Make the TPP a Conscience Vote

Written By: - Date published: 6:29 pm, May 15th, 2016 - 84 comments
Categories: capitalism, colonialism, Economy, Environment, exports, Financial markets, International, overseas investment, Privatisation, sustainability, workers' rights - Tags: , , ,

Bryan Bruce, the award winning documentary maker, noted today on his Face Book page that Andrew Little had given permission to Phil Goff to cross the floor and vote with the Key government last week in support of the TPP.

Bruce asks a simple question: now that Little has accepted that voting on the TPP is a matter of conscience, will he advocate for that point in Parliament to give all MPs, including both National and Labour ones, that freedom.

what Little’s decision over Goff indicates that he has agreed that voting for or against the TPPA is a matter of principle – a matter of conscience.

Well, here’s two matters of principle I think that ALL MP’s should be given the freedom to decide upon.

The first is whether to vote for a treaty agreement which will allow overseas investors to sue our government in overseas tribunals which are not courts and have no process of appeal.

The second is whether to vote for an agreement that will deny many New Zealanders early access to new medicines and thereby cause extended suffering and unnecessary deaths.

(Depending on who you believe, patent protections will be extended 5, 6 or 8 years before cheaper generics and biosimilars can be sold and purchased.)

In my view if it is fine for Phil Goff to cross the floor on the TPPA it should be fine for all MP’s to do so from all parties.

In short, there is a strong argument to make voting for or against the TPPA a conscience vote.

But which of our MPs would be willing to promote such an argument in the House?
… oh…wait…How about it Andrew?
Is the TPPA a conscience issue or not?

84 comments on “Make the TPP a Conscience Vote”

  1. One Anonymous Bloke 1

    What “vote”? Parliament doesn’t get one – at least not one that counts for anything. Have you been listening to the lying Prime Minister?

    I note your well-rehearsed personal bile against the Labour Party makes you a poor advocate when it comes to expecting anything from them.

    We need better splitters.

    • Colonial Viper 1.1

      Hi OAB, you’re now banned from this post, thanks. Comments on this post which is about Bryan Bruce’s idea about making the TPP a conscience issue for MPs, remain welcome.

      • Johan 1.1.1

        Wow;-)))

      • Chooky 1.1.2

        have to agree CV…AOB often hits below the belt and does not address the topic but rather tries to put down the person with a personal attack …and this was totally unwarranted by him

        …”well-rehearsed personal bile” actually applies to his own modus operandi

        • Words 1.1.2.1

          I think that it also applies to a number of people , and wasn’t it a valid point that there is no parliamentary vote, and that John Key lied?

      • Enough is Enough 1.1.3

        Thanks for that ban CV – I couldn’t stand reading another one of OAB’s trolling rants.

  2. Joy FL 2

    Yeah, regardless of what the politicised polarising party in government has been doing, the democratic Labour Party should empower its caucus to exercise conscience votes. The bill is already going to be passed by the government with the support of an de-whipped Labour MP vote (thanks to Phil Goff’s), so why not release the other Labour caucus MPs to exercise each of their votes according to their good conscience!

    • Draco T Bastard 2.1

      After thinking about this, I agree. Then the Labour Party members can get rid of the deadwood (those who voted for the TPP) for the next election.

      • Chooky 2.1.1

        +100 DTB….however seems to be a bit of a cop out by a weak leadership ( David Cunliffe would have stood strong on being anti TPP)

        …the NZ Labour Party itself should be capable of taking a principled stand on the TPP

        …the USA corporate designed , self-serving TPP which is clearly NOT in the interests of New Zealand environmentally, democratically, NZ sovereignty, NZ long term economically or for NZ creatively and enterprise …MUST be OPPOSED by any principled political party

        …this is why I won’t be voting Labour…but will vote NZF and /or Green

        • Words 2.1.1.1

          David Cunliffe, although tried to make a stand against the TPPA, didn’t have control caucus, so couldn’t make a strong stance at all. Andrew Little publicly opposes the TPPA with a united caucus, even Shearer, who, in my opinion, should be in the National Party, is now toeing party lines. That shows a strong leadership on Little’s part, and giving Goff, who is going anyway, leave from party line, is more to do with Goff’s bid for the mayoralty than anything else.

  3. Joy FL 3

    Oops. Typo. Can’t edit

    • BM 3.1

      That’s a shame, your comment is now null and void.

      Better luck next time.

      • Joy FL 3.1.1

        Okieeees, for clarication and correction of typo as well as confirmation, here’s my comment again: Yeah, regardless of what the politicised polarising party in government has been doing, the democratic Labour Party should empower its caucus to exercise conscience votes. The bill is already going to be passed by the government with the support of a ‘de-whipped’ or ‘un-whipped’ (or whatever-the-term-might-be) Labour MP (thanks to Phil Goff), so why not release the other Labour caucus MPs to exercise each of their votes according to their good conscience as to how they reflect and consult with the electorate or people they represent!

        • Colonial Viper 3.1.1.1

          Releasing Labour MPs to a conscience vote would give us a clear indication of who still harbours neoliberal leanings in that caucus.

          • Chooky 3.1.1.1.1

            agreed…probably most of them…however NZers could vote accordingly for the Labour MPs who sell out to USA corporate interests and against New Zeasland’s interests

            • Words 3.1.1.1.1.1

              “” MPs who sell out to USA corporate interests and against New Zeasland’s interests””

              Isn’t that what John Key and his National government have done already?

          • billmurray 3.1.1.1.2

            Yes CV it expose’s the neo-libs but most importantly a free vote would get Little and Labour a chance to get off their present idiotic policy “we are against TPPA but if we get government benches ,we will stay in the TPPA”.
            A nation wide MMP electorate will not tolerate that sort of nonsense and Little and Labour need to ditch that statement as National will hang them for it in 2017.
            Yes a free vote would solve a few problems, a very good idea.

            • Words 3.1.1.1.2.1

              Would it really solve all the problems though? Key would never allow a conscious vote. How would you get out of the TPPA unscathed? What John Key has signed this country up to makes it hard for any future government, it is not just a matter of walking away, and I haven’t heard of any other opposition party saying they will leave it. The hope lies with one or more of the 6 countries, where ratification is crucial for the TPPA’s survival, to bin it. NZ doesn’t belong to that group of 6 countries that hold that power, but NZ is a cooked goose anyway if John Key gets his way with legislative changes. Even if the TPPA fails, foreign corporations etc will still be able to exploit NZ and its resources because John Key would have already changed our laws for them. Why do you think Key, who has the numbers, is so desperate to ram through these legislative changes?

  4. BM 4

    Andrew Little had given permission to Phil Goff to cross the floor and vote with the Key government last week in support of the TPP.
    Bruce asks a simple question: now that Little has accepted that voting on the TPP is a matter of conscience, will he advocate for that point in Parliament to give all MPs, including both National and Labour ones, that freedom.

    So why did Shearer vote against the TPP?, he’s on record for being all for it.

    Only reason I can think of that he voted no is because Little threatened him.

    • Colonial Viper 4.1

      I had thought that Shearer would stick to his guns and remain pro-TPP, so I have no idea on this.

      • BM 4.1.1

        Sorry modified my original comment.

        Little has no control over Goff, Goff has checked out, he’s in mayoral mode.

        Shearer still needs the MP salary, which is why he voted no.

        • Colonial Viper 4.1.1.1

          Well, that’s so very cynical of you BM 😛

        • b waghorn 4.1.1.2

          While we’re being cynical , is it likely Little released Goff to vote for the tpo so he could gaurentee it would pass while he gets to look tuff on the Shearer type in their ranks and anti tpp.

          • Joy FL 4.1.1.2.1

            Teehee!
            Little looked tough by selective release and whipping?
            Why not be consistent, fair and authentic by enabling the other 31 MPs vote according to their democratic and representative capacities

          • BM 4.1.1.2.2

            More to do with keeping on side with Goff.

            Mayor of Auckland has a lot of power, you want to have the mayor on your side.

            • Colonial Viper 4.1.1.2.2.1

              Also remember that Little needs a winnable seat before 2017.

              He’s running out of time to find one.

              He can’t go into 2017 standing and losing in New Plymouth again. Last time he lost by 10,000 votes.

              • Joy FL

                Anyone knows if Goff offered his safe seat to AL? If not, why not?
                If it can’t be done, why?
                If it couldn’t happen, why not?
                Anyone? (Not necessarily you, CV)

                • Colonial Viper

                  Michael Wood is getting Goff’s seat.

                  • billmurray

                    Yes CV, Michael Wood will stand in Goff’s seat, unless he is challenged and loses the nomination, but he is not liked as much as what he would have you believe. There is now a large migrant population in the Mount Roskill, many of those folk will be looking for something that gets the area away from Labour.
                    National will put in a strong candidate and spend money to defeat Labour.
                    I believe if Andrew Little carpet-bagged the nomination then he would get defeated. I also believe that he knows that and will not put up his hand.
                    Jacinda might!!!.

                    • Words

                      Colonial Viper is right, Goff’s seat is Michael Wood’s. Aren’t you getting ahead of yourself? How do you know he is not liked? I don’t think he will have trouble gaining votes from the immigrant population, they certainly kept Goff in his seat.

                    • Words

                      How do you know there are “” so much tension in the Labour party about list placing’s”” BillMurray?

                      Sorry, posted in wrong spot. Question is for comment below.

                • Anne

                  Annette King is standing as a list MP only next time- or so I believe. That would free up the seat of Rongotai for Little.

                  • Colonial Viper

                    King won’t give up her safe seat if Labour continues to poll in the 20s because of the heightened job insecurity involved with being list only.

                    • billmurray

                      CV if King ( as deputy leader ) was assured No2 spot on the list then she would concede the seat to Little but there is so much tension in the Labour party about list placing’s that such assurance is improbable.
                      There is urgency in getting these problems resolved though I cannot see much happening before Labours Centenary conference in late November.
                      I know that some MPs say that Little is number 1 on the list so let him stand again in New Plymouth and with his status as Party leader he would have a good chance of winning.
                      I have strong doubts that.

                    • Colonial Viper

                      Little ain’t overcoming a 10,000 vote National majority.

          • Bb8 4.1.1.2.3

            It would have passed anyway. Goff’s vote is immaterial and he’s on his way out. That’s why he was given a free pass.

        • Johan 4.1.1.3

          Why does a person who has difficulties putting two words together get so much oxygen;-)))??? I have voted and supported Labour all my working life, and would enjoy seeing a cleaning-out of Labour MP’s, who in particular do not hold true Labour Party values.

        • Richard McGrath 4.1.1.4

          Perhaps Shearer’s in the wrong party?

    • Words 4.2

      Shearer is stupid BM, and belongs in the National Party. He thought he could do what he did to David Cunliffe, but found himself standing alone with zero support.

    • Words 4.3

      BM, Shearer is stupid, and belongs in the National Party. He tried to do what he did to David Cunliffe, but found himself standing alone with zero support.

  5. Draco T Bastard 5

    The MPs shouldn’t be voting on their conscience at all ever. They need to be voting the way that the people they represent choose.

    That means that electorate MPs need to go to their electorate and ask via referendum. List MPs are a little more difficult but essentially need to vote how their parties decide to vote after asking their members.

    • Colonial Viper 5.1

      I take your point, DTB. MPs are supposed to represent us, not themselves.

      NZF has a history of wanting to take issues to the people via referenda but I reckon that Labour does not.

    • Hanswurst 5.2

      What would be the point in that? If you want direct democracy, put the actual issue to referendum. The idea of representative democracy is that you elect someone to examine the issues on your behalf full-time and trust them to consult as far as appropriate. I can see value in increased direct and participatory democracy, but I can’t see the value of having our representatives act as agents for direct democracy. It just seems superfluous.

      • Draco T Bastard 5.2.1

        I figure that we need people to write up the laws and to do the day to day managing of the state. This is the role of the MPs. But the actual deciding of policy should be left to the people.

        Of course a full national referendum on policy would be preferential to electorate referenda but I’m looking for a way to get there from here without crashing the entire political system. This would be such a step.

  6. GregJ 6

    Not a conscience issue but indicative of Labour’s wishy-washy, half-arsed, do we support it or not, dollar-both-way policy on TPP.

    Labour set 5(?) criteria for supporting the deal and it didn’t meet those so they should have shown some gumption, enforced discipline and required all MPs to vote against it stating clearly the deal is a poor one for the country. Goff is a member of the party – he doesn’t get a pass just because he started the negotiations off in the distant past (I’m sure the right is looking forward to his forthcoming mayoralty).

    Spineless, rudderless & incompetent politics by Labour – giving up a golden opportunity to hold the Government’s feet to the fire over something that many people dislike, are deeply suspicious off and/or are outright opposed to.

  7. Chuck 7

    Should a conscience vote apply to both a list MP and electorate MP?

    A list MP owes his/her position to the “party”…

    • Colonial Viper 7.1

      And that loyalty to the party’s hierarchy ahead of to ordinary voters (or even to ordinary party members) – is a major undemocratic problem.

      • cricklewood 7.1.1

        I would be in favour of having a ‘list’ selected automatically using a first loser type scenario.

        I haven’t quite figured out the nuts and bolts of it but it would work along the lines of the candidate that is the least number of percentage points below the winning candidate in their electorate takes the first available ‘list’ position allocated to that party due as per their party vote.

        This would require all MPs to at least stand for a seat and thus able to be held accountable for their vote by the constituents without upsetting the proportionality of parliament.

        • Cricklewood 7.1.1.1

          To add, I would exclude list position number one which would be held by the party leader.

          Also as a bonus it would also go someway towards removing the Epsom and Ohariu gerrymander. Be very hard to stand a patsy candidate without the ability to offer a safe list position in exchange.

          • Rae 7.1.1.1.1

            You’d remove that possibility by removing the coat tailing rule, one of the things the commission recommended after the “conversation” we have about MMP that the govt ignored, as it did not suit their agenda.
            I for one, will not forget that, ever

    • Rae 7.2

      That is actually a very good point, but having said that, if the issue at hand is one that is subject to a conscience vote, then the party does not have a particular view

  8. Tautoko Mangō Mata 8

    A conscience vote requires an MP to have a conscience, There are some MP’s who shouldn’t qualify for such a vote.

  9. Gabby 9

    If Labour intends to campaign on the basis of not giving a shit about TPPA, a conscience vote would be fine. Can’t imagine why Natianal would conform.

  10. Pat 10

    may not be a silly idea…assuming National agreed, which I don’t think they would.

    Any likely candidates from government side that may not support?

    • b waghorn 10.1

      Given that in 8 years not a single nat has ever rocked the boat over the many dodgy things that have gone on ,or stood up for the abuse of a young lady by the pm and the cover up of an attempted rape by a diplomat I doubt there would be a single one with the spine to go against keys wishes.

    • Joy FL 10.2

      Nats don’t have to give permission to Lab Party caucus to whip or not whip Lab Party’s own MPs

      • Pat 10.2.1

        no point , in my opinion for Labour to create a very public division in the party(I’m assuming there is a reasonable remnant of neolibs within) to no purpose….National have the numbers, esp. given Goff’s get out of jail free card …..but if National are confident its in the “best interests of the country” it would be interesting to see if any were prepared to vote against if given the freedom.

        Either way its going to pass.

        • Hanswurst 10.2.1.1

          I don’t see what good it is to have neolib MPs just sitting there pretending to represent the working class. We deserve to know exactly who they are and what they stand for. If that means a rift in the Labour Party, or its rapid spiral towards irrelevancy, then that’s the way the biscuit breaks.

          • Pat 10.2.1.1.1

            and i don’t see any purpose to shooting oneself in the foot….

            but lets explore your reason….who are the “working class”,in your opinion that Labour represent?

            • Hanswurst 10.2.1.1.1.1

              I didn’t say that they represent them.

              • Pat

                ‘I don’t see what good it is to have neolib MPs just sitting there pretending to represent the working class.”

                Ok , I can see there could be a semantic argument there….so you DON’T believe Labour’s role is to represent the working class?

                • Hanswurst

                  Eh? No, I’m proceeding from your idea that it is a good thing to have a bunch of neolibs pretending not to be neolibs, in order that they can be seen as a credible bunch to replace the other neolibs currently warming the government benches. I’m wondering what gains the working class are supposed to make from such a swap.

                  • Pat

                    back to the working class…..who are the working class that you think Labour should be representing?

                    • Hanswurst

                      Short answer would be people whose only work or work prospects are restricted to a small hourly wage, and who do not have other means (except benefits) of supplementing that income. A longer answer would be complex and take time. Firstly, however, this post is about the lines along which parliament should vote on the TPPA enabliing legislation. Secondly, your suggestion was that there were reasonable numbers of neolib MPs in Labour who would vote for it, but that this should be kept under wraps. My question concerned what purpose it would serve for neolibs to conceal their agenda while purporting to serve the working class (“Labour” = “work”; the clue’s in the name. What I “think” is irrelevant).

                      Now that I’ve provided an answer to your irrelevant counter-question, would you please answer my relevant question?

                    • Colonial Viper

                      The “working class” is anyone whose life would be totally fucked up if they lost their job and couldn’t get another one for 5 or 6 months.

                      Anyone who can go 5 or 6 months without their job, and not have to worry about changing their lifestyle or their outgoings in the least, is middle class*.

                      *Eg. freehold home and $200K in term deposits

                    • Pat

                      “Almost half of working New Zealanders would only last a month on their savings if they lost their job, a new survey shows.

                      More than a quarter say they will need to use their credit cards to pay bills in the coming quarter.

                      People in the 18 to 34 age bracket were particularly vulnerable, according to Dun and Bradstreet’s survey of consumer credit expectations released yesterday, with 55 per cent only able to survive for four weeks if they weren’t working.

                      This compares to 46 per cent for Kiwis aged 35 to 49 and 32 per cent of those aged 50 and over.”
                      http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10584518

                      “The working class (also labouring class and proletariat) is the people employed for wages, especially in manual-labour occupations and in skilled, industrial work. Working-class occupations include blue-collar jobs, some white-collar jobs, and most service-work jobs” ……wiki

                  • Pat

                    my suggestion was it should not cause an unnecessary public split….that there are neolibs within labour is hardly a secret.

                    The reason for my irrelevant question was to ascertain who you think Labour should represent…and you provided the anticipated answer.

                    Ask yourself this, how many wage workers are there in NZ? and how many of those are homeowners?and how many own investment property?

                    Labour cannot be a party solely for the “working class” and expect to achieve the level of support much greater than it currently attracts.
                    It needs to develop an alternative to the current neolib model and sell it as a better option for the great majority of Kiwis.
                    It is impossible to tinker at the edges of neoliberalism, as they currently propose and do any more than slow the inherent structural inequality gap and resulting societal collapse……and they need to do this with CC in the forefront of mind.
                    Outing a few neolibs within caucus will do nothing to achieve this and potentially hand the treasury benches again to a bunch of true believers who think/care not of the destination.

                    • Hanswurst

                      The reason for my irrelevant question was to ascertain who you think Labour should represent…and you provided the anticipated answer.

                      Mate, I have not said anything about whom I think Labour should represent, and that’s not relevant here. By calling themselves “Labour”, they are purporting to represent the working class, and riding on the historical baggage that that brings. I think they should be honest about what they do support, and have the electorate vote on that. Harbouring a neolib agenda while paying lip-service to other aims in opposition doesn’t help the Left at all. It just means we get a right-wing government called “Labour” once the electorate tires of National.

                    • Pat

                      “Mate, I have not said anything about whom I think Labour should represent, and that’s not relevant here. By calling themselves “Labour”, they are purporting to represent the working class,”

                      guess I misunderstood your previous series of posts then.

  11. Incognito 11

    Award-winning or not, it seems to me that Bryan Bruce has made an assumption and jumped to conclusions.

    The way I see it is that Goff got given special dispensation because of his career-long investment in free trade and his involvement in doing the groundwork for the TPPA. I don’t see it as a single-issue based on conscience alone.

    • Colonial Viper 11.1

      If that is so you must believe that the TPP is primarily:

      1) About free trade and not about entrenching corporate power over sovereign states, and
      2) That today’s TPP largely represents what Labour originally envisioned in the groundwork that Goff did for it.

      However, if the TPP is none of these things, then the rationale you set forward for Goff’s “special dispensation” is null and void.

      • Incognito 11.1.1

        Crikey dick! Your advanced logical reasoning is lost on me; I could try and pick a few holes in it but let me just say that it was my honest attempt to interpret Andrew Little’s rationale for his decision to allow Goff to cross the floor in this instance. Please direct your misgivings to AL.

        • Colonial Viper 11.1.1.1

          but let me just say that it was my honest attempt to interpret Andrew Little’s rationale for his decision

          And you accuse Bryan Bruce of jumping to unsupported interpretations.

  12. Tory 12

    The only beneficiary of a conscience vote would be Little, he has a caucus in which approx only 4 MP’s voted for him and it’s clear he is on borrowed time, a conscience vote gets him out of a hole in which he has rebellious MP”s. Goff crossing the floor is a victory for National and another nail in Littles coffin, Little needs to “get some guts” and move on allowing new talent such as Nash to be prompted.

    • left for dead 12.1

      You wont some guts Tory, well son where do you live, I’ll drop off a ton or two for you, where abouts, on the lawn, directly on the the ex’s car or is to be charity an in your neighbours garden.
      Abattoir Blues

      Nash has only the pimple on his grandfathers arse too compare himself with.

  13. Janet 13

    Despite the unpopularity and serious misgivings about the TPPA, Labour and Goff enabled the reading to go through. If ever there was a reason to stop voting Labour this is it.
    I will not only not vote for Goff in the Ak mayoral election, I will actively vote against him. On his past record, starting with his Housing Portfolio in the 80’s he has been a right winger de luxe. I wouldn’t trust him with the assets.

  14. Xanthe 14

    goff turned his back on his conscience a long time ago

  15. Smilin 15

    So now its ok to sellout your party as well as the nation to a debt building economic ideology run by idiots and warmongers and multinational corporations turning our country into a shit hole

    Is that the bullshit we worked all our lives for
    150 BILLION DOLLARS IN DEBT

  16. johnm 16

    The facts are clear the TPPA is an unconscionable Corporate take over against democracy.

    Kill TTIP Now

    Paul Craig Roberts

    In his May 9, 2016, speech to European medical professionals, Michael Hudson points out that the result of TTIP for Europe will be the privatization of health care systems with the associated much higher costs.

    Hudson’s accurate description of TTIP shows that politically powerful corporations have gained the power in Western “democracies” to sacrifice the welfare of all populations to corporate greed for profit regardless of the cost to peoples, countries, and societies.

    The evil of American “democratic capitalism” is total and irredeemable. TTIP gives corporations unaccountable power over governments and peoples. The corporations must be slapped down hard, fiercely regulated, and forced by threat of long prison sentences to serve the public interest, and not the incomes of the executives and shareholders who comprise the One Percent.

    Here is Hudson’s analysis:

    http://www.counterpunch.org/2016/05/11/the-dangers-of-free-trade-agreements-ttips-threat-to-europes-elderly/

    What goes for the transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership goes 100% for the TPPA.

    ” shareholders have the right to sue the directors of a public company if they believe the directors are not acting in their interests to maximize profits. ”
    In this instance the shareholders are the Corporations! Our so called democratic leaders are the directors who can be sued if profit is not maximised! But it is the public who pay up when these secret corporation courts rule against New Zealand!! This is just f*cking crazy! It’s madness, it’s a sell out!

  17. Tautoko Mangō Mata 17

    My wishful thinking: Phil Goff, having voted for the first reading of the TPP, will, look at the clauses, (and the fact the the US corporations are trying to strong-arm NZ to accept “fixes” -see https://wtonewsstand.com/topic/trans-pacific-partnership) and will
    have an epiphany and vote AGAINST the TPP omnibus bill.

  18. Penny Bright 18

    It appears that I am the only 2016 Auckland Mayoral candidate who has consistently and persistently actively opposed the signing and ratification of the TPPA.

    Time for an Auckland ‘Peoples’ Mayor’ who will defend the interests of the public 99% against the corrupt corporate 1%, locally, nationally and internationally?

    I think so.

    Penny Bright.
    Proven anti- corruption / anti-privatisation ‘Public Watchdog’.

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