Of course, this Bill is unlikely to get drawn this term, much get the support needed from National for a super-majority. Also, Labour is using delaying tactics on members’ days to stop the VSM Bill – I note this is Farrar’s only objection to the Bill, he doesn’t argue with the principal behind it.

This is a clear sign that the sixth Labour-led government will implement this law when they win in November. The law will still need 75% support to pass, but it would be a foolhardy National opposition that would block it.

In the long-run, this will protect New Zealand. Right now, it only takes one term of a rightwing government to lose the assets we have built up together over generations. Labour’s law will mean that any government that wants to sell our assets will have to get us to specifically agree first.

92 comments on “Labour to entrench SOEs ”

  1. Does a private members bill have to be drawn from a ballot?
    Can passing legislation occur before the election if drawn from a ballot?

  2. Portion Control 2

    Labour are struggling to get 30%. What makes them think they are going to get 75% support for this stupid law?

    Why would National ever vote for this law when it just binds their hands?

    Why didn’t Phil Goff introduce this law back when he was selling SOEs?

    When will Labour have the time to introduce this Bill given that it is fillibustering every member’s day to block the VSM legislation?

    • Colonial Viper 2.1

      Apparently laws which protect NZ strategic assets from being sold off are “stupid” according to Portion Control.

      Which rich foreign investors do you work for mate.

      this Bill given that it is fillibustering every

      You’re really a mixed up Republican import.

      • Bazar 2.1.1

        Another quality post by Viper

        – Compleatly missing the point
        – Providing no meaningful infomation
        – Ad Hom attack on the author

        But to play devils advocate, AND not pull a viper, i’ll actually provide content

        “Labour are struggling to get 30%. What makes them think they are going to get 75% support for this stupid law?”

        You assume they think they’ll pass this. Its just politics, showing how much they are against selling SoE without actually committing anything. Doesn’t matter if it’ll never pass, the fact will be that they tried, (or more likly simply suggested it).

        “Why didn’t Phil Goff introduce this law back when he was selling SOEs?”
        Because then it’d get in the way of labour’s politics, obviously.

        “When will Labour have the time to introduce this Bill given that it is fillibustering every member’s day to block the VSM legislation?”
        Never most likley, but then again i doubt they are serious.
        I’m not familar with palament’s formalities but i believe the party could adopt the member’s bill and then it’d get actual debating time. But its just a members bill with 1 mp’s backing currently.

        Its the same with VSM. National could adopt it and push it though, but they simply aren’t, and are letting labour continue their filibuster.

        If i’m wrong on these member bill procedures feel free to explain how it works.

        • McFlock 2.1.1.1

          While I have deep reservations about goff and labour, the fact that this is even on the table bodes well for new zealand’s future. Credit where credit is due, they might be getting the point at last.

        • Colonial Viper 2.1.1.2

          Another quality post by Viper

          – Compleatly missing the point
          – Providing no meaningful infomation
          – Ad Hom attack on the author

          Why thank you :mrgreen:

    • What makes you think they need 75% support for this law?
      I will concede I haven’t seen it, but unless they are proposing to entrench legislation (which doesn’t appear to be the case from what I’ve seen), then 75% won’t be needed.

  3. Policy Parrot 3

    Is there not a fundamental flaw with such a measure?

    While I certainly support the intent, there was a similar proposal a while ago to entrench the Maori seats, requiring a 66% or 75% majority to abolish them. But from what I recall, the measure enacting this protection cannot be given this type of protection itself, so a government would only have pass legislation of a simple majority repealing the need to have such a majority, and then repeal the original Act.

    As far as I am aware, in New Zealand there is no legal standing for a “higher law”, such as entrenchment other than public/legal opprobrium, because Parliament is supreme.

    • Draco T Bastard 3.1

      An entrenched law requires super-majority to remove it as well. No point to it otherwise.

      • queenstfarmer 3.1.1

        Parrot is correct. The entrenching section (or any other fetter) can be repealed by simple majority. Entrenchment is only moral, in that it looks more “illegitimate” to bypass it by less than the super-majority.

  4. Tangled up in blue 4

    So because this is a a private members bill, does this mean it’s not a policy they intend to introduce if it happens NOT to be drawn?

    • Blighty 4.1

      private member’s bills are the only way for non-government parties to put up legislation.

      they usually get the approval of the party’s caucus before being announced.

      seeing as this one was announced by the party leader, I would say it’s Labour policy.

      • Tangled up in blue 4.1.1

        Ok but is there any reason for them not to release this as ‘Labour Policy’ rather than a private members bill?

        • Blighty 4.1.1.1

          huh? a Labour Party private member’s bill is Labour Party policy.

          • Gosman 4.1.1.1.1

            Not necessarily. This is a rather interesting way of doing things and one I haven’t seen being used very often. Given we are less than six months away from the election and that The National Party has made the partial sell off of certain S.O.E’s an election issue I don’t see that the Labour Party needed to do anything more than announce this as policy as well.

            • Lanthanide 4.1.1.1.1.1

              I agree, Gosman.
               
              Seeing Labour announce this as only a private member’s bill, and not simultaneously saying it is also policy for the election, raises my eyebrows. I can only assume that they will announce it as policy later, but I don’t know why they didn’t just do it now, too.

              • Tangled up in blue

                By releasing it only as a members bill I can see why the NBR and others are suggesting that Labour lack confidence in winning the election.

                • Lanthanide

                  Which is a trifle in the grand scheme of things.
                   
                  But at the same time, why even give the opposition the opportunity to make that assertion? And, if the Labour Party didn’t see that as a possible outcome of this announcement, why not?

              • Lanthanide

                So why not just cross the t’s and dot the i’s then and announce that this entrenchment bill will also be election policy? What is the reason for NOT doing that? Maybe it’s just a timing thing, maybe not.

              • Gosman

                I must have missed the bit on that website where it mentions passing a law requiring 75% support for any SOE Asset sale in future is now official Labour Party policy after the next election. Would you kindly point me to where it states that?

                • Um Policy is stuff the party promises to do.
                   
                  Labour promises to introduce the legislation.
                   
                  If Labour is in Government it promises not to sell assets.
                   
                  Are you suggesting that it will introduce a bill and then vote against it?
                   
                  I understand the lack of trust that RWNJs/lefties have for Labour/National but with the greatest respect how clear does it have to be?

                  • Lanthanide

                    Are you suggesting that saying “We promise not to sell state assets” and that saying “We promise that when we are elected we will pass a law requiring 75% of parliament to agree to asset sales” are the same thing?
                     
                    Because I don’t think they are the same thing at all. Related things, yes.

              • TightyRighty

                It makes no mention of the super majority being labour policy mickey? Why don’t you write another email to whaleoil asking him to make labour make it policy? He’s getting pretty good at having labour dance to his tune these days.

                • Why don’t you write another email to whaleoil asking him to make labour make it policy?
                   
                  I am trying to give up engaging in correspondence with Cameron.
                   
                  It is like debating with a deaf rottweiler …

                  • lprent

                    You’re denigrating him. The rottweiler has more intelligence and is better socially adjusted for its species. Comparing something well adjusted to Cameron is a case of comparing apples with oranges.

                    • : )

                      I can’t do those real smiley faces. I obviously need a lesson from Spud …

                      [lprent: don’t put the space between : and ) And have a look here. ]

                    • felix

                      Also a rottweiler can be toilet trained. Cameron just flings his shit everywhere.

                  • TightyRighty

                    Much like you are trying to stop making an arse of yourself? you’re much more successful at resisting the urge to type tipoff [at] whaleoil.co.nz as he hasn’t re-posted any more emails from you, but you keep commenting here.

                    [lprent: Broke the e-mail address. Please don’t leave them here. They encourage the spammer harvester bots to congregate on the site hunting for more. ]

        • SHG 4.1.1.2

          Ok but is there any reason for them not to release this as ‘Labour Policy’ rather than a private members bill?

          Certainly.

          As a private member’s bill there is zero chance of this bill ever reaching the floor while Labour is filibustering the VSM bill. So this is a way of Labour scoring media points (“we’re against asset sales!”) without needing to commit to actually doing something. (For another exampe see: “Axe the Tax”).

          This is theatre, nothing more.

          • Colonial Viper 4.1.1.2.1

            This is theatre, nothing more.

            Ah, but the theatre is where the war is fought 🙂

            • SHG 4.1.1.2.1.1

              Let me put it another way: this is Phil Goff smiling and waving. Looks good in the papers, doesn’t actually affect anything.

              • McFlock

                Actually, no. It’s a clear position statement  – if labour can cobble together a coalition after the election and withdrew this bill, they’d have answer why.

                And if they can’t form a coalition after the election, the bill is in the ballot. Might be interesting if ACT are out after the election – national vs a coalition partner who is forced to declare whether they are for or against asset sales. Really, Act are the only minor party who could oppose it without looking like hypocritical asses (which is why they needed Rodney in for so long, and Calvert giving a speech why they opposed a bill before voting for it, etc).

                • Lanthanide

                  All private members bills expire at the end of a parliamentary term. So adding the bill to the ballot now means nothing after the election.

                • McFlock

                  True my bad.

                  But they’d still have to explain why a proposal that was good enough to propose with entrenchment before the election would be allowed to lapse when they’re in a position to pass it. And they can just resubmit it after the election if they lose.

                  • SHG

                    But they’d still have to explain….

                    Bahahahaha, yes, sure they would.

                    • McFlock

                      Well, unlike the past 8 years or so where NZ has been devoid of specific policy pronouncements (all this “working to achieve” and “standing beside” bullshit), this is something someone can be called on. Key is a master of saying completely nonsensical gobbledegook that sounds nice and positive, but if you challenge him later on a “commitment” then you’d be wrong. This is a specific boolean case: if labour win, it’s either a govt bill or it isn’t. If it’s not, then it’s just a clear lie.

  5. Jum 5

    If these SOEs are sold after the TPPA is signed off, then it will be much harder to renationalise OUR SOEs without being sued for mega-money, because government action will be harming the shareholders’ bottom line.

    Better that we stop it happening. Better that it be made absolutely clear that any attempt by foreign invasionist country corporates to sue the government – that is we New Zealanders – in secret court hearings as is the norm with these agreements, will bring instant media and blogging attention to the fact that ‘we’ are being sued.

    We know that this government has set in motion many new measures that will take away any freedoms that we have should we attempt to stand and fight for the democracy of our country. Shame on them. We must find alternative ways and means therefore, not only media (foreign-owned) or our beloved blogs, that will spread that information. 1951 proved that when people believe in themselves they will find those ways and means.

    The government mistakenly continues to tell New Zealanders it owns the assets of New Zealanders.

    ‘It’ does not.

    The government is simply a group of people some of whom have been charged with the solemn duty to carry out the wishes of New Zealanders and to be faithful to an egalitarian societal contract. At present this government is failing in its duty.

    A vote of No Confidence in John Key and his government.

  6. djg 6

    Will Labour stop the fillibuster of VSM to allow the bill a chance of being drawn this term?

    • Lanthanide 6.1

      Another reason why announcing this as a private members bill, instead of just an election policy, was a bad idea. It unnecessarily draws attention to the private members bill system, which Labour is currently in the middle of undermining in a by-the-rules-but-still-looks-dodgy manner at the moment.

    • Jum 6.2

      Djg

      Why do you want them to?

      • djg 6.2.1

        Yes I do.

        • Jum 6.2.1.1

          Djg

          Don’t be obtuse, or what I really wanted to say – mentally slow. If I wanted a yes or no reply I would have typed a comma by the ‘Why’.

          I’ll try again:

          Why do you want Labour to stop the fillibuster of VSM to allow the bill a chance of being drawn this term?

          Labour has told New Zealanders what it intends to do re saving our assets. It has made its stand just as National has. However, National played dirty and included it in the budget so it obviously believes it is going to win. We’ll see about that…

          New Zealanders must make a choice this year – vote in National and lose everything they have worked for and wanted to pass on as valuable income earning complete assets to their children or vote in Labour and know these assets will be safe for their children’s future i.e. ALL New Zealand children’s futures.

          Goff also knows how much damage has already been done by successive asset stealing governments to New Zealand. He wants to ensure New Zealand sees no more betrayal wrought by the greedy rightwing of this country. Don’t blame Goff for what the current greedy Douglas wrought in the 80s. There were several of them in that marriage – Lange, Douglas, Caygill, Bassett, Moore and the villain Prebble who turned our assets into a business model with the intention of selling them off. Lange is dead, Douglas is in Act, Caygill is advising National, Bassett who blames everything on women wanting to be other than doormats and is extremely vocal in endorsing NAct and Prebble who assists all rightwing lobbyists and backers who hate Labour and anyone on the left.

          So, Djg, try that answer again and stop your crap.

          • Chris 6.2.1.1.1

            So you also want the filibuster to stop so the bill can be drawn?

            Your entire post about why this bill is good has absolutely nothing to do with why Labour should continue with the filibuster.

            As to your original question my guess is Djg is the same as me and believes that VSM is a good thing and Labour should stop so that the bill can be passed and we can get onto new private member bills such as this.

            • Policy Parrot 6.2.1.1.1.1

              If you are so worried about the VSM bill making it to law, why don’t you simply demand that National end the charade, and move it as a government bill?

              They have the power to overcome the filibuster in this way, but they choose not to. In addition, Labour’s filibustering of the issue doesn’t compare to ACT’s filibuster of the Marine and Coastal Area Bill/Repeal of FSA 2004.

              • Chris

                I’m not so worried about VSM becoming law that I would go out of my way to demand it be introduced as a government, I was just answering Jum’s question.

                It just seems pointless to me to make a big announcement about introducing a private members bill when they are responsible for there being no chance of it being drawn before the election anyway.

                On another note what does ACT filibustering have to do with anything? When did ACT doing something in anyway add legitimacy to the act? I thought everyone knew they were nut jobs.

            • Jum 6.2.1.1.1.2

              Chris,

              Are you talking to me Chris? Have you caught the obtuse bug as well?

              Why is VSM a good thing?

              Neither you nor the other obtuse bug carrier have answered a direct question. Why is that? Is the answer one of ultimate future harm to people and advantage to the moneytrader and backers who have control of this country?

              • Chris

                I didn’t think I was being obtuse? For me personally VSM isn’t a good thing it is the removal of a bad thing. I don’t think anyone should be forced to join a union and there is no reason why they should be cumpolsory. Personally I would have joined my student union anyway but that’s beside the point.

                It seems to be you are the one being obtuse because you have yet to say why VSM is good. Could be wrong but you seem to be getting the VSM bill mixed up with the bill this article is talking about.

                • Jum

                  Chris and Djg,

                  I don’t NEED to say anything. You two are the ones waffling on and playing the distraction game.

                  • Chris

                    In other words you did get them mixed up. Nice work.

                    • Jum

                      Chris,

                      Like I said, you’re playing the distraction game. You keep asking me questions to distract from the fact that you have no ‘plan’ to answer honestly or completely why you are crosby and textoring about VSM. The government is doing that in Parliament; you are doing the same.

                      I expected you to at least admit that destroying support bases weakens the strength of any group and you can control them better. I expected you to at least admit that if you suggested a referendum amongst the group actually affected they might say MYOB or in their terms fxxk off. Anything that NAct does is designed to weaken the collective strength of people as that makes them easier to manage.

                      But then, like I said, you have no intention of admitting your agenda to destroy New Zealanders in line with what will happen when the TPPA is forced through.

  7. The Baron 7

    Yawn. When will labour ever have the super majority necessary to enact this?
    This “great stuff” is just pointless grandstanding.

    • Colonial Viper 7.1

      This “great stuff” is just pointless grandstanding.

      In reality, Labour is opening up clear bright daylight between it and National on this issue.

      I’m hoping that all the Right Wing ‘sell NZ off’ vampires crumble into dust come Nov 2011.

      • The Baron 7.1.1

        Uhuh. And you reckon that Labour will be able to muster up a super majority then too?
        If not, then I guess you’re agreeing with my point on the pointlessness of this drap; if so, then you are seriously deluded.

        • Tangled up in blue 7.1.1.1

          The pubic certainly don’t want asset sales. So if there was a clear majority from a referendum then the only thing stopping this ‘super majority’ would be a National Party voting against what their constituents want.

      • TightyRighty 7.1.2

        If nothing else, you should get an award for perpetually being so willfully stupid.

        “clear bright daylight”, sunlight is the best disinfectant, just look at all the policy that labour has announced since it got caught with it’s pants down over it’s server

        • Colonial Viper 7.1.2.1

          🙂 You Righties are on a hiding to nothing; Labour is opening up clear daylight between their position and the sell outs called John Key and Bill english.

    • wtl 7.2

      Am I hardly an law expert, but I imagine another option would be to alter entrenchment law so that it can be enacted with either a super majority or public support in referendum (i.e. mirroring the case for disestablishing an entrenched law). Then all Labour needs to do is put the issue to the public.

      • That is already the case.
        That is how the Electoral Act 1993 (which contains the only entrenching clause in our statute book) was enacted.

        • wtl 7.2.1.1

          Thanks for clarifying this. I half expected this to be the case, but comments here and elsewhere implied that it wasn’t so I thought not.

  8. Oleolebiscuitbarrell 8

    These are our assets.

    I’ve got an idea. Only those who are net contributors to the State’s purse get a vote in any referendum.

    • r0b 8.1

      Why not go all the way Ole – no votes for beneficiaries?

      • RedLogix 8.1.1

        How about no votes unless you are white, male, and own land?

      • Bed Rater 8.1.2

        Bit slow there Rob.. That would be the case.

        • Oleolebiscuitbarrell 8.1.2.1

          The case for the assets not being able to be sold by the elected government is framed on the basis that the people who paid for the assets are not being asked. If this is to hold true, surely you need to ask only the people who paid for them.

          • r0b 8.1.2.1.1

            What, over the last say, 20 years (50? 100?). And you’re going to work that out how?

            Every person gets an equal vote. Start messing with that and you open a real can of worms.

            • Oleolebiscuitbarrell 8.1.2.1.1.1

              Well, I wasn’t the one who said that the assets could not be sold because the people who paid for them were not being asked. I admit it is problematic.

              Everyone gets to decide whether or not to cast his or her vote for a party which is openly stating what it will do with certain, selected government-owned assets. Vote for it, or don’t. I am just not sure why one side of the argument should be obliged to get 75%.

              • r0b

                I think “the people” there was being used in a generic sense, not a specific!

                • Oleolebiscuitbarrell

                  Every person gets an equal vote. Start messing with that and you open a real can of worms.

                  But what you propose is that a vote to sell assets is not as equal as a vote not to. I need 3.1 votes to sell for every one vote not to.

                  You have worms all over your lap. You are to blame.

                  • r0b

                    There is “supermajority” legislation all over the place in various countries.  It’s not exactly a radical proposal.  And it’s still an equal vote for every person.

    • Good grief.

      Oleolebiscuitbarrell, why are you conflating ‘These are our assets’ with particular individuals ‘paying’ for them? Nowhere in the post does it say that those who paid for the assets should say if and when they are sold. It says that those whose assets they are should have a say. You seem to have projected your own meaning of ownership onto the post.

      They are ‘our’ assets by virtue of democratic decision – in particular, the decision that they will be built up through general taxation. General taxation is society’s return on its prior investments in society (if you like). 

      Once again, you have misread the post. It doesn’t say anything about asking ‘those who paid for the assets’ – it says those whose assets they are should be asked. Eminently democratic, I would have thought.

  9. millsy 9

    Such measures need to include the billions of dollars in community and council owned assets, ie ports, local lines companies, fibre/broadband networks, bus companies (too late for Citibus – fuck you Dave Cull), etc and so on.

    The is a lot of stuff that needs protecting.

    • marsman 9.1

      Damn right millsy! A country with a society for the people, not a country and a society for corporate exploitation!

  10. Great idea.
    Shame it’s 20 years too late and comes when there’s little left to preserve.
    But I suppose I should be grateful for Labour coming out with policy I can support.

  11. burt 11

    Well I guess if we want to lock our country in a time capsule as at the date the law passes – then great.

    Good luck getting any new SOE’s established when the consequence of doing that is that it’s virtually locked and loaded for ever, at the whim of the govt de jour but can’t be sold – brilliant ! A worthless money pit for popularity bonanza’s.

    It’s an election year, you people know this and you still pick up this kind of dumb ass idea and agree with it. Making them unsellable entities makes them state owned “departments” which is exactly why they are structured like they are – so they are not govt departments.

    • wtl 11.1

      It isn’t locked forever by any stretch of the imagination. All that is required is a supermajority in parliament or a (simple) majority in a referendum. If selling a certain SOE is a good idea, surely it will be a simple matter to obtain one form of support or the other? Or are you complaining that it will be hard to do so when it is NOT a good idea?

  12. burt 12

    All that is required is a supermajority in parliament or a (simple) majority in a referendum.

    If we (NZ as a country) had a history of either simple, timely or binding referendums then I would lean a bit your way. A supermajority, now when did we last have one of them?

    I can’t imagine the gravity a situation other than war that would stop our parliament being status quo ‘fastest law makers in the west resisted by her majesties loyal opposite’ to agree 75% on what are typically election issues. I simply can’t comment on how hard or not a binding referendum would be to hold in NZ.

    Perhaps there are other ways the people could decide, like buy shares – or not.

    • Puddleglum 12.1

      A supermajority, now when did we last have one of them?

      My understanding is that we often have ‘supermajorities’ on legislation (e.g., the law repealing Section 59).

      Sometimes we even have unanimous votes.

      • burt 12.1.1

        Excellent, well done. The context was however “enshrined legislation” not increases in the MPs super scheme.

    • wtl 12.2

      The fact that we do not have a long history of binding referenda in NZ is a poor excuse for arguing that we should not do them more often. And, I don’t quite get your point as to ‘how hard’ it would be to hold a referendum – the process itself is simple. Are you trying to say that it might be difficult to get approval for a certain issue (e.g. assets sales) because you think it should happen, regardless of whether or not the majority of voters agree?

      • Colonial Viper 12.2.1

        Please no binding referenda until we get journalistic public broadcasting and an independent MSM sorted out.

        • burt 12.2.1.1

          Bang on CV. Not sure the answer lies with an independent MSM though, is there such a beast?

          I would say ‘Gov 2.0’ is better direction. But hey lets not pick Labour to run the sites.

          • wtl 12.2.1.1.1

            Well, I agree that the largest hurdle involving binding referenda is the need to ensure the public is properly informed about any such issue – you could have spelt this out earlier! 😉

            On the other hand, I don’t think the issue is all or nothing. On certain issues, such as the whether all the city councils in Auckland should be amalgamated, or whether or not the government should sell its SOEs, the decisions are not particularly complex (or emotional), and therefore I don’t think it is difficult for most voters to make sound and rational decision. Other issues, not so much.

            So perhaps a good start is to hold referenda on the easier issues, and in doing so learn how we can ensure that the process is carried out fairly for more difficult issues.

  13. BLiP 13

    Doesn’t stop Cunliffe borrowing against the assets, I suppose?

    • Lanthanide 13.1

      I’m not entirely sure what you mean by that.

      Broadly speaking, governments can borrow money from overseas based on the fact that they have state assets and can raise taxes. I’m sure if we didn’t have any assets at all, we wouldn’t be able to borrow as much.

      So in that regard, any amount of government borrowing (deficit spending) is borrowing against public assets.

      Are you suggesting that the government should be forced to balance all budgets going forwards with no regards to what the economy is actually doing at any point?

      • BLiP 13.1.1

        I’m suggesting that Cunliffe plans to mortgage the state assets rather than sell them.

  14. Bill 14

    If I own state enterprises, then give me a modest dividend based on a set %age of turnover or profit. Then I will have some tangible expression of ‘ownership’ and no private concern will ever get a foot in the door.

    I could be wrong, but I’ve some vague impression that Nokia is government owned (Finnish?) and tax payers are paid back some %age of their company’s success. In a NZ context, it could be argued that (more or less) 15% of what is paid will immediately default back to the government controlled public purse through GST. And the spending would also act as a predictable economic stimulus, no?

  15. Jum 15

    Maybe it’s time for the public to get involved in the saving of our SOE assets.

  16. Jum 16

    It’s a given that the 51% will never be enough for our agent the government to control the assets that belong to us. The TPPA will ensure that.

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