One issue that hasn’t died down over the Christmas break is controversy over the TPP. News that it is to be “signed into existence” in NZ in February was leaked by South American media, denied by the Nats, and then confirmed. The date mentioned in the leaks is 4th February, NZ coverage so far says only “early: February.
The Nats have often said that our Parliament will have to ratify the TPP, but this is not true, it will be done by Cabinet. Another entry to add to Key’s long-list-o-lies. (At The Daily Blog, Frank Macskasy does an excellent job of documenting much of the above, but he appears to be confused though about the difference between signing the document and ratifying it.)
Bryan Gould sums up the extent to which our democracy is being shafted in the service of the TPP:
It is one of the peculiarities of a Westminster-style constitution that the power to conclude international treaties rests exclusively with the executive – in our case, with the Cabinet. The Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) is no exception. While a National Interest Analysis will be prepared by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, and will most likely be considered by a Select Committee, our elected representatives can – if the government wishes – be totally ignored.
This constitutes not only a potentially damaging side-lining of parliament but also a denial of democracy itself; it continues a process that has been throughout characterised by secrecy and the contemptuous refusal to take any account of public opinion.
Not content with conducting negotiations in secret, and with excluding any consideration of public opinion, the attempt has been made to close down even a scintilla of publicity that might indicate a degree of public concern. Even the public signing of the TPP in New Zealand on 4 February is being so carefully managed that we know about it only because the news was leaked in Chile.
Democracy is necessarily at times a messy and discomfiting business. But when such care is taken to deny it, we should be truly worried.
In other current TPP related news, let’s see…
Right wingers are over-stimulated by the World Bank estimate of a 10 per cent boost to NZ exports by 2030 – this compares to our own MFAT estimate of a 6.8% increase in exports and only a 0.9% increase in GDP over all by 2030. Most other TPP economies benefit even less. As has frequently been pointed out, the TPP is less of a free trade deal than it is a deal for extending the power of (largely American) corporations (I/S at No Right Turn adds another angle, arguing that the TPP is also a power play against China).
More cautious observers have consistently argued that the TPP costs are going to outweigh the benefits. More costs are coming to light all the time, like the estimated $55m cost of new copyright charges (originally from The Herald but seems to have disappeared). Much more worrisome is the prospect of NZ getting sued under Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) clauses – this week for example TransCanada went after the US for $15 billion (as a result of Obama’s rejection of the Keystone pipeline).
Not that it will do any good of course, but now days even All Blacks are speaking out against the TPP. Not that it will do any good of course, but here’s another petition – We do not consent to the TPPA.
Happy New Year.