Andrew Little has caused further consternation and frustration on the left by restating that Labour won’t pull out of the TPPA, despite having sort of having said they oppose it.
Yesterday on RadioLive: Labour won’t pull out of the TPP – Little.
Mark Sainsbury: The thing that sparked all this off of course, the TPPA. Can I just get something straight from you, you’re opposed to us signing it. Does that mean if you become Prime Minister, Labour was in power, you would either pull out of the treaty as it exists, or would refuse to ratify it?
Andrew Little: Ah no, well hold on, we signed it long ago, it was a clerical exercise, it didn’t create the agreement, the agreement was already created.
Created is odd terminology. It wasn’t signed long ago, it was signed by the Trade Minister’s from all twelve participating countries in Auckland the day before.
Andrew Little: Secondly ratification will happen over the next two years. Our Government has the numbers to do the New Zealand ratification regardless.
Mark Sainsbury: In two years time you could be Prime Minister Andrew Little.
Andrew Little: And so the question then is would we pull out of it, if it’s ratified, all the countries have ratified it would we pull out of it?
We won’t, and the reason why I am making the objection that I am making and the Labour Party is making, and indeed others are about provisions in it that cut across our sovereignty, is that I want to go back and say right there’s things in here that are wrong.
Things in here that we just shouldn’t have, and we will kick up bobsy-die about and put pressure back the way and that’s why New Zealanders are expressing a view about it it’s so important…
Mark Sainsbury: Hang on, it sounds like you’re trying to have a bob each way on this Andrew Little, on one hand you’re saying this is wrong, there’s all sorts of problems with it and things it does cover and flaws in the system, you’re against it. Will you vote against it in the House?
Andrew Little: Yeah we’ve already said um, if there’s, the legi, I mean, let’s go, we don’t get to vote on the TPPA. That’s done and dusted. There’s then legislation that covers some aspects of it that has to come to the House.
Anything in the legislation that cuts across sovereign rights we will oppose. Things that are, that support genuine free trade because we are a free trade party, we will support.
The train has left the station. So what we’re talking about now is how do we protect and preserve New Zealand’s interests under the TPP and that’s what we’re talking about.
Mark Sainsbury: But hang on, you can’t be a lion in opposition, a lamb in Government can you? I mean and it sounds like, while we’re in opposition this is dreadful, this Government sold us out, but if we’re in power we’d do the same thing.
Andrew Little: The Government sold us out on those parts of the TPPA that cut across sovereign rights in New Zealand, the rights for us to make our laws without undue influence and pressure from other interests. That’s what we’re talking about.
Yes there are other aspects that will help some exporters. There’s, you know, we’ve never shied away from that, um but lets be very clear.
The train left the station last October when Tim Groser signed off the agreement in Atlanta with the other Ministers, and what we’re dealing with no is what do we do to get ourselves in ship shape so that when Labour is next in Government and we’re dealing with other countries and big corporates from overseas breathing down our neck they won’t be surprised when we turn around and say ah-ah, this isn’t what New Zealanders want, we’ve opposed this, we’re opposed to it in principle and we’re going to fight against it and we’re going to protect New Zealand’s rights, but we’re not going to cut across um, they um you know our free trade credentials.
Mark Sainsbury: So you’re opposed to it in principle but not in practice.
Andrew Little: Well if you want to break it down to um, if you’re desperate to have that there’s only one one you know ah one answer to this it’s either completely wrong or completely right. A six thousand agreement isn’t going to be like that.
Um and a free trade a free trade agreement that has some aspects of free trade but then has other things that have absolutely nothing to do with free trade but cut across New Zealand’s rights, I mean it doesn’t break down that simply.
So what I am talking about and what Labour is talking about is doing those things that are going to allow us to protect and preserve ourselves against the worst aspect of the TPPA that are nothing to do with free trade.
Mark Sainsbury: So you want to fix it, but what I’m just saying, what you’re telling us today here is despite your public opposition to it right now, if Labour was in power, you are Prime Minister, you would not pull New Zealand out of that agreement.
Andrew Little: Pulling out would would be um is way more difficult than it is to kind of roll off the tongue and lets pull out.
So no, we won’t pull out, but what we will do is fight tooth and nail to stop those things that are undermining New Zealanders’ democratic rights. Cause we have too. Cause we stood for that for decades and we’ll continue to do that.
That’s quite a muddled interview with only vague assurances of protecting rights but stating Labour won’t pull out of the TPPA.
Trying to sound tough while conceding there’s not actually much if anything Labour would actually do.
The clearest thing he said was ‘um’.
Add to this a couple of Little’s responses to a Q & A at Stuff on Thursday:
In what situations do you see New Zealand utilizing the exit clause?
Should the agreement be ratified over the next two years, any question of leaving the TPPA would be a huge call. It is not something that I am contemplating. That’s why I’ve been saying I want the next Labour government to be in a position with a mandate from New Zealanders to re-address the things that cut across our citizens’ rights.
That says much the same thing.
Do you believe the TPP will be amended by the US and become even more draconian for NZ to push it through congress?
Talking to US administration officials and politicians at the end of last year, it was made clear to me that there is no more negotiation, and that the deal is as it is now. Under the US fast track law, there is no scope for individual representatives and senators to pull apart specific clauses and chapters. But in reality, with American politics who would know?
So while Little claims a Labour led government would try and negotiate changes he says here “there is no more negotiation”.
Labour have backed themselves into a corner on the TPPA and all Little can do is squirm.