Labourites strongly against TPPA

The dominant online Labour view on the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement is negative, despite Helen Clark saying it was ‘unthinkable’ that New Zealand stay out of such a large Pacific Rim trade agreement (and despite it being initiated by Labour in 2003 and worked on right through to the end of Clark’s tenure in 2008).

Rob Salmond seems to expand on Grant Robertson’s themes in TPP, eh? at Public Address.

The deal really is a very big one globally; it’s just not such a big deal for New Zealand.

It looks to me like the biggest loser in the deal is Mexico. It doesn’t get much in the way of market access that it didn’t already have via NAFTA, and the US-Japan deal on autos hurts a lot of Mexican factories purpose-built to supply auto parts from Japanese car companies into the US.

New Zealand isn’t as big of a loser as Mexico, but its gains are very small, and could get swallowed by the sovereignty losses.

Comments are also generally negative.

Greg Presland at The Standard: TPPA agreement reached

The TPPA has been agreed to. Dairy access improvement is minimal, there will be a cost hit on Pharmac and every industry but Tobacco will be able to access the investor state dispute resolution procedure.

Lynn Prentice at The Standard not strictly speaking a Labourite now): As expected, TPPA gives a peanut return

In 15 to 25 years, long long after I have retired,  and the TPPA is fully realised. It maybe worth an extra $260 million per year in possible tariff benefits. By contrast, the China Free Trade Agreement within 5 years was increasing our exports each year by an extra $350 million. But the costs for the TPPA start as soon as it is signed. We may make a profit off it in 10 years. This is not a good deal.

Anthony Robins: TPP roundup

A roundup of the best analysis of and reaction to the TPP. The gains are minor and delayed, the losses are real. In NZ we don’t have any democratic input into ratification, but the US does, and the deal may fall there.

Robins starts his post quoting staunch TPPA opponents Jane Kelsey and Gordon Campbell.

What about the Labour Party itself?

NBR reports: Labour says jury’s out on supporting TPP

Senior Labour Party politicians are waiting for the detail of the Trans Pacific Partnership trade and investment pact before declaring whether it breaches any of the five “bottom lines” the party says the TPP must meet before deciding whether to maintain the long-standing practice of bi-partisan political support for trade deals.

Written statements from acting Labour leader Annette King and finance spokesman Grant Robertson both cited the bottom lines without saying they had been breached.

“Too early to be sure,” said Mr Robertson in answer to a texted question from BusinessDesk. “On land/housing sales, it doesn’t look good, with Aussie-style ban on purchase of existing houses seemingly prevented.”

In her statement, Mrs King said: “Labour supports free trade but the TPPA is more than just a trade agreement. The government must come clean now on what ‘ugly compromises’ they have made behind closed doors.”

So some general criticisms but understandably they need to wait to see the details.

But notably:

Leader Andrew Little is on holiday and has not commented and the party’s trade spokesman, David Parker, is also out of the country.

Unfortunate timing for Little – or perhaps fortunate, it gives him time to digest the agreement and work out a suitable response, but his absence has left a vacuum for Labour’s online warriors to attack the agreement.

Parker’s absence may also be just a quirk of timing, it’s common for MPs to take a break during Parliamentary recesses and school holidays.

But as Labour’s Trade and Export Growth spokesperson Parker seems to have been quiet on the TPPA for some time. His last news release as posted on Labour’s website was on 19 August (on Saudi sheep and SkyCity).

His last item on the TPP was on July 31 – Will poor TPP dairy outcome stop National selling out our homes?

Like the details of the TPPA Labour’s position on the twelve country trade agreement may take some time to emerge with any clarity.

A gun control solution for USA?

Each mass shooting in the US raises the issue of gun control but nothing seems to change. Would this work?

I’m gonna start a Muslims In the NRA movement – get chapters open in every state. Two in Michigan. That’ll get gun control going.

Aussie view on Key, stable government and ‘incremental radicalism’

John Key seems to be the envy of Aussies – those on the right of politics at least. He, Bill English and their Government have been praised again in Australia.

But is the New Zealand electorate averse to radical change? Or have we just not had anyone to lead it since David Lange and Rogernomics?

When Malcolm Turnbull tooked over as Australian Prime Minister last month he praised Key, and said:

“You have to be able to bring people with you respecting their intelligence. John Key has been able to achieve very significant economic reforms in New Zealand by doing just that: by explaining complex issues and then making a case for them.”

Richard Mulgan at the Brisbane Times picks up on this in New Zealand’s John Key can show Malcolm Turnbull how to lead a stable government.
Turnbull was repeating a point commonly made by business critics of the Abbott-Hockey regime. Key, in New Zealand, along with Premier Mike Baird in NSW, provided an alternative, more measured and ultimately more successful model of right-of-centre leadership, which the Coalition in Canberra could well emulate.

Key, as Turnbull remarked, is a highly effective communicator. He mixes easily with all types of people and is a constant presence in the New Zealand media.

Significantly, Key has managed to maintain his popularity while implementing a number of initially unpopular changes. In an effort to discourage ambitious Kiwis from leaving for Australia, his government cut income tax, particularly the top rate, and paid for it by increasing the rate of GST. Key had not flagged these changes at the previous election but relied on a comprehensive campaign of public information and advocacy

On the vexed issue of asset sales, Key promised no such sales in his first term, a commitment he kept in order to gain voter trust. For his second term, he announced a program of partial sale of assets, such as Air New Zealand and state-owned electricity-generating companies. The LFabour opposition campaigned against the sales but without success (a result similar to that in NSW).

It’s interesting to see how much an Aussie journalist knows about what’s been happening here in politics.

[Update: Mulgan should be familiar with New Zealand politics: “is a political scientist. He was on the 1985–86 New Zealand Royal Commission that recommended MMP (Mixed Member Proportional) representation for elections to the New Zealand Parliament. He was also formerly Professor of Political Studies at Otago and Auckland Universities.]

Effective communication and advocacy are essential but only part of the recipe for Key’s success. Equally, if not more important, are the substance and timing of the policies being communicated and advocated. Key has been deliberately cautious, implementing gradual changes over several terms of government. Since the searing experience of the 1980s and early 1990s, New Zealand political culture has turned firmly against sudden, radical change.

In this policy of gradualism, Key has been greatly assisted by his deputy and Finance Minister (the equivalent of treasurer), Bill English. English entered Parliament in 1990, in time to witness the public repudiation of blitzkrieg economic policymaking. He served time as party leader, leading the National Party to one of its defeats against Helen Clark’s Labour. After Key’s ascent to the leadership, English stayed on to become the back-room powerhouse behind the Key grin.

English is the main architect of Key’s fiscal strategy, which saw New Zealand weather the global financial crisis and set out on a path for budget surplus. He is also a keen reformer of social policy, aiming to retain a reasonable safety net while better targeting the welfare dollar, and has taken a keen interest in public service performance. Leaving Key to look after the politics and win the elections, English has been content to work on a number of medium-term policy strategies.

Mulgan looks at what Turnbull and his Government could learn from this. Then he goes back to the New Zealand experience.

The New Zealand experience points to the value of incremental change that has been thoroughly explained and justified to the voters.

This lesson should also be evident from the brief and sorry history of the Abbott government. Abbott and his treasurer, Joe, Hockey allowed themselves to be seduced into a radical crash-through approach, which involved ditching major election commitments. They never recovered from the political damage of their first budget. Present-day Australians have no more stomach than New Zealanders for sudden and unheralded reforms.

Key and English certainly seem to have learned the lessons and risks of sudden major changes in direction and policy.

And this may be where Labour is making a fundamental mistake, trying to promote major changes like control of the electricity market and proposing a Capital Gains Tax.

Is the New Zealand electorate really averse to radical change? Or is this an inaccurate perception?

Some claim that the main reason for Labour’s slide and their struggle to recover is more due to a perception of turmoil and incompetence, despite proposing policies that are largely popular (CGT) and opposing unpopular policies (like the partial asset sales).

If a strong, credible, charismatic leader lifted Labour and promised major changes would they succeed?

David Lange was sort of like that and his government was the most radical in my lifetime.

Could something similar happen again? Or is the New Zealand electorate to wary of radical change to risk something like that again?

It could be that despite what a few hard left activists think New Zealand is chugging away ok and doesn’t need or want a revolution.

Fourth milk price increase in a row

The latest milk auction prices are up again, the fourth increase in a row following a major slump that began about eighteen months ago. The latest prices increased overall by about 10%. The volume sold is also increasing.


The price movements over the past ten years:


There may be some cautious optimism in the dairy industry that a recovery is under way.

Site: GlobalDairyTrade

Open Forum – Wednesday

7 October 2015

This post is open to anyone to comment on any topic that isn’t spam, illegal or offensive. All Your NZ posts are open but this one is to encourage you to raise topics that interest you. 

Comments worth more exposure may be repeated as posts.

Your NZ is a mostly political and social issues blog but not limited to that, and views from anywhere on the political spectrum are welcome. Some basic ground rules:

  • If possible support arguments, news, points or opinions with links to sources and facts.
  • Please don’t post anything illegal, potentially defamatory or abusive.
  • Debate hard if you like but respect people’s right to have varying views and to not be personally be attacked.
  • Don’t say to a stranger online anything you wouldn’t say to their face.

Moderation will be minimal if these guidelines are followed. Should they ever be necessary any moderator edits, deletes or bans will be clearly and openly advised.

Beware the quiet ones

Sarah was in the fertilised egg business. She had several hundred young pullets and ten roosters to fertilize the eggs.

She kept records and any rooster not performing went into the soup pot and was replaced.

This took a lot of time, so she bought some tiny bells and attached them to her roosters. Each bell had a different tone, so she could tell from a distance which rooster was performing. Now, she could sit on the porch and fill out an efficiency report by just listening to the bells.

Sarah’s favourite rooster, old Butch, was a very fine specimen but, this morning she noticed old Butch’s bell hadn’t rung at all! When she went to investigate, she saw the other roosters were busy chasing pullets, bells-a-ringing, but the pullets hearing the roosters coming, would run for cover.

To Sarah’s amazement, old Butch had his bell in his beak, so it couldn’t ring. He’d sneak up on a pullet, do his job, and walk on to the next one.

Sarah was so proud of old Butch, she entered him in a Show and he became an overnight sensation among the judges.

The result was the judges not only awarded old Butch the “No Bell Peace Prize” they also awarded him the “Pulletsurprise” as well.

Clearly old Butch was a politician in the making. Who else but a politician could figure out how to win two of the most coveted awards on our planet by being the best at sneaking up on the unsuspecting populace and screwing them when they weren’t paying attention?

Vote carefully in the next election. You can’t always hear the bells.

(I don’t know the source, someone sent this to me)

Otago shooting threat – hoax or not it’s a problem

Yesterday an anonymous person posted a threat on the 4chan bulletin board of a shooting massacre at Otago University on Wednesday. It was then copied to Reddit and Facebook.


Whether this is a stupid hoax or a serious threat it is causing a lot of problems and anxiety.

What is 4chan?

4chan is a simple image-based bulletin board where anyone can post comments and share images. There are boards dedicated to a variety of topics, from Japanese animation and culture to videogames, music, and photography. Users do not need to register an account before participating in the community.

Seung-Hui Cho killed 32 people and injured 17 at Virginia Tech in 2007.

This afternoon the police put out a statement:

Otago University threat

National News

Dunedin Police are aware of a threat made via an online post that relates to the University of Otago.

Specialist staff are actively investigating the post with assistance from the High Tech Crime Group in Wellington.  Police are also working closely with the Vice-Chancellor and the University.

“Police would like to reassure University staff and students, and the wider Dunedin community, that appropriate measures are being taken in relation to the post,” says Inspector Mel Aitken, acting Area Commander: Otago Coastal.

“Police take any threat seriously while its source and authenticity is being assessed.

“Our advice at this time is to be alert and vigilant but not alarmed while our investigation is ongoing.

“Police will be maintaining a high visibility presence in the area and taking other appropriate steps which we are unable to discuss publicly.

“We are also asking those in the University area to report any suspicious behaviour immediately to Police.

“We understand that a threat of this nature could be concerning to some people. Police, University of Otago and Campus Watch staff will be available to speak with anyone who has concerns.

“Police is experienced at assessing a range of threats and we investigate any matter of concern which comes to our attention. We are also mindful of the possibility of “copy cat” threats following high profile events which occur overseas.   We will deal firmly with any individuals associated with any such copy cat threats.

“Police will communicate any further advice necessary as our investigation progresses, and we will continue to work closely with the University of Otago.” said Inspector Aitken.

So will life go on as usual in Dunedin tomorrow? There are many students and staff at Otago, some of them will have some real concerns for obvious reasons. I know people personally with close associations with the University who have concerns.

Whatever the intent and motives of the person who posted the threat the effects of something like this can be huge.

It shows that in a normally boring old backwater like Dunedin one person can cause major problems without even doing anything real.

And if the person is serious the problems increase substantially.

A state of peaceful living can be easily and quickly be overturned.

Labour’s TPPA reaction will be interesting

In July Andrew Little put out five bottom lines for them on the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement, as well as some anti-TPPA populist grizzles – Labour will not support TPP if it undermines NZ sovereignty.

The Labour Party will not support the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement unless key protections for New Zealanders are met, Opposition leader Andrew Little says.

“Labour supports free trade. However, we will not support a TPP agreement that undermines New Zealand’s sovereignty.

“A meeting of the Labour Caucus this week agreed on five key principles which will be non-negotiable bottom lines to protect New Zealand’s interests when the agreement finally makes it to Parliament.

“Labour is pro free trade, as evidenced by the China Free Trade Agreement we signed in 2008.

And the TPPA was initiated by a Clark led Labour government in 2008 with Phil Goff a major player.

“Labour will not support the TPP if it undermines New Zealand’s sovereignty. This means:
•    Pharmac must be protected
•    Corporations cannot successfully sue the Government for regulating in the public interest
•    New Zealand maintains the right to restrict sales of farm land and housing to non-resident foreigner buyers
•    The Treaty of Waitangi must be upheld
•    Meaningful gains are made for our farmers in tariff reductions and market access

“The bottom line for Labour is that New Zealand’s sovereign rights must be protected. Anything else is unacceptable.”

(Populist grizzles edited out)

At a glance on preliminary reports on what has been agreed Labour’s bottom lines may have been met enough for them to support the TPPA.

A Herald editorial points out an awkward position Labour are in after Helen Clark said it would be unthinkable for New Zealand to not be a part of such a trade agreement.

Clark’s words on trade deal badly needed

Sometimes it takes someone a little removed from the fray to put the right perspective on an issue.

New Zealanders have sorely needed such insight on the Trans-Pacific Partnership, so deeply polarised are they about its potential benefit to this country.

And there could be few people better placed to supply this than former Prime Minister Helen Clark.

Ms Clark’s statement, a rare one on a domestic issue since she became the Administrator of the UN Development Programme, emphasised how foolish that would be.

What had always haunted her as prime minister, she said, was the development of a series of trade blocs of which New Zealand was not part. That would be “unthinkable” for this country as an export-orientated, small trading nation.

“So, of course, New Zealand has to be in on the action with the TPP and go for the very best deal it can as the agreement expands beyond the original four economies to a wider regional agreement.”

Ms Clark’s statement also carried a message for her former Labour colleagues.

Curiously for a party that formerly embraced free trade, it has insisted its support for the TPP is contingent on the meeting of several “non-negotiable bottom lines”.

Labour may imagine this plays well with those people adamantly opposed to the pact.

But most importantly, as its former leader implies, it reveals a failure to to appreciate the big picture. That dictates a small trading nation cannot afford to stand aside from an agreement of such magnitude for the Asia-Pacific region.

So will Labour support the agreement they initiated or oppose it?

Annette King is being interviewed on Breakfast now and she is hedging her bets, saying the devil is in the detail and while she had a dig at secrecy and public engagement she said they would have to wait and see what is actually in the whole detail.

That may give time for Labour to work out a plausible position on the TPPA.

Trotter on TPPA and “the storm of change that is coming”

Chris Trotter seems to have rushed into uninformed eloquence over the Trans Pacific Partnership news this morning – scant details of the agreement are available but there is nothing out yet on “much that is precious” passing away, or “loss of power”, or “the second great wave of colonisation” washing over us.

The TPPA is a trade agreement between twelve countries, in general improving the opportunities for trade between al these countries.

I don’t know how increasing trade between eleven other Pacific Rim countries will result in a furious storm that will “blow us far away”.

There will be a furious storm of protest in New Zealand from some long time opponents of the TPPA and of international trade agreements – Jane Kelsey will be more devastated by this agreement than the English were over their World Cup failure – but they have been blowing so hard against the TPPA already it will be little more than repeat performances with less ammunition available.

Trotters full post:

The TPPA Deal Is Done: Reflections On The Struggles To Come.

NEW ZEALANDERS are heading into a great storm of change. Much that is precious to us will pass away. As Pakeha we have grown accustomed to being the colonisers rather than the colonised. Loss of power will be a new experience for us. As the second great wave of colonisation washes over us, our best chance of survival will be to reach out our hands to thetangata whenua – whose feet are sunk deepest in the earth of Aotearoa. In the storm of change that is coming, the strength which that position gives to Maori will make them the only solid point around which everything else twists and turns. If we, as Pakeha, do not reach out and grasp that strength, the fury of the storm will blow us far away.

Deliberate or not he centred the post in a single paragraph.

As a trading nation our future is very reliant on trade with other countries. There’s little future in the protest movement.

The anti-TPPA storm that is coming will mostly be confined to a teacup.

Key on Trans Pacific Partnership agreement

Initial reaction from John Key on the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement being reached.

New Zealand’s biggest trade deal, the TPP, has been agreed.

Embedded image permalink

Via Radio NZ:

Prime Minister John Key said the trade deal would will eliminate tariffs on 93 per cent of New Zealand’s exports to new FTA partners the United States, Japan, Canada, Mexico, and Peru.

Dairy exporters would have access to these markets through newly created quotas, in addition to tariff elimination on a number of products.

“We’re disappointed there wasn’t agreement to eliminate all dairy tariffs but overall it’s a very good deal for New Zealand,” Mr Key said in a statement.

Tariffs on all other New Zealand exports to TPP countries will be eliminated, he said, with the exception of beef exports to Japan, where tariffs will reduce significantly.

Mr Key said consumers would not pay more for subsidised medicines as a result of TPP and the Pharmac model would not change.


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