Trading away our rights

Written By: - Date published: 3:38 pm, November 15th, 2010 - 32 comments
Categories: Economy - Tags:

The dark side of the current much-heralded free trade talks is that New Zealand could end up letting foreign firms dictate how the country is run, from quarantine rules to local content laws, unless it learns the lessons of previous trade deals.

A new book edited by Auckland academic Jane Kelsey, No Ordinary Deal, points out that free trade deals are now about far more than just tariffs. In the name of freeing up markets everywhere, they tend also to prevent governments from taking any steps that might harm foreign businesses – even basic measures that democratic societies take for granted, like controlling tobacco sales.

The result, the book warns, is that foreign companies can often sue governments for millions of dollars simply for carrying out the anti-poverty, communitarian policies that their electorates want.

The background to all this is the latest round of trade talks, scheduled for Auckland next month, in which New Zealand will be talking about extending a current free trade agreement, with Brunei, Chile and Singapore, to cover other Pacific Rim countries including, crucially, the United States. These talks – known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement or TPPA – have, by holding out the prospect of free trade with the US, got ministers all excited.

No Ordinary Deal, however, warns that that hope may prove illusory. The US has almost certainly no intention of dropping barriers to New Zealand dairy farmers. As economist Joseph Stiglitz said of previous trade talks, ‘One can’t think that New Zealand would ever get anything it cares about.’ We, having removed almost all our tariffs, have no negotiating power; and the US very rarely gives away any significant concessions.

A wider Pacific trade deal that included Japan, say, could bring benefits for New Zealand by cutting import tariffs. But even those benefits may be less than expected, the book warns. The IMF has predicted that Australia’s 2004 free trade deal with the US, for instance, will actually shrink its economy by 0.03 per cent a year.

Since 2004, Australia’s trade deficit with the US has widened from US$6.4bn to US$11.6bn. Free trade deals often allow the bigger country to import more into the smaller than vice-versa. They also make it easier for companies to move offshore, knowing they will face no barrier to entry, rather than stay in their home country. Advocates of free trade usually rely on the abstract idea that it automatically gives the economy more dynamism and makes investment less risky – an assumption not backed up by any evidence, the book argues. (It is surprising, the book argues, that no formal study of the TPPA’s benefits to New Zealand has been carried out.)

But if the benefits are small, the dangers are great, No Ordinary Deal warns. It is not clear just what the current talks will mean, because – in a fundamentally undemocratic move – the text of any trade deal remains secret until after it is signed. But judging by previous deals, the US will exert enormous pressure to include clauses that prevent any policies harmful to foreign companies – even if they might be justified socially.

Such provisions in past trade deals have forced countries to abandon quotas for local content, weaken policies that give citizens cheap generic medicines, and drop controls on tobacco advertising. More seriously, some countries have even given foreign companies the right to sue them if they feel disadvantaged by law changes. This extraordinary move, which puts companies on the same legal footing as democratically elected governments, has already cost countries hundreds of millions of dollars in court cases worldwide.

However, the book also highlights how Australia resisted most US attempts to include these dangerous provisions – partly thanks to a huge lobbying campaign by leftwing groups, trade unions and charities. The argument is not against trade: almost everyone accepts that increased trade between nations is a good idea. The point is the terms of that trade. New Zealanders should be very concerned if, in order to gain some potentially quite small benefit, the National government signs away our right to protect local communities, take public health measures that may hurt tobacco companies, and, in the most fundamental sense, organise our society the way we want it.

32 comments on “Trading away our rights”

  1. On one side of this debate you have the elites, supported by a few prominent necromancers (aka economists), for who any expression of an opinion that we should adopt a position short of pantsless ankle-grabbing toward foreigners sees the holder denounced as a xenophobe and a racist.

    If the criticism is merely pointing out, for instance, that the “Australian” banks have no real interest in Australia and even less in NZ, then condescension is the de facto reponse: we simply don’t understand the intricate complextities of international finance; we don’t comprehend the horrific implications of any attempt to control their rapacious and unprincipled behaviour; we’re simply simple economic Luddites, who need to shush and leave the important decisions to our betters.

    Meanwhile Australians themselves express exactly the same concerns about their country:

    Concern is growing in rural areas as foreign government-backed entities buy up significant parcels of agricultural land.

    More than $9 billion of prized agricultural assets have been sold to offshore interests in the past two years alone, The Daily Telegraph said on Monday.

    Nations leading the charge are predominantly Asian and Middle Eastern and include the economic powerhouse of China.

    A NineMSN online poll running today (admittedly not scientific, but a large sample size) asking “Should foreigners be stopped from buying prime farmland?” is running 62,420 “Yes” to 6017 “No” – a margin of roughly 10:1.

    And the elites wonder how NZ First gained traction… People don’t have to read Kelsey’s book to instinctively know something is amiss. They need only look at their own attitudes and know that the only country they love is their own; that if they owned large tracts of another then they’d exploit it without concern for what was best for its inhabitants, with whom they have no connection and feel no empathy, and at least to the full extent permitted by local laws.

    And they know that if they’d do it, then it is most certainly being done to them.

    Unless a major party repositions its stance to reflect this, then third parties who do – notably the Greens, at this point, though there will be others – will end up relegating them to the second tier of politics.

    • Richard 1.1

      A NineMSN online poll running today (admittedly not scientific, but a large sample size) asking “Should foreigners be stopped from buying prime farmland?” is running 62,420 “Yes” to 6017 “No” – a margin of roughly 10:1.

      It’s all in the wording, of course.

      I think that you might get very different answers to questions such as:

      – Should foreigners be allowed to buy marginal farmland?
      – Should Australians be able to borrow money from foreigners to buy land in Australia?
      – Should foreigners be prevented from investing in Australia?
      – As they Share Our Cultural Values are English investors better than Asian ones?
      – Should immigrants to Australia be able to buy land in Australia?

      • I think that you might get very different answers

        The last one asks a very different question to to the others and so I think you’d get a very different answer. Most people accept that if someone wants to come to their country and embrace living there, then they ought to be accorded the same rights and opportunities as anyone else who lives there.

        It’s the faceless offshore residents (in which description I include companies) that quite legitimately concern people. They have no ties to nor interest in the country in which they’re buying up land, other than maximising the profit they can extract.

        On that basis I think you’d be told no; possibly (depending on the terms); depends (on how you define “investment” for a start); usually (though some Asian investor may not share those values they’re still willing to respect them); and yes.

        At least that’s my read of it, from talking to a large number of Australians from all walks of life (no merchant bankers or directors of foreign multinationals were included in my sample, however).

        • Richard 1.1.1.1

          The last one asks a very different question to to the others and so I think you’d get a very different answer. Most people accept that if someone wants to come to their country and embrace living there, then they ought to be accorded the same rights and opportunities as anyone else who lives there.

          There only seems to be thin semantic difference between a property owner in, say, Sydney but who lives in Brisbane, and one who lives in New Zealand.

          It’s the faceless offshore residents (in which description I include companies) that quite legitimately concern people. They have no ties to nor interest in the country in which they’re buying up land, other than maximising the profit they can extract.

          The same holds true for many of the Australians who own land in Australia.

          The problem is the sorts of people who have access to the resources to enable them to “own” large tracts of land, and how they are permitted to use that ownership. The problem is nothing to do with the “nationality” of those people.

          • Rex Widerstrom 1.1.1.1.1

            There only seems to be thin semantic difference between a property owner in, say, Sydney but who lives in Brisbane, and one who lives in New Zealand

            I’m a NZer presently living in Perth. I like Australia, and Australians. I certainly wish them no harm. But do I care about them in the way I do NZ and NZers. Not even close. Maybe I’m an anomaly?

            If I owned property in Sydney and lived in NZ, why would I care about the quality of life of Sydneysiders? I’d want the Australian government to do whatever was best for my property interests, nothing more nor less.

            The problem is the sorts of people who have access to the resources to enable them to “own” large tracts of land, and how they are permitted to use that ownership. The problem is nothing to do with the “nationality” of those people.

            I’m not sure what you’re suggesting (if anything) here? We can’t start choosin g who we sell assets to on the basis of “suitability”, surely? It’s too subjective. We can, however, assume – and reasonably so, IMHO – that someone who doesn’t live in the country in which they own land won’t care about that country beyond whatever affects their capacity to maximise the value they extract from that land.

  2. Bill 2

    What about pharmac? My understanding is that foreign pharmaceuticals have been wanting it gone for some time now. Under a free trade deal, pharmac could, probably would, be deemed to be a trade barrier.

    • Lanthanide 2.1

      Yeah, that’s my biggest fear with any free trade deals. I don’t want to see our public health care system, and I’m including ACC there, be impacted negatively in any way by a free trade deal. Getting a deal with the US is almost certain to see discussions around those areas, however.

    • Vicky32 2.2

      I heard something about Pharmac on the politics programme on RadioNZ this morning – the right guy (Mathew Hooton?) foaming at the mouth as usual, and Andrew Campbell being rather concerned about Pharmac’s fate …
      Deb

    • Rosy 2.3

      It seems Germany is planning legislation that seems very much like Pharmac. That will have a really big impact on drugs companies if it goes ahead.
      http://www.pharmatimes.com/Article/10-11-15/German_pharma_price_cut_plans_move_closer.aspx

  3. BLiP 3

    National Ltd™ has already proved that its willing to sell legislation that removes the rights of citizens to the benefit of foreign corporations.

  4. Draco T Bastard 4

    Trade is a good idea but land is not trade-able and neither is sovereignty. It should, quite simply, be limited to completed products only.

    • Bill 4.1

      Like blue eyed babies?

      • Joachim's 4.2.1

        Where services are not things like tap water, electricity, internet, basic banking, phones, prisons and sewage treatment.

        • Rex Widerstrom 4.2.1.1

          Indeed. In fact calling electricity, water, sewage etc “services” is stretching the term to breaking point considering the turbines, dams, pipes etc etc that are required to manufacture them, let alone the infrastructure required to deliver them, which is why I wasn’t even thinking of them when I wrote the above. They’re selling a product, not a service.

          Banking is more a service, but it’s importance to national stability puts it into a category of its own IMO. Internet, well… I think the delivery pipes are on the verge of expanding to such an extent that, for once, genuine competition might do the job it’s sold as doing for all the above, but doesn’t.

          My views on private prisons don’t accord with yours (or indeed most people who comment here) because I’ve seen state and private prisons at work and the private one is superior in almost every respect. However they’re not all that way of course… my position is simply that they don’t have to be a bad thing, give the right contract, the determination to enforce it, and attitude by the operator.

          • Joachim's 4.2.1.1.1

            Perhaps a prison where the hardware is owned by the Government and then it is maintained and run by a private firm? That way the private firm can be sent packing if required and a new crew brought in very quickly.

          • Draco T Bastard 4.2.1.1.2

            In fact calling electricity, water, sewage etc “services”…They’re selling a product, not a service.

            They’re not a product either, they’re a public utility. Essential and/or a natural monopoly.

            Banking is more a service,

            Banking is a service. The problem I have with the present banking system is that the private banks print the money which should be a government monopoly. But some of the services also happen to be an essential service in today’s world (EFT-POS etc) which should be done by a government department rather than the private banking system.

            Internet, well… I think the delivery pipes are on the verge of expanding to such an extent that, for once, genuine competition might do the job it’s sold as doing for all the above, but doesn’t.

            Local internet/telecommunications is a natural monopoly as multiple networks cost a hell of a lot and you don’t get true competition anyway as it’s a losing business proposition. Transnational telecommunications cables can be competitive but I do recall what happened with the cabling between England, the US and Europe – they ended up with so much competition that the companies that put in the cables were losing money. Competition reduces profit – not costs.

            I’ve seen state and private prisons at work and the private one is superior in almost every respect.

            So if you put in all the necessary regulations to produce a better outcome then you get one.

            That’s really all you’re saying and that could have been done with a state prison without the dead weight loss of profit thrown in.

            • Joachim's 4.2.1.1.2.1

              I believe that basic banking should be treated as a utility and run not for profit. You cannot function in a modern society nor collect your pay without the use of a bank account and an ATM/EFTPOS card. You cannot pay for your water, your electricity, your phone or your rates.

              You essentially have no choice but to use banking services to access every other necessity and utility in society, and banking should not make a profit on that basis.

            • Rex Widerstrom 4.2.1.1.2.2

              So if you put in all the necessary regulations to produce a better outcome then you get one.

              That’s really all you’re saying and that could have been done with a state prison without the dead weight loss of profit thrown in.

              Absolutely… if you could get past the entrenched “we’ve always done it this way… I came up through the ranks… who do you think you are?” attitude you find in state prison administration (at least in NZ and Austrlaia, the two I’ve experienced).

              And then apply the same recruiting standards (retrospectively) to state prison officers to get rid of the small minority who are unsuitable. And probably clean out the superintendents of most prisons.

              If a party proposed a clean slate review of prisons I’d be all for it. And I’d then be saying private prisons are an unnecessary burden.

              The reason I want them at present is to have a real world example of how it can be done better, on the same budget (or actually less of one, if you take the profit factor out). Because the state employees will tell you it can’t.

              Broadly agreed re power and banks etc, BTW.

    • Nick C 4.3

      If you accept the rational for trade then what distinction can you draw between \’completed\’ products and uncompleted products? As an example: Consider a market with 2 countries and 2 goods: Japan and New Zealand, and computers and milk. You would accept that NZ has a comparitive advantage in producing milk and Japan in computers. presumably you support trade on the grounds that it leads to specialisation is mutually beneficial.

      Why cant that specialisation apply to primary production (producing uncompleted products) and then completing those products?

      • Colonial Viper 4.3.1

        Specialisation leads to additional economic fragility and is going to be less and less of a good thing going forwards. Especially as the price of transport oil skyrockets, each country is going to have to be able to manufacture a more complete portfolio of goods itself.

        Also you are changing the proper usage of the economic concept of ‘comparative advantage’. NZ may have some advantage in the production of milk, but Japan has no inherent nature given advantage in the production of PCs (unlike woollen textiles in England and wine in Portugal).

        Why cant that specialisation apply to primary production (producing uncompleted products) and then completing those products?

        Because although specialisation and technology can of course be applied to the production of primary commodities, the level of specialisation and technology measured in terms of commercial value added per unit of product remains relatively low. Grass to spray milk powder. Yes some value add. Sand and bauxite to an iPad. Huge value add.

        • Nick C 4.3.1.1

          “Specialisation leads to additional economic fragility and is going to be less and less of a good thing going forwards.”

          You are possibly correct, however that isnt a reason for intervention in the market or to not sign free trade deals. If high transport costs in the future means that imports become more expensive then that will incentivise businesses to produce those goods here. Its a question of who has better information about exactly to what extent it is efficient to produce those goods here vs overseas; the government or the market.

          “Also you are changing the proper usage of the economic concept of ‘comparative advantage’”

          No, comparitive advantage doesnt have to be a ‘natural advantage’, it just means you can produce a good at a lower relative cost than another country.

      • Draco T Bastard 4.3.2

        You would accept that NZ has a comparitive advantage in producing milk and Japan in computers.

        No I wouldn’t. NZ would have an absolute advantage in milk due to access to land and anyone can make a factory. If Japan wasn’t so over-populated they would have the same advantage in milk production as we do, ergo, no advantage either way and so trade would bring no benefit.

        presumably you support trade on the grounds that it leads to specialisation is mutually beneficial.

        Nope, I support trade because it allows for transfer of technology/knowledge until such time as both traders have the knowledge and technology to produce the products themselves (Which is what China’s doing BTW). Specialisation works at an individual level but not at a society level. As I’ve said before, not everyone wants to be a farmer. Given that fact those people who don’t want to be a farmer and who want to make computers instead, specialisation of the country will force them to leave. These are likely to be our best and brightest.

        Specialisation of a society harms that society by preventing it’s development.

        • Nick C 4.3.2.1

          “Specialisation works at an individual level but not at a society level”

          I guess thats where we differ: I’m quite happy to view the entire globe as a society for economic purposes. Which seems to make more sense: with your argument for example why shouldnt Wellington or Auckland be self sufficient? Also, the transfer of knowledge and technology is an ongoing process as new technology is constantly being developed. You cant just decide “Ok we have all the technology we want, lets shut up shop” because thats when you fall behind everyone else.

          “Given that fact those people who don’t want to be a farmer and who want to make computers instead, specialisation of the country will force them to leave”

          Well specialisation has never occured to that extent. If you want to work with computers in New Zealand its not like you cant.

          • felix 4.3.2.1.1

            And that’s exactly the problem with your approach, Nick. You see the whole world as a single economic entity so you think that as long as overall profits are increasing, the world as a whole is better off.

            Of course reality proves this not to be the case as these profits are heavily concentrated and becoming more and more so.

          • Draco T Bastard 4.3.2.1.2

            I’m quite happy to view the entire globe as a society for economic purposes.

            Which doesn’t work either as each country is different and each has to live within it’s own Renewable Resource Base. NZ already doesn’t live within that base, especially in regards to farming, as can easily be seen by the state of our rivers and lakes. The pollution from farming far exceeds what nature can clean up (i.e, we don’t even have the absolute advantage there either). Then add in the cost of transportation and you’ll find that the “global economy” is pure delusion. Trade between countries will still occur but it won’t be as large as it is now.

            Well specialisation has never occured to that extent. If you want to work with computers in New Zealand its not like you cant.

            If it’s not occurring then what’s the argument for it?

  5. I’m concerned that our communities haven’t really had the information with which to engage with our politicians on the issue of this free trade agreement, so on my blog I’m doing some ‘demystifying the TPPA’ discussion to help raise awareness of the types of things that are at stake. I’ve spent the last couple of days blogging on some of the issues identified in Jane Kelsey’s book on my blog ‘Kate’s Online http://katekennedyonline.blogspot.com. Please feel free to drop by, and if you’re interested check out my Facebook Group discussion as well. Knowledge is power, but only until the deal is signed and sealed.

    • jimmy 5.1

      Great blog Kate (and Guest for that matter), I especially liked that bit about the investor-state complaints process, I have a section of my masters on that sort of carry-on so I will be Google Scholaring that up tommorrow morning!

      On that note, in International Relations the anti-democratic tendencies of these free-trade deals is called ‘New Constitutionalism’ as they are essentially constitutional documents limiting the soverignty of states to the terms of the agreement and empowering a closed-door juristocracy to make sure they dont try thinking of an intervention in the market.

      Thatcher, Reagan, and Douglas were roll-back neoliberals in that they wanted the state out, what we have now is roll-out neoliberals making sure we dont have any movement towards ameleorating any negative side-effects of the market utopia they have created.

  6. The Pacific trade deal with the US won’t happen as the US is in full crisis mode. It’s trying to roll back history but won’t succeed. Economics speaks louder than politics. China is buying the loyalty of the Pacific countries and the US can only scramble its diplomacy and military in a futile gesture to bolster its waning economic power.
    Ironically China is the only country that has allowed the US to enter and screw it but on its own terms. No FTA which allows the US to impose conditions on China. US is allowed to super exploit Chinese workers but China gets the technology, the markets and accumulates capital in its own right. Major capital controls, limits to foreign ownership. No land sales. No way China will be bullied over its currency.
    Meanwhile China expands at phenomenal rate accounting for half of world growth. The NZ and Aust bosses know this and are have survived the recession so far on the strength of trade with China. So the circus around the Pacific FTA is nothing but a rev up to prepare for war as its economic interests begin to be seriously threatened by China. NZ workers should reject US imperialist sabre rattling and at the same time align themselves with the Chinese working class to oppose the interests of China’s new imperialist class.

  7. Carol 7

    Jane Kelsey was detained entering Aussie on Sunday because of past criminal convictions. She says she has done many trips to Aussie in recent years and usually only has a slight delay, checking her convictions. She doesn’t know if it was a particular officer being a bit finnicky, or due to her going to Aussie to promote her book on the TPP:

    http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/4351076/Protest-conviction-causes-trouble-for-Kiwi-academic

    “I always tick the box about criminal convictions, which relate to the Springbok tour and Bastion Point in the early 1980s. They have the list on record at Australian immigration. Usually I wait 10 or at most 15 minutes and they wave me on. This twist came completely out of the blue.”

    She has complained to the Australian High Commissioner.

    “It is possible it is an ill-judged over-reach by super-officious immigration officials at Sydney,” she said.

    “However it is equally likely that my name has recently been flagged, presumably linked to my role in promoting critical debate on the TransPacific Partnership negotiations. Requiring me to apply for a visa each time I go to Australia would make it easier to monitor and restrict my movements. At the very least it sends an intimidating message to me and to others.”

    Prof Kelsey previously said the SIS was keeping tabs on her because of her criticism of neo-liberalism and free trade agreements.

  8. Frank Macskasy 8

    John Key recently warned New Zealand against over-reaction regarding foreign investment. He said, in part;

    “Because it will always be here, the use of that land will always be subject to New Zealand laws and regulations. And ultimately we as New Zealanders get to determine what those laws and regulations will be.” ” – http://www.stuff.co.nz/business/farming/4354966/Key-warns-about-foreign-investment-fears

    Are these the same laws and regulations that he and his mates recently changed, under “urgency”, for the benefit of Warner Bros?

    Mr Key – your BS is starting to catch up with you.

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  • Behind Every Good Woman Should Stand – Another Good Woman.
    Alone, Alone, All, All, Alone: To argue that the Prime Minister is the victim of her advisers’ failure to keep her informed may offer Jacinda some measure of exoneration – but only at the cost of casting her as a hopeless political ingénue. A star-dusted muppet, whose only purpose is to ...
    3 days ago
  • Poor quality, poorly educated kiddie ‘Journalists’ spreading fake news
    In times of hysteria about the “World coming to an end” and “rising sea levels” so-called ‘Journalists’ who can barely spell words longer than four letters are having a ball! Though the majority of the Public have worked out that manmade climate change is nothing short of pseudo-science, and the ...
    An average kiwiBy admin@averagekiwi.com
    3 days ago
  • Chris Trotter on the BFD
    I don't want to give pblicity to certain parts of the internet that are better left to fester in their own irrelevance (I know, a bit like this place) but the listing of Chris Trotter as a 'author' on Cameron Slater's spinoff website, the BFD requires some explanation.Now, I don't ...
    3 days ago
  • Sex is not a spectrum
    The text below is a Twitter thread by Heather Heying that explains the essence of sexual reproduction and it long evolutionary history. She is an evolutionary biologist and a “professor-in-exile” after she and her husband, Bret Weinstein, stood up to supporters of an enforced “Day of Absence” for white staff and teachers ...
    RedlineBy Daphna
    3 days ago
  • Climate Change: Trees, aviation, and offsets
    With crunch time for new Zealand climate policy approaching, most of the New Zealand media have got on board with a global reporting effort to cover the issue. There's one strand of stories today about polling and what it shows about changing public attitudes to the crisis, but the strand ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    3 days ago
  • Pissing-Off The Israelis Is A High-Risk Strategy.
    Dangerous Foes: For those readers of Bowalley Road who feel disposed to dismiss any prospect of an Israeli destabilisation of New Zealand politics, the example of the United Kingdom repays close attention. Ever since the election of Jeremy Corbyn as leader of the British Labour Party, the Israelis have sanctioned, funded and ...
    3 days ago
  • Something to go to in Wellington
    Make It 16, the youth-led campaign to lower New Zealand's voting age, is holding an official campaign launch at Parliament this Friday from 16:30. If you'd like to attend, you can register using EventBrite here. ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    4 days ago
  • A founding member responds to Peace Action Wellington
    by Don Franks It was a lovely sunny Wellington afternoon with blue skies above  the beaches.  In Courtenay Place, political activists packed out a stuffy upstairs room for an important meeting. The assembled pacifists, anarchists, communists and independent young radicals of Peace Action Wellington felt the need for a mission ...
    RedlineBy Admin
    4 days ago
  • “Mistakes and errors”
    Current and former NZDF top brass are being publicly grilled this week by the hit and run inquiry over their public responses to allegations of civilian casualties. Previously, they've claimed there were no casualties, a position which led them to lie to Ministers and to the public. Now, they're saying ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    4 days ago
  • “Homosexuality is same-sex attraction and relationships, not heterosexuals with delusions of gende...
    by Rafael D. Quiles (gender-critical gay man from Puerto Rico) The writing on the wall is right in people’s faces and people just don’t see it or don’t want to. What could actually possess a heterosexual male to want to feminize himself and claim that he is a lesbian? Because ...
    RedlineBy Admin
    4 days ago
  • Trump: “Where’s my favourite dictator?”
    From the Wall Street Journal:Inside a room of the ornately decorated Hotel du Palais during last month’s Group of Seven summit in Biarritz, France, President Trump awaited a meeting with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al Sisi. Mr. Trump looked over a gathering of American and Egyptian officials and called out in ...
    5 days ago
  • Magdalen Burns, 1983-2019, fighter for women’s liberation
    by the Redline blog collective At Redline we are very saddened to hear of the death of Magdalen Burns who passed away on the morning of Friday, September 13 (British time). Magdalen was a great fighter for the rights of women in general and lesbian women in particular, a defender ...
    RedlineBy Admin
    5 days ago
  • Parliament and the Executive
    The Brexit issue has certainly brought with it a series of apparently difficult constitutional issues, many of them concerning the respective roles of the executive and parliament. Most of them arise because of the unwillingness of MPs, despite their professions to the contrary, to be bound by a constitutional rarity ...
    Bryan GouldBy Bryan Gould
    6 days ago
  • The Abigail Article; Martyn Bradbury’s Article, and My Response
    . . This blogpost is different to my usual format of reporting on issues… Since July 1011, I have blogged on a variety of political issues; near always political and/or environmental; mostly highly critical of the previous National Government. Other issues included Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands and repression of ...
    Frankly SpeakingBy Frank Macskasy
    6 days ago
  • Police will have to wear silly Buckingham Palace hats from now on, says Police Minister
    Those close to the Police Minister believe the initiative may be the result of Nash “seeing a great deal” on AliExpress. In a move that comes seemingly out of nowhere, Police Minister Stuart Nash announced this afternoon that he expects all frontline staff to don bearskin hats, famously worn by ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    6 days ago
  • A sensible crackdown
    The government has released its Arms Legislation Bill, containing the second tranche of changes to gun laws following the March 15 massacre. And it all looks quite sensible: a national gun register, higher penalties for illegal possession and dealing, tighter restrictions on arms dealers and shooting clubs, and a shorter ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    6 days ago
  • California bans private prisons
    Private prisons are a stain on humanity. Prison operators explicitly profit from human misery, then lobby for longer prisons terms so they can keep on profiting. And in the US, prison companies run not only local and state prisons, but also Donald Trump's immigration concentration camps. Faced with this moral ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    7 days ago
  • Why PPPs are a bad idea
    When National was in power, they were very keen on Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs) - basicly, using private companies to finance public infrastructure as a way of hiding debt from the public. They were keen on using them for everything - roads, schools, hospitals. But as the UK shows, that "service" ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    7 days ago
  • A Movement That No Longer Moves.
    Moving And Shaking: There was a time when people spoke matter-of-factly about the “labour movement” – a political phenomenon understood to embrace much more than the Labour Party. Included within the term’s definition was the whole trade union movement – many of whose members looked upon the Labour Party as ...
    7 days ago
  • NZ ‘left’ politically embracing extreme postmodernism
    by Philip Ferguson Much of the left, even people who formally identify as marxists, have collapsed politically in the face of postmodern gender theory of the sort pioneered by American philosopher Judith Butler. For Butler even biological sex is socially constructed. “If the immutable character of sex is contested, perhaps ...
    RedlineBy Daphna
    1 week ago
  • The obvious question
    The media is reporting that the (alleged) Labour party sexual assaulter has resigned from their job at Parliament, which means hopefully he won't be turning up there making people feel unsafe in future. Good. But as with everything about this scandal, it just raises other questions. Most significantly: why the ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • The moment I found out that you found out, I acted swiftly
    By Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern I am every bit as angry as you are. I am every bit as disappointed as you must be. The people with power, oversight and the ability to do something about these processes within the Labour Party should be ashamed. Whoever those people are, I ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    1 week ago
  • This is why people hate property developers
    Property developers think there is an "oversupply" of houses in Auckland:High turnover rates and falling prices may be a sign that there are too many new houses going in to some parts of Auckland, commentators say. [...] Property developer David Whitburn said there was a "bit of an oversupply" in ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Australia to Pacific: “Fuck you, you can all drown”
    World leaders are meeting in New York in two weeks for the 2019 Climate Action Summit, where they are expected to announce new and more ambitious targets to stop the world from burning. But the Australian Prime Minister won't be there, despite being in the USA at the time:Scott Morrison ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Implausible ignorance
    Labour Party president Nigel Haworth resigned yesterday over the party's sexual assault scandal. But while that's good news, its unlikely to take away the stench of a coverup. Because according to Paula Bennett in Parliament yesterday, pretty much everyone in the Prime Minister's office was involved as well:I have been ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Labour’s Fatal Flaw.
     Two-Faced? Labour insiders' commitment to the neoliberal status quo puts them at odds with their party’s membership; its trade union affiliates; and a majority of Labour voters, but this only serves to strengthen the perception they have of themselves as a special elite. Among the lesser breeds, they’ll talk up a ...
    1 week ago
  • Ten reasons the Tories do NOT want an election
    There has been a lot of talk about Boris Johnson wanting an election, and he has blustered with great gusto about 'chicken' Jeremy Corbyn refusing one, but I think there are many reasons why he is secretly glad he has been refused the opportunity:The Tories are an utter rabble,tearing themselves ...
    1 week ago
  • Prorogation Illegal, rule Scottish judges
    Scottish appeal court judges have declared that Boris Johnson’s decision to suspend parliament in the run-up to the October Brexit deadline is unlawful. The three judges, chaired by Lord Carloway, Scotland’s most senior judge, overturned an earlier ruling that the courts did not have the powers to interfere in the prime ...
    1 week ago
  • Let me explain what I meant by Everyday New Zealanders
    By Simon Bridges. The following is a press release from the office of Simon Bridges, leader of The National Party. Key ora, New Zealand. Happy Maori Language Week. Look, I’m writing to you today because I want to clear something up. There’s been a lot of kerfuffle around some things ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    1 week ago
  • Yes, the SIS is subject to the Public Records Act
    I understand there's some stuff going round about how the SIS "was removed from the list of public offices covered by the Public Records Act in 2017". The context of course being their records derived from US torture, which will be disposed of or sealed. The good news is that ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • An evidence-based discussion of the Canadian fluoride/IQ study
    Dr. Christopher Labos and Jonathan Jarry discuss the recent Canadian fluoride/IQ research. They provide an expert analysis of the paper and its problems. Click on image to go to podcast. The critical debate about the recent ...
    1 week ago
  • Climate Change: Australia in denial
    Australia is burning down again, and meanwhile its natural disaster minister is denying climate change:Australia’s minister responsible for drought and natural disasters, David Littleproud, has said that he doesn’t “know if climate change is manmade”. Clarifying earlier comments that the question is “irrelevant” when considering the Coalition government’s response to ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Philippines activist speaking on the Duterte tyranny
    Auckland Philippines Solidarity is excited to host Professor Judy Taguiwalo for a speaking tour of NZ in September. She is a well-known activist in the Philippines and was a political prisoner under the Marcos dictatorship. Professor Taguiwalo briefly served as a Cabinet member under President Duterte but was forced from ...
    RedlineBy Daphna
    1 week ago
  • Disgust
    I have no special insights to offer on the Labour sexual assault coverup. All I have is disgust. Disgust that an organisation could fail its people so badly. Disgust that they punished the victims rather than the perpetrator. Disgust that its party hacks are apparently blaming the victims for demanding ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Speak Up for Women calls out Greens’ censorship
    This open letter to the Green Party was penned after an opinion piece by Jill Abigail, a feminist and founding member of the party, was censored by the Greens’ leadership. (Redline has reprinted her article here).The intolerance of the Green Party leaders and their acceptance of the misogyny of gender ...
    RedlineBy Daphna
    1 week ago
  • Member’s Day: End of Life Choice, part 3
    Today is a Member's day, and David Seymour's End of Life Choice Bill continues its slow crawl through its committee stage. They're spending the whole day on it today, though the first hour is likely to be spent on voting left over from last time. After that they'll move on ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Flight to Los Angeles turned back after passengers decide they don’t want to go anymore
    An ambitious plan to fly to Los Angeles petered out into a brief sight-seeing trip and a desire to return home and get some sleep before work tomorrow. Air New Zealand has confirmed a flight to Los Angeles last night was turned back about a quarter of the way into ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    1 week ago
  • Indigenous Futures: defuturing and futuring – an analytical framework for policy development?
    There appears to be consensus – by omission – that the concept of indigenous futures should be accepted at face value. So I scavenged the internet to see if I could locate an academic descriptor or a framework around how we think about it as a concept, and whether it ...
    EllipsisterBy Ellipsister
    1 week ago
  • Cadbury rumoured to be releasing the Pineapple Trump
    Here’s another novelty chocolate to shove in your gob, New Zealand Cadbury could be seeking to make itself great again with a rumoured new release: Pineapple Trumps, a spin on its classic chocolate-encased pineapple treat and do-it-yourself tooth remover. The global confectionery manufacturer and bumbling “before” character in an infomercial, ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    1 week ago
  • The coming resource war.
    During my time in the Pentagon I had the privilege of sitting down with military leaders and defence and security officials from a variety of Latin American nations. Sometimes I was present as a subordinate assistant to a senior US defence department official, sometimes as part of a delegation that ...
    KiwipoliticoBy Pablo
    1 week ago
  • Māori Language Week with The Civilian
    Kia ora, Aotearoa. It’s that magical time of year. Te Wiki o te Reo Māori. In English, the week that frightens talk radio. As you probably know by now, all your favourite media outlets are participating, some more successfully than others. Stuff has changed its name to Puna for the ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    1 week ago
  • Will Horizons act on climate change?
    Local body elections are coming up next month. And it looks like all Palmerston North candidates for Horizons (the Manawatu-Whanganui Regional Council) want to take action on climate change:Climate change is set to be a key issue in Palmerston North for the next three years if those wanting to get ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • BORA reform is stalled
    Eighteen months ago, the government promised to strengthen the Bill of Rights Act, by explicitly affirming the power of the courts to issue declarations of inconsistency and requiring Parliament to formally respond to them. So how's that going? I was curious, so I asked for all advice about the proposal. ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Corbyn and Brexit
    As the Brexit saga staggers on, the focus is naturally enough on the Prime Minister and his attempts to achieve Brexit “do or die”. But the role played by the Leader of the Opposition is of almost equal interest and complexity. The first problem for Jeremy Corbyn is that he ...
    Bryan GouldBy Bryan Gould
    1 week ago
  • A ditch for him to die in
    Last week, English Prime Minister Boris Johnson boldly declared that he would rather die be dead in a ditch than delay Brexit. Unfortunately for him, the UK parliament accepted the challenge, and promptly dug one for him. The "rebellion bill" requires him to ask for and secure yet another temporary ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Warning! Warning! Danger Jacinda Ardern! Danger Marama Davidson! Warning!
    Lost In Political Space: The most important takeaway from this latest Labour sexual assault scandal, which (if I may paraphrase Nixon’s White House counsel’s, John Dean’s, infamous description of Watergate) is “growing like a cancer” on the premiership, is the Labour Party organisation’s extraordinary professional paralysis in the face of ...
    1 week ago
  • Union solidarity with Ihumatao land occupation
    by Daphna Whitmore Every Sunday for the past two months unionists from First Union, with supporters from other unions, have set out to the Ihumatao land protest, put up gazebos and gas barbeques, and cooked food for a few hundred locals and supporters who have come from across the country. ...
    RedlineBy Daphna
    1 week ago
  • Climate Change: The wrong kind of trees?
    Newsroom today has an excellent, in-depth article on pine trees as carbon sinks. The TL;DR is that pine is really good at soaking up carbon, but people prefer far-less efficient native forests instead. Which is understandable, but there's two problems: firstly, we've pissed about so long on this problem that ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • No freedom of speech in Turkey
    Canan Kaftancioglu is a Turkish politician and member of the opposition Republican People's Party (CHP). Like most modern politicians, she tweets, and uses the platform to criticise the Turkish government. She has criticised them over the death of a 14-year-old boy who was hit by a tear gas grenade during ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Speaker: Tadhg Stopford: Why I’m standing for the ADHB
    Hi there, just call me Tim.We face tough problems, and I’d like to help, because there are solutions.An Auckand District Health Board member has nominated me for as a candidate for the ADHB, because her MS-related pain and fatigue is reduced with hemp products from Rotorua.  Nothing else helped her. If I ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Good little vassals
    The Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security has published their report on whether the SIS and GCSB had any complicity in American torture. And its damning. The pull quote is this:The Inquiry found both agencies, but to a much greater degree, the NZSIS, received many intelligence reports obtained from detainees who, ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Who Shall We Turn To When God, And Uncle Sam, Cease To Defend New Zealand?
    Bewhiskered Cassandra? Professor Hugh White’s chilling suggestion, advanced to select collections of academic, military and diplomatic Kiwi experts over the course of the past week, is that the assumptions upon which Australia and New Zealand have built their foreign affairs and defence policies for practically their entire histories – are ...
    2 weeks ago
  • The Politics of Opposition
    For most of the time I was a British MP, my party was out of government – these were the Thatcher years, when it was hard for anyone else to get a look-in. As a front-bencher and shadow minister, I became familiar with the strategies required in a parliamentary democracy ...
    Bryan GouldBy Bryan Gould
    2 weeks ago
  • More expert comments on the Canadian fluoride-IQ paper
    The Green et al (2019) fluoride/IQ is certainly controversial – as would be expected from its subject (see If at first you don’t succeed . . . statistical manipulation might help and Politics of science – making a silk purse out of a sow’s ear). Anti-fluoride campaigners have been actively promoting it ...
    2 weeks ago
  • The return to guerrilla war in Colombia
    by Gearóid Ó Loingsigh On August 29th a video in which veteran FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia) commander Iván Márquez announced that they had taken up arms again was released. There was no delay in the reaction to it, from longtime Liberal Party figure and former president Uribe, for ...
    RedlineBy Admin
    2 weeks ago

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