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Sacrificing our Sovereignty in the name of Free Trade

Written By: - Date published: 1:24 pm, January 15th, 2015 - 30 comments
Categories: capitalism, john key, national - Tags:

It appears that like New Zealand the United Kingdom is also negotiating with the United States for improved trade access under the benign sounding Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership negotiations.  But they are facing the same issues that New Zealand is facing, including the suggested provision of investor-state dispute resolution procedures, where private corporations or individuals could seek compensation from a private arbitration panel if a State acting in the best interests of its citizens adversely affects their expectation of profit.

George Monbiot has written about the subject recently in that clear precise way that characterises his writing.  From the Guardian:

If a government proposes to abandon one of the fundamental principles of justice, there had better be a powerful reason. Equality before the law is not ditched lightly. Surely? Well, read this and judge for yourself. The UK government, like that of the US and 13 other EU members, wants to set up a separate judicial system, exclusively for the use of corporations. While the rest of us must take our chances in the courts, corporations across the EU and US will be allowed to sue governments before a tribunal of corporate lawyers. They will be able to challenge the laws they don’t like, and seek massive compensation if these are deemed to affect their “future anticipated profits”.

I’m talking about the proposed Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) and its provisions for “investor-state dispute settlement”. If this sounds incomprehensible, that’s mission accomplished: public understanding is lethal to this attempted corporate coup.

The TTIP is widely described as a trade agreement. But while in the past trade agreements sought to address protectionism, now they seek to address protection. In other words, once they promoted free trade by removing trade taxes (tariffs); now they promote the interests of transnational capital by downgrading the defence of human health, the natural world, labour rights, and the poor and vulnerable from predatory corporate practices.

This debate has also been occurring in New Zealand.  Why should we create the possibility that an arbitration panel beyond our control could order the payment of damages because corporate interests were affected by action taken in the public good?

Monbiot is deeply concerned at the potential effect the TTIP may have on UK’s democratic structures.

The proposed treaty has been described by the eminent professor of governance Colin Crouch as “post-democracy in its purest form”. Post-democracy refers to our neutron-bomb politics, in which the old structures, such as elections and parliaments, remain standing, but are uninhabited by political power. Power has shifted to other forums, unamenable to public challenge: “small, private circles where political elites do deals with corporate lobbies”.

Investor-state dispute settlement – ISDS – means allowing corporations to sue governments over laws that might affect their profits. The tobacco company Philip Morris is currently suing Australia and Uruguay, under similar treaties, for their attempts to discourage smoking. It describes the UK’s proposed rules on plain packaging as “unlawful”: if TTIP goes ahead, expect a challenge.

Corporations can use the courts to defend their interests. But under current treaties, ISDS lets them apply instead to offshore tribunals operating in secret, without such basic safeguards as judicial review and rights of appeal. As Crouch notes, this is not just post-democracy, but “post-law”.

He rightfully questions the need for a separate judicial system and wonders why the United Kingdom Courts are not able to handle any disputes.

There is only one possible justification for a separate judicial system: a failure by existing courts to fairly arbitrate businesses’ legal claims. So which judicial systems in the US or EU treat corporations unfairly?

I have asked this question (via Twitter) to the business secretary, Vince Cable; his deputy, Lord Livingston; and the Conservative leader in the European parliament, Syed Kamall. Resounding silence. I have asked it in this column, three times. Nothing. I have asked the business department by phone. After an attempt by its spokesman to suggest that there could be something wrong with the US system, and a subsequent failure to explain what this might be; he sent me this statement: “Investor protection is needed as domestic courts are not the typical route for investors to seek redress.” Not the typical route? That’s it?

It appears that John Key is relaxed at the potential of private arbitration making binding decisions affecting the New Zealand state.  He was questioned about this in Parliament by Metiria Turei two years ago and asked if New Zealand was opening itself up to litigation from firms based in the Trans-Pacific Partnership countries if it signed up to the investor-State dispute settlement procedures.  He responded:

… I do not think that is of concern because investor-State dispute settlement procedures allow a safeguard for New Zealand. New Zealand has already signed two free-trade agreements that include investor-State dispute settlement procedures. They were done under a Labour Government. They were the China free-trade agreement and the ASEAN-Australia-New Zealand Free Trade Agreement. They include the very safeguards that would protect New Zealand under those provisions. They also, I might add, protect New Zealand companies when they invest overseas. That is the very purpose of the investor-State dispute settlement procedure requirements.

Key’s response is similar to that adopted by UK Prime Minister David Cameron.  Again according to Monbiot:

At the G20 summit last year [Cameron] said: “We’ve signed trade deal after trade deal and there has never been a problem in the past.” It’s the dangerous driver’s defence: I’ve done 100mph loads of times, and I’m still alive, aren’t I?

Yes, we’ve been lucky so far; luckier than other nations in Europe, which so far have been sued 127 times under investor-state clauses in other treaties. The Czech Republic, Slovakia and Poland have had to pay out enough money to have employed 380,000 nurses for a year. Investor-state cases are escalating rapidly: as corporations begin to understand the power they’ve been granted, they will turn their attention from the weak nations to the strong ones.

No one will provide a justification because no one can. To protect transnational capital from a non-existent risk, our governments are recklessly abandoning the principle of equality before the law.

Monbiot urges a call to action through petitions, protests and believes that at least in the UK they can win the argument.  I will leave the final words to him.

In an age of ecocide, food banks and financial collapse, do we need more protection from predatory corporate practices, or less? This is a reckless, unjustified destruction of our rights. We can defeat it.

30 comments on “Sacrificing our Sovereignty in the name of Free Trade”

  1. CJess 1

    There is a bigger democratic deficit issue in the TTIP in that it is not being negotiated by the Governments of the EU, but by the EU Commission on behalf of the Member States. This is particularly concerning in the UK for those who would like to see the National Health Service protected from (further) privitisation and corporate control. While the UK government has the right to contribute to the negotiating stances generally, it’s not clear how much impact each individual MS can have on the final negotiating stance. Cameron’s Government has (obviously) also refused to carve out the NHS from the negotiations, in the same way as the French have carved out their film industry from it.

    The Commission has, however, published some information on the negotiating stances it is taking with the USA, which is a step towards transparency which Key seems unlikely to follow. See – http://trade.ec.europa.eu/doclib/press/index.cfm?id=1230

    • Colonial Rawshark 1.1

      bigger democratic deficit issue in the TTIP in that it is not being negotiated by the Governments of the EU, but by the EU Commission on behalf of the Member States

      Good point. A smaller number of officials to sway, arm twist and if necessary, pay off.

  2. The Green party opposed the Chinese FTA citing investor-State dispute settlement procedures as one of the reasons.

    Had a search but seem unable to find the minority report Keith Locke submitted.

    • aerobubble 3.1

      So a company win some huge compensation from the govt, and consumers hearing that the Nats have rigged the system for big corp… …those corps take a consumer backlash, along with politicians who dont dump the trade agreements…

      Look I agree, its not a free market when risks are managed, since the
      whole point of an invisible hand is it surprises us. A state controlled market
      did not work, so why would a privately controlled one. Without nation states
      interceeding and directing activity there can be no free market or even freedom.

      Anyway whats to stop Greenpeace becoming incorporated, and its members demanding standing with respect to loses. My council ould sue for river
      pollution and does, so why cant Greenpeace sue the Japanese govt.
      Why cant unions sue foreign govts for unsafe work practices in Chinese
      competition companies…

      So yeah its important theres appeals, there are open transparency, and we can all form corps and sue all large global companies.

      • Naturesong 3.1.1

        First, what on earth has TPPA or any FTA for that matter got to with that mythical unicorn “free market”.
        A market by definition is bound by the rules and norms of that market, whether it be drugs, sex, people or a house.

        Removing constraints to markets, alter their function in very predictable ways (and create the potential for those markets to fail in predictable ways).

        Second:
        Sophistry: the use of clever but false arguments, especially with the intention of deceiving.

        “Anyway what’s to stop Greenpeace becoming incorporated, and its members demanding standing with respect to loses”
        – Please explain how this would work to prevent sovereign counties from polluting their waters and lands to the detriment and cost of its citizens and neighbours?

        “We can all form corps and sue all large corporations”
        – No, you need time, expertise and shit load of money.

        We already see our Government scared to legislate against tobacco packaging citing Australias current dispute. How does Greenpeace, or any citizen counter that?

        • aerobubble 3.1.1.1

          Risks cannot be managed, as neoliberals contend. Its god of the gaps stuff.
          There will always be needed outside intervention, aka us constitutional cry
          for revolution should the state become unworthy. All systems grind to
          a halt, Thatcherism began that malaise and delivered us 2008.

          If the question is how are companies to get redress when existing courts take too long, haven’t the expertize, and governments won’t be morally, ethically or fiscally bankrupt then sure. But the fact that the trade court has come out of
          a hidden process, involving the US, where lobbiests rule congress, does make the
          whole system suspect.

          Though i return to my point a unconsciable system would be easily removed,
          as legally speaking it would not merit authenticity. Certainly a global corporate
          that sues a government and has the effect of allowing pollution of world
          citizens, with deletrious effects, is a PR disaster worthy to serious question
          wtf KEy is up to.

          But the point is there will be political interferance in nation courts and so
          some process will be required So it behoves you to provide that alternative,
          speak to why these trade courts are needed and how safeguards can be attached added at futire date, since they obviously as all new systems bed in.

          So ant trade court system strapped to trade agreements that does not
          allow for appeals, reworking in light of obvious mistaken judgments.
          i.e pollution of citizens by mega corps who can hold govts hostage
          via these new courts.

        • Colonial Rawshark 3.1.1.2

          Removing constraints to markets, alter their function in very predictable ways (and create the potential for those markets to fail in predictable ways).

          I think you are being way to generous here.

          Take lowering the drinking age to 18.

          Our MPs were convinced that was going to help resolve underage and youth drinking in this country.

          Nek minnit…

      • Tracey 3.1.2

        because they cost of suing is something that fortune 500 companies can manage not charities and unions.

        • aerobubble 3.1.2.1

          I disagree. A billion shareholder company, each shareholder with a dollar to spare, and intelligent selection of stances taken to court on percieved future loses would be lovely.

          • Naturesong 3.1.2.1.1

            Got any anecdata. Anything at all?

            Perhaps a study?
            No?

            A Masters or Phd thesis?
            The unlikelihood of the scenario you describe would surely have masters and Phd students lining up to choose that subject as their thesis.

            No, nothing?

            Really?
            I thought there would be dozens of examples given that these courts have been running for a while – NAFTA was signed 2 decades ago.

            I suspect* if I hold my breathe, I’ll turn blue and fall over.

            * Actually, I’m certain, unless your better at searching the web than me.

            • aerobubble 3.1.2.1.1.1

              If you have money you can buy a company with standing, and crowd sourcing has just appeared, so who knows, maybe a crowd source will buy into a water provider down stream of a s.america polluter… and sue the govt for not enforcing basic env protections.

              • Ahh, so your solution is that communities have to crowdsource and buy up all the means of production?

                At which point they can sue their own government to force them to act as a sovereign entity?

                But only in that particular instance. And only if it has caused a business harm that can be easily costed?

                You’ve clearly thought this through.

      • Murray Rawshark 3.1.3

        Suing only works when it can be enforced by force. Funnily enough, the two words may even have a common root. Not even Sea Shepherd, with all its militancy, could sue a country and get something. You must be on Planet FJK, Aerobubble.

        • aerobubble 3.1.3.1

          Sorry, last time I looked our army was made up of citizens like you and me.
          And I find the notion that is regardly peddled by neolibs are based on how
          we as citizens do not give up, or have any, percieved future loses when it
          will be us and our children who will be called up to fight and lose life.

          Percieved future loses is not just a open cheque book for big corp, its
          a call that we all have potential future loses that matter.

  3. Tracey 4

    Jane Kelsey wrote this in reply to a question I asked her a few months ago

    Q.. how many of them (FTA) contain provisions for foreign corps to sue nz govt, councils for decisions they contend impact their profits?

    A. “All of them except the investment protocol to the CER agreement with Australia and the P4 (NZ, Chile, Singapore and Brunei) have a version of investor-state enforcement. There is also a bilateral investment treaty with Hong Kong and an (arguably) superseded one with China.

    The TPPA is of greater concern because (a) the US is a party and they are second to the EU in the most frequent users of this process and (b) the scope of the obligations in the TPPA will be much broader than in previous FTAs.

    Now, Mr Mapp frequently rolls out the old chestnut that Kelsey never supported a single FTA and somehow this diminishes her credibility. Apart from the corollary which is he never opposed a single FTA therefore has diminished credibility (which gets us nowhere but doesnt stop him stating it as though it does mean something), she gives very coherent reasons for her disagreement with it. Dr Mapp says he has never seen the agreement but is happy to agree to it. Happy to subject us to being sued by corporations and those disputes being determined by a small group of arbitrators, not appointed by governments or by a process but appointed privately and almost all, if not all, to be international lawyers with particular interest in corporate interests.

    Here is what Kelsey says about FTA and the TPPA and her motivation as told to the Sunday Star Times

    ” It is these regulatory provisions which concern Kelsey.

    “I’m not interested in trade agreements, certainly not in the old-fashioned commodity part of them,” she says.

    Her concern is that international trade deals include clauses that affect how governments can regulate their countries’ affairs, particularly because she sees them as entrenching right-wing economic policy.

    Her views were sparked in 1990 when she went to a meeting in Brussels while the city was hosting ministerial talks for a World Trade Organisation agreement known as the Uruguay Round.
    concern is that international trade deals include clauses that affect how governments can regulate their countries’ affairs, particularly because she sees them as entrenching right-wing economic policy.

    Her views were sparked in 1990 when she went to a meeting in Brussels while the city was hosting ministerial talks for a World Trade Organisation agreement known as the Uruguay Round.

    “I saw that there was this agreement on services, and I looked at what was happening at home with the battles we were having around corporatisation . . . and I said ‘this is the embedding mechanism for what’s happening at home. This is going to make it really hard to reverse, and it’s going to make it formalised’.”

    Since then Kelsey has argued and lobbied and published books about the fish hooks in every trade deal.

    “Every select committee submission I make says ‘you’re looking only at the trade parts, you need to understand the regulatory frameworks’. When they become enforceable not only by other states but by foreign investors you have big issues.

    “So for me the TPPA is the granddaddy of all of those agreements.””

    Also of interest, to those who care about open debate and freedom of speech is the revelation that Kelsey has been spied on, seemingly because f her opposition, on strong legal basis, to the regulatory aspects of FTA and the TPPA. Dr Mapp, Law Commissioner ought to have been an outspoken critic of that, a fellow lawyer, academic, and believer int he law… but he wasn’t. He isn’t.

    http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/education/2736200/Concern-over-SIS-spying-on-academics

    Kelsey writes in more detail about her experiences trying to get her file from the SIS here

    http://www.converge.org.nz/watchdog/22/07.htm
    (this one is a very good read for those interested in freedom of speech, academics, spying etc)

  4. Chch_Chiquita 5

    Is there anything that our PM think IS a concern?
    There is nothing free about this TPPA and nothing to gain, only a lot to lose. That our PM think there is no concern about an agreement that is not only negotiated secretly but its details will remain secretive for years after it is signed and obligating is simply mind blowing.

    In the US, Senator Sanders is demanding to see the negotiation documents, and if turned down, to know the legal basis for the denial – http://www.sanders.senate.gov/newsroom/recent-business/sanders-seeks-trade-deal-details

    • Tracey 5.1

      They keep diverting attention from what is really the downside like a magician using slight of hand. They say trade is good, trade will benefit, why hate against trade when the main objection is that

      and dispute will not be heard by an international court, by people appointed by agreement from governments but will be referred to a private arbitration service, which chooses its own decision-makers and appoints international lawyers friendly to corporations. This is the elephant in the room. And we are seeing examples of it from EU, US and Canadian companies holding governments to ransom. Australia is being sued for deciding as a health and political issue that branding of cigarettes is not acceptable…

      The following link discusses the dispute resolution “process” simply

      http://triplecrisis.com/tppa-when-foreign-investors-sue-the-state/

      • Chch_Chiquita 5.1.1

        Well, trade is good. But what are we trading here? Is there anything we are not trading already? I know, we MIGHT be trading dairy. That might is so tiny it is almost a fiction of the imagination.

    • Draco T Bastard 5.2

      Is there anything that our PM think IS a concern?

      He does seem to be concerned about the people actually having a say in the running of our country.

  5. coaster 6

    Would we have able to put any legislation inplace, or future rules regarding the sale of legal highs?. Putting additional taxes on petrol reduces amount of petrol sold, so the oil companys could take legal action. Oil companys could sue over any changes to carbon emmissions in cars.

    surely a government could opt out of one these trade deals at any time?

  6. Paul 7

    ‘surely a government could opt out of one these trade deals at any time?’

    These are meant to be binding.
    It’s a trap.

  7. Jan Rivers 8

    Interestingly people in the EU have had two oppotunities to provide input into the process and 150000 did whereas the only NZ Consultation took place when the Tppa was just 4 countries back in 2007 or 8. The latest EU consultation is described here. http://www.martinmep.com/ttipisds I have hard Tim Groser say on a number of occasions that thon tonere has been widespread consultation n. Perhaps he means that there have been non-public opportunities for NZ corporates to contribute to shaping the text. Otherwise his commemts are somewhat mysterious..

  8. saveNZ 9

    If we or the UK sign any of these ‘trade deals’ we’re fucked.

    Instead of governments running the countries, we will have corporations running them by proxy.

    Instead of democracy we will have kangaroo courts whereby the whole meaning of human existance is measured in exploitation.

  9. Andrew Welsh 10

    Monbiot is more left than most who write opinion pieces on this site, so of course his view is used to support MS’ s view. Fair enough, but the debate needs views from across the political spectrum so the debate should includes the views of Obama who supports the TPP. Of course Obama has faded from the lefts Christmas card list hasn’t he….

    • Colonial Rawshark 10.1

      Andrew Welsh, the corporate lobbyists who have access to the TPP documents, while us citizens are denied them, are most welcome to make their case here at The Standard.

      However, the canard you raise about this being about the “political spectrum” is of course full of shit in that the TPP is primarily about strengthening corporate power and corporate profits.

      You can only regard the TPP as being about politics in so far as a kind of politics which no longer represents the interests of the citizens, but instead represents the interests of trans-national capital.

  10. A Voter 11

    Maybe Sir JESUS Jerry can strap on his six guns and win our country back like Tama tried to tell the country it needed to do but got raided
    TPPA is bend over and take it u insignificant little island in the south pacific
    were still here and we are still the the boss signed the US govt
    This is not the freedom that Nzers fought for in the past
    Sticking our nose into the middle east now south east asia in the past all for a bullshit idea of what democracy is
    People who fight now believe they are right in WW2 it was obvious why there was a need to fight
    let the middle east sort out its own shit the less notice we take of Israel the fuckin better and have a look at the real problem in OIL and who owns what Dick Cheney’s head should be on a spike in Baghdad
    Fuck the US foreign policy we want our country back no more fast food international Wall st crime we arent here to balance their books
    And sorry Phil and Betty its all over we just cant afford you anymore

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    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    3 days ago
  • A new Ministry of Works
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    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    4 days ago
  • Capture: Well spaced out
    It's my distraction,  setting up tiny scenes to photograph.  I've got stuck on the Babushka dolls for now.  Something about their bubble shape.  Something about their never changing, smiling features, suggesting persistent equanimity.  Can we get through everything that is being thrown at us and keep at least a tiny ...
    4 days ago
  • Life in Lock Down: Day 6
    . . March 31: Day six of living in lock-down… This time I managed to sleep a little longer and the alarm woke me at the pre-set time: 6.55am. Then remembered I was working a later shift and could’ve slept in. Oh well, there are things to do at home. ...
    Frankly SpeakingBy Frank Macskasy
    4 days ago
  • March ’20 – NZ blogs sitemeter ranking
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    4 days ago
  • Hard News: Poll Pot and the partisans
    Yesterday's Horizon poll showing support for a "Yes" vote in this year's cannabis referendum sliding into the majority for the first time in a year looked like good news for reformers – and it probably is. But the result warrants some scrutiny.The poll is the fifth in a series commissioned ...
    4 days ago
  • Why those bubbles are so important
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    SciBlogsBy Siouxsie Wiles
    4 days ago
  • A Government System That Works
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    Bryan GouldBy Bryan Gould
    4 days ago
  • Smashing down the barriers: Where are we at with COVID vaccines?
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    SciBlogsBy Helen Petousis Harris
    4 days ago
  • National Network on Cuba (USA): “Cuban medical solidarity is a pillar of its society and is founde...
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    RedlineBy Admin
    4 days ago
  • Alarming decrease in calves increases fears for endangered Hector’s dolphin
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    SciBlogsBy Otago Marine Science
    4 days ago
  • Time for Grant Robertson to reveal package #2?
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    PunditBy Tim Watkin
    4 days ago
  • Saving lives
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    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    5 days ago
  • Life in Lock Down: Day 5
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    Frankly SpeakingBy Frank Macskasy
    5 days ago
  • Speaker: Les Gray: the man who told the truth
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    5 days ago
  • Why now? Historical specificity and the perfect storm that has created trans identity politics
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    5 days ago
  • Time for a living wage for supermarket workers
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    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    5 days ago
  • Hard News: MUSIC: Lockdown Grooves
    Kia ora! As I've watched nearly all my remaining work vanish over the past couple of days, it has occured to me that one good way to keep me away from arguing with fools on Twitter all the time (in the knowledge that all we're really doing is processing our ...
    5 days ago
  • A place of greater safety?
    Aotearoa New Zealand has committed to trying to extirpate the virus that causes COVID-19 from its shores. To do that, as a society we’ve moved to “Level 4”. That means adapting to unprecedented restrictions on our personal freedoms, particularly to our rights to move freely and associate with friends and ...
    PunditBy Andrew Geddis
    6 days ago
  • The police and public trust
    When the Prime Minister declared a state of emergency last week, she handed the police powers to enforce it. And almost immediately, we started hearing about heavy-handed, arbitrary "enforcement" by police who (at best) cared more about order than law, or (more likely) had no idea what the rules were ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    6 days ago
  • Life in Lock Down: Day 4
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    Frankly SpeakingBy Frank Macskasy
    6 days ago
  • COVID-19 vs New Zealand
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    6 days ago
  • 2020 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming Digest #13
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    6 days ago
  • Rāhui day 4
    The kids did surprisingly well today – meltdown count was about 3, and mostly fairly short ones. (And a fourth while I was writing.) Game-wise I had a go at Fell Seal: Arbiter’s Mark. It’s a fairly standard RPG with turn-based combat and what they call a “mature storyline” (it ...
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    6 days ago
  • Letter to a friend
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    RedlineBy Daphna
    6 days ago
  • Life in Lock Down: Day 3
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    Frankly SpeakingBy Frank Macskasy
    7 days ago
  • 2020 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming News Roundup #13
    A chronological listing of news articles linked to on the Skeptical Science Facebook Page during the past week, i.e., Sun, Mar 22, 2020 through Sat, Mar 28, 2020 Articles Linked to on Facebook Sun, Mar 22, 2020 In Just 10 Years, Warming Has Increased the Odds of Disasters by Chelsea Harvey, ...
    7 days ago
  • Rāhui day 3
    I’m here in lockdown with my flatmate and her two girls (6 and 2) and it. is. a time. They’re usually really active so to start with the only boardgame in the house is the copy of Guess Who that the 6 year old got for her birthday. Flatmate commented ...
    The little pakehaBy chrismiller
    1 week ago
  • A test of civil society.
    The CV-19 (COVID) pandemic has seen the imposition of a government ordered national quarantine and the promulgation of a series of measures designed to spread the burden of pain and soften the economic blow on the most strategically important and most vulnerable sectors of society. The national narrative is framed ...
    KiwipoliticoBy Pablo
    1 week ago
  • Life in Lock Down: Day 2
    . . Lock Down: Day 2 – A photo essay with observations . March 27 – Day 2 of our Strange New World. The Park and Ride near my suburb, usually filled with hundreds of vehicles, had just… four; . . Another drive into Wellington City on a highway nearly ...
    Frankly SpeakingBy Frank Macskasy
    1 week ago
  • How Do You Feel? What Do You Think?
    Fortune's Children: Under extraordinary pressure, the leader of the Government and the leader of the Opposition will each show us what they are made of. Have they been blessed with intelligence, grace, wit, poise, toughness, empathy and humour – and in what measure? More importantly, to what extent have they ...
    1 week ago
  • Landlords are NOT an essential service
    If you’ve ever had the misfortune of having to rent a property on the open market in New Zealand, which is one of the most expensive in the entire world, you’ll likely be keenly aware of just how arrogant and entitled landlords and their real estate agents can be.Unfortunately for ...
    1 week ago
  • A “new Society” post-COVID19 will definitely emerge. The question is: on what path?
    Society-wise, aside from the specific morbidity shall we say of the medically-oriented aspects of this COVID-19 crisis, what is unfolding before the world is in more than one way an instructive study of humanity and reactions to a high intensity, high stress environment in real time. Friends, we are at ...
    exhALANtBy exhalantblog
    1 week ago
  • Raise the Bar: Everything you need to know about the wage subsidy
    Right now low waged and insecure workers are feeling the economic brunt of the looming #Covid19 Recession. In response legal advocate Toby Cooper* and hospitality and worker’s rights advocate Chloe Ann-King, are putting together a series of legal blogs about your employment rights: In this legal blog we outline some ...
    PosseBy chloeanneking
    1 week ago
  • The massacre of prisoners in Modelo jail, Bogota, March 21
    by Equipo Jurídico Pueblos and Gearóid Ó Loingsigh (25/03/2020) An escape plan in question On the night of March 21st and the early morning of the 22nd, the forces of the Colombian state stormed into the Modelo prison in Bogotá, murdering 23 prisoners and injuring 83, in response to the ...
    RedlineBy Admin
    1 week ago
  • We are not America
    When the government banned semi-automatic weapons in response to a terrorist atrocity, gun-nuts were outraged. Mired in toxic American gun culture, they thought owning weapons whose sole purpose was killing people was some sort of "constitutional right", a necessity for "defending themselves" against the government. Now, the Court of Appeal ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • When will we know the lockdown is working?
    Just before midnight on Wednesday March 25, Aotearoa New Zealand entered a countrywide alert level four lockdown. For at least the next four weeks, everyone who isn’t an essential worker is confined to their bubble. We are doing this to stop the explosive growth in people contracting and dying from ...
    SciBlogsBy Siouxsie Wiles
    1 week ago
  • Lock Down: Day 1
    . . Lock Down: Day 1 – A photo essay with observations . Day one of the Level 4 nationwide lock-down (or, DefCon 4 as I sometimes cheekily call it) started at 11.59PM on 25 March. For a moment, most of the nation held it’s collective breath. In that brief ...
    Frankly SpeakingBy Frank Macskasy
    1 week ago
  • A Compelling Recollection.
    Broad, Sunlit Uplands: How those words fired my young imagination! Or, perhaps, it is more accurate to say: how those words fused, in my young mind, with the image printed on every packet of Fielder’s Cornflour. Always fascinated by history, especially modern history, I cannot hear Churchill’s wonderfully evocative words, even ...
    1 week ago
  • The Warehouse – where everyone gets a virus
    . . 24 March 2020 9.46AM Number of covid19 cases in Aotearoa New Zealand: 102 . As of 11.59 on Thursday, most of New Zealand will go into “lock down”. People will be expected not to travel to work; not to socialise; and to stay home. I will not be ...
    Frankly SpeakingBy Frank Macskasy
    1 week ago
  • Aggressive action to address climate change could save the world $145 trillion
    This is a re-post from Yale Climate Connections A respected research group, Project Drawdown, finds that deploying solutions consistent with meeting the Paris climate targets would cost tens of trillions of dollars globally. But crucially, those outlays would also yield long-term savings many times larger than the up-front costs. The new 2020 Drawdown ...
    1 week ago
  • After the Pandemic
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    SciBlogsBy Robert Hickson
    1 week ago
  • Coronavirus – Cuba shows the way
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    RedlineBy Admin
    1 week ago
  • Using privacy law to prevent the death penalty
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    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • It’s Time For Disaster Socialism.
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    1 week ago
  • Skeptical Science New Research for Week #12, 2020
    Tamper with The System? Well, we already are. But there's a difference between accidentally trickling sand into a precision gearbox versus formulating a plan to alter it on the fly with improvements in mind. One action is more or less innocently unscrupulous, the other amenable to earning an easy ...
    1 week ago
  • Avoidable hospitalisations: Helping our health system get through COVID-19
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    1 week ago
  • Raise the Bar: 10 questions to ask your employer proposing redundancy
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    PosseBy chloeanneking
    2 weeks ago

  • Further measures to support businesses
    The Government will be introducing legislation to make changes to the Companies Act to help companies facing insolvency due to COVID-19 to remain viable and keep New Zealanders in jobs. The temporary changes include: Giving directors of companies facing significant liquidity problems because of COVID-19 a ‘safe harbour’ from insolvency ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 day ago
  • Govt’s COVID plan, economic strength recognised
    The Government’s plan to cushion the blow of COVID-19 by supporting incomes, jobs and businesses, and position the economy to recover has been backed by another international report. International credit rating agency Moody’s today reaffirmed its highest Aaa credit rating on New Zealand, saying the economy is expected to remain ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • Funding certainty for sports through COVID-19
    National sports organisations have been given certainty of funding to ensure they can remain viable through the COVID-19 pandemic, Sport and Recreation Minister Grant Robertson announced today. “The global spread of COVID-19 has had a significant impact on sport and recreation in New Zealand, including the cancellation or postponement of ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • Butchers now allowed to process pork
    Changes have been made to allow butchers to process pork, only for supply to supermarkets or other processors or retailers that are open, Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor has announced. “We carefully weighed the risk of allowing butchers to open their shops for retail customers, but the risk of spreading COVID-19 ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • Essential workers leave scheme established
    Essential workers who take leave from work to comply with public health guidance are being supported with a leave scheme to ensure they will continue to receive income, say the Minister of Workplace Relations and Safety Iain Lees-Galloway and Minister for Social Development, Carmel Sepuloni. A number of essential businesses ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • Govt WhatsApp helps share COVID-19 information
    A Government WhatsApp channel has been launched to help make information more easily accessible and shareable in the fight against COVID-19. Govt.NZ, which is free to use on any mobile device, will carry information and news for the public, businesses, healthcare providers, not for profits and local government. It can ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • Managed departure plan for stranded foreign nationals enables safe, orderly exit
    The Government has announced a plan to enable the safe, orderly exit of tens of thousands of stranded foreign nationals from New Zealand during the current COVID-19 Alert Level 4 restrictions, Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Winston Peters has said. “When we moved into lockdown a week ago, the ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • Government delivers COVID-19 support to GPs and Pharmacies
    Health Minister Dr David Clark says the Government is delivering on its commitment to support general practice doctors and nurses, and pharmacies on the front-line of our fight against COVID-19. "For us to overcome COVID-19, we need community health services such as general practice and community pharmacy to step up ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • Susan Thomas the new Chief High Court Judge
    Justice Susan Thomas has been appointed Chief High Court Judge, Attorney-General David Parker announced today.  She replaces Justice Geoffrey Venning who has resigned from the position.   David Parker paid tribute to Justice Venning, who he said had stewarded the High Court very capably over the last five years.   “On behalf ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 days ago
  • Business Finance Guarantee – applications open
    Businesses can start applying to their banks for loans under the Business Finance Guarantee Scheme set up to support the New Zealand economy during the COVID-19 pandemic. “We’re moving quickly to protect New Zealand businesses, jobs and the economy during this unprecedented global economic shock,” Finance Minister Grant Robertson said. ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 days ago
  • Work starts on ways to fast-track consents to boost recovery from Covid-19 downturn
    Work is underway looking at measures to speed up consents for development and infrastructure projects during the recovery from COVID 19, to provide jobs and stimulate our economy.  Environment Minister David Parker said the COVID-19 pandemic is a serious global crisis that will have a wide ranging and lasting impact ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 days ago
  • Advance payments to support contractors
    Advance payments will be made to transport construction industry contractors to retain the workforce and ensure it is ready to quickly gear up to build projects which will be vital to New Zealand’s COVID-19 economic recovery, Transport Minister Phil Twyford announced today. He said keeping the workforce required to build ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • Government seeks infrastructure projects
    The Government has tasked a group of industry leaders to seek out infrastructure projects that are ready to start as soon as the construction industry returns to normal to reduce the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, Economic Development Minister Phil Twyford and Infrastructure Minister Shane Jones say. The Infrastructure ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • Health system scaled up to prepare for COVID-19
    Work to scale up the health system in preparation for COVID-19 was today outlined by Health Minister David Clark, as he reported back to the new Epidemic Response Committee. “We are well placed to contain the spread of COVID-19. We have taken early and decisive action at our borders, and ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • Essential media COVID-19 guidelines refined
    The Government is refining its COVID-19 essential business guidance to include the distribution of news publications for communities which are hard to reach. The Minister of Broadcasting, Communications and Digital Media, Kris Faafoi, said the move was in recognition of the importance for New Zealanders who might be harder to ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • Supermarkets able to open on Easter Sunday
    The Government is ensuring supermarkets can open on Easter Sunday so we can buy groceries, but stay closed on Good Friday allowing workers to take a break. This provides a balanced approach and ensures we avoid large queues that two days closure may cause. “Supermarkets will be able to open ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • New Zealand defence personnel conclude mission at Taji
    Following the successful conclusion of the Building Partner Capacity (BPC) mission at Taji, New Zealand defence personnel are returning to New Zealand from Iraq, in accordance with the Cabinet decision made in June 2019, Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters and Defence Minister Ron Mark announced today. “New Zealand is very ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • State of National Emergency extended
    The State of National Emergency to help stop the spread of COVID-19 has been extended for a further seven days, Minister of Civil Defence Peeni Henare said. The initial declaration on March 25 lasted seven days and can be extended as many times as necessary. “Since we went into isolation ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • Strong Govt books support ‘go hard, go early’ response
    New Zealand’s ability to go hard and go early in the fight against COVID-19 has been underpinned by strong Government finances and the growing economy heading into this global pandemic, Finance Minister Grant Robertson says. The Treasury today released the Crown financial statements for the eight months to the end ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • Christchurch Hospital Hagley ICU to open to support COVID-19 response
    Health Minister Dr David Clark says 36 new intensive care beds at Christchurch Hospital’s new Hagley building are being fast tracked so they are available for treatment of COVID-19 patients.   The Ministry of Health is working with contractor CPB and Canterbury DHB to enable access to the hospital’s ICU, ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • Government supports Air NZ freight flights
    The Government has fast-tracked up to $1 million to help Air New Zealand move urgent freight to and from New Zealand, with the first flight to Shanghai leaving tonight, Transport Minister Phil Twyford announced today. Phil Twyford says it’s crucial that trade in vital goods such as medical supplies and ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • Tariff concessions on COVID-19 related products
    New Zealand will temporarily remove tariffs on all medical and hygiene imports needed for the COVID-19 response. Trade and Export Growth Minister David Parker and Commerce and Consumer Affairs Minister Kris Faafoi said today that the New Zealand Customs Service will apply tariff concessions to all diagnostic reagents and testing ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Clarification of modification to wage subsidy scheme
    Minister of Finance Grant Robertson has clarified that the changes to the wage subsidy scheme announced yesterday mean that employers should be passing on the full subsidy to workers, except in the case where the person’s normal income is less than the level of the subsidy. “We still want employers ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Face masks flowing to DHBs
    Medical face masks from the national reserve supply are now being distributed to District Health Boards, while at the same time local production is being ramped up. Yesterday more than 640,000 masks were sent to DHBS – that is an immediate two week supply, with more to follow in coming ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • COVID-19: Further steps to protect New Zealanders’ jobs
    The Government has made modifications to the wage subsidy scheme to ensure people don’t lose their jobs during the national lockdown. These changes will soften the impact of COVID-19 on workers, families and businesses, and position them to exit the lockdown and look to recovery, Finance Minister Grant Robertson says. ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Tax relief for Mycoplasma Bovis farmers
    Farmers whose herds were culled in response to the outbreak of Mycoplasma bovis will be able to minimise the tax treatment of their income in some circumstances. Revenue Minister Stuart Nash says Cabinet has agreed to change the law. It means farmers may be eligible to spread their income over ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • $27 million for NGOs and community groups to continue providing essential services
    A $27 million dollar package, effective immediately, is being provided to social sector services and community groups to ensure they can continue to provide essential support to communities as we stay at home as a nation to stop the spread of COVID-19, Minister for Social Development Carmel Sepuloni announced. “At ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Statement on guilty plea of March 15 terrorist
    “The guilty plea today will provide some relief to the many people whose lives were shattered by what happened on March 15,” Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said. “These guilty pleas and conviction bring accountability for what happened and also save the families who lost loved ones, those who were injured, ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • COVID-19 updates
    The Prime Minister is holding daily press conferences to update New Zealanders on the Government's response to COVID-19. Links to videos and transcripts of these updates below. These transcripts also include All of Government press conferences led by Director Ministry of Health's Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield. 25 March: Live update from the Prime ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Police numbers break through 10,000 mark
    Frontline Police numbers have broken through the 10,000 mark for the first time in history as officers step forward to keep the community safe during the COVID19 lockdown. “Two Police graduations in Auckland and Wellington in the past week have been conducted in unprecedented circumstances,” Police Minister Stuart Nash said. ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Urgent tax measures for economic recovery
    Urgent legislation has been passed to support the package of economic and social measures needed to recover from the impact of the coronavirus outbreak. “The COVID-19 Response (Taxation and Social Assistance Urgent Measures) Bill will cushion New Zealanders from the worst economic impacts of the COVID-19 outbreak,” said Revenue Minister ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Further support for farmers and growers as drought persists
    From tomorrow, Government support for farmers and growers affected by drought will be expanded and extended across the country, with access to Rural Assistance Payments (RAPS) available throughout the North Island, parts of the South Island and the Chatham Islands, Social Development Minister Carmel Sepuloni announced. “These challenging conditions have ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • COVID-19: Temporary changes to Education Act
    Parliament has passed amendments to legislation that give the Secretary of Education stronger powers to act in the fight to limit the spread of COVID-19, Education Minister Chris Hipkins said today. “They are part of a suite of changes passed under the COVID-19 Response (Urgent Management Measures) Legislation Bill,” Chris ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Canada, Australia, Chile, Brunei and Myanmar join NZ and Singapore in committing to keeping supply a...
    Canada, Australia, Chile, Brunei and Myanmar have joined forces with New Zealand and Singapore by committing to keep supply chains open and remove any existing trade restrictive measures on essential goods, especially medical supplies, in the face of the Covid-19 crisis.  Trade and Export Growth Minister David Parker today welcomed ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • COVID-19: Rent increase freeze and more protection for tenants
    Immediate freeze on rent increases Tenancies will not be terminated during the lock-down period, unless the parties agree, or in limited circumstances Tenants who had previously given notice can stay in their if they need to stay in the tenancy during the lock-down period Tenants will still be able to ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Working together to protect businesses and workers
    As New Zealand unites to lock-down in the fight against COVID-19, the Finance Minister is urging all businesses and workers to stay connected over the next four weeks. “We understand the extreme pressure many businesses are under right now. I know most business owners think of their workers as family ...
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    Mr Speaker I wish to make a Ministerial Statement under Standing Order 347 in relation to the recent declaration of a State of National Emergency. Having considered the advice of the Director Civil Defence Emergency Management, the Minister of Civil Defence declared a State of National Emergency for the whole of ...
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