Parliament resumes today

Most of those who have Christmas holidays have been back at work for a few weeks.

Members of Parliament resume today in Parliament (ok, some of them have being doing other stuff before now).

Expect the Trans Pacific Partnership to dominate.

The Government will be ramping up their defence/sell job.

Greens and NZ First will continue to oppose it outright, for different reasons.

And Labour may have to try and explain their confusing positions.

On Breakfast this morning Andrew Little repeated that Labour opposes the TPPA but won’t withdraw from it, but they will just defy the bits they don’t like.

That’s one of the worst possible approaches – it doesn’t appease those staunchly anti-TPPA, and would ruin New Zealand’s reputation as a principled and reliable country to make international agreements with.

Awaroa Beach – public, not political

Seven hectares of land, including a beach and bush, at Awaroa Inlet at the top of the South Island is for sale for $2 million.

AwaroaInlet

A Givealittle campaign has so far raised $1.2 million to by this with the intention of giving the land to the Able Tasman National Park.

Givealittle: Pristine beach in the heart of the Abel Tasman

There is a pristine piece of beach and bush in the heart of the Abel Tasman up for private sale. Together we can buy it and gift it to NZ.

Main image

We rang DOC and they said they had been interested in it, but market price was out of their ballpark. We will gift it to DOC, or a suitable trust. The bottom line for this project is that this beautiful piece of NZ is off the market permanently for all to enjoy.

Not really the time for political aspects of this or relying on ‘the government’. Even our NGO’s can’t mobilise in this timeframe. It might simply be vote with your feet before the opportunity passes.

NZ Herald reports:

Last week, Conservation Minister Maggie Barry confirmed that the beach would be added to the Abel Tasman National Park if the online campaign to buy the land succeeded.

Today, Ms Barry said she had instructed conservation officials to speak to the organisers of the campaign about the legal requirements for making the beach part of the national park.

If the target were reached, free access would be secured for the public in perpetuity.

The Department of Conservation has previously said that it is not interested in buying the spot because it is not considered a precious ecological site, but it would be open to receiving the land as a gift.

A spokesman said the department could not justify spending $2 million on 800m of beach and a section of kanuka scrub.

Sounds good. DOC can’t justify buying the land so a public campaign is raising money to buy it and gift it to New Zealand and New Zealanders. They are well on their way to raising the money.

So why the hell has Andrew Little got involved?

Taxpayer money should help buy Awaroa beach: Labour

Today, Labour leader Andrew Little said the Government should make it a Waitangi weekend to remember by agreeing to meet the remaining cost of buying the beach.

“The Prime Minister should follow the lead of thousands of Kiwis who have already stumped up half the purchase price because they see this beach as more than just any old piece of land,” Mr Little said.

“More than 11,000 people have chipped in to the campaign because they care and they see access to as much of our coastline as possible as a birthright.”

A remote beach has suddenly become popular. People are doing what they can to gift to to the public, and that is a popular campaign.

There’s no need for politicians to get involved.

This seems to be a lame attempt by Little to make himself popular by jumping on a popular cause. Does he see this as a prudent use of public money? Or is he trying to make the Government look mean if they don’t pony up with the cash.

Well done Duane Major for your initiative and a successful campaign. There’s no need for politicians to try and pinch your popularity.

 

Straddling the political divide

Some see politics as a big division between one thing or another but in reality there’s far more fairly common ground than there are extreme differences.

But today the ODT chose to call their editorial Straddling the political divide, looking ahead to the year in Parliament kicking off. However i think what they are referring to is more of a divide between what the public would like to see of their Members of Parliament and how those MPs present themselves in Parliament.

Parliament resumes tomorrow with the Prime Minister’s statement taking precedence over other business.

While official business takes centre stage tomorrow, the political year started earlier with the State of the Nation speeches by political leaders.

Mr Key can take all the time he needs as his statement has no limit in length. The debate in reply has a limit of 14 hours but the Government can, if it chooses, and it probably will, adjourn the debate and get on with other business. The year needs to start strongly.

The debate in reply begins with the Leader of the Opposition moving a no-confidence vote in the Government and moves on from there into the Opposition parties trying to score some political points against the Government in general and Mr Key in particular.

Mr Key has been untouchable for seven years and will point to the achievements of his Government as he outlines parliamentary priorities for the year ahead. In the past, Mr Key has deviated from his set speech to get a march on the Opposition, which has an advance copy of his address.

Tomorrow can really be the time for Mr Key to put aside the political agenda of trying to make his opponents look silly and provide some uplifting goals to which he aspires.

The Opposition can use their time to avoid making personal attacks and focus on providing some alternatives to what it sees as damaging policies.

All of this seems sadly unlikely and New Zealanders will again be left frustrated on the sides of the political divide.

As I said at the start, I think one of biggest divides in New Zealand politics is  not left versus right (the main parties are often called National Lite and Labour Lite) but a divide between how our Members of Parliament behave in Parliament and how the public would like them to behave.

Robust debate with opponents and challenging policies are very important aspects of a democracy.

But far too often our politicians resort to petty attacking and opposing for the sake of opposing rather than based on common sense.

The tone of our politics and of Parliament must be set from the top, by the party leaders. When did we last have a leader who led by example?

John Key has been a very successful leader but I don’t think he has yet been a great leader. He often tries to be a person of the people, quite successfully going by the polls but that’s probably as much to do with a lack of strong opponents.

Andrew Little is yet to step up as a credible leader.

The party leader I’ve been most impressed with over the annual Waitangi debacle is Winston Peters, who spoke honestly about the core of the problems. Perhaps the wily old campaigner can rise above his usually futile game playing and end his career on a respectable high.

Is Key capable of providing ‘some uplifting goals”?

Or will he continue to massage the masses with meanderings, policy-wise?

Likeable (to half the population) but with modest achievements who eventual fades away? Or can he become a leader of our times? If he aspires to the latter he will need to do more than just wave a flag.

Can Key find a way of straddling the divide between successful politician and aspirational leader? Does he want to?

Kelsey and Coates on protests

Chris Trotter has also posted Making It Stop: Taking stock of 4 February 2016, with some thoughts about the way forward at The Daily Blog.

In that he thanked anti-TPPA organisers Jane Kelsey and Barry Coates:

SOME TRIBUTES FIRST, then an apology. To Jane Kelsey and Barry Coates I can only say thank you. Demonstrations like the one I marched in yesterday don’t just happen. They are the product of hours and days and years of hard work, during which people fight not only against loneliness and fatigue, but against the insidious thought that their unceasing efforts might all be in vain.

Observing the glowing faces of Jane and Barry, as they rode down Queen Street yesterday afternoon, it was their selfless commitment to battling on, heedless of setbacks and against all odds, that brought tears to my eyes. Once again, thank you.

Both Kelsey and Coates have responded.

Barry Coates:

Thanks for the article, Chris and to TDB for the great coverage.

It’s Our Future is planning the next stages in the campaign, and we need to do it soon, because Todd McClay says their ‘selling’ of the TPPA is underway, the National Interest Statement will go into Parliament soon and their ‘roadshow’ is happening in February and March.

We have some plans underway, but would welcome ideas and debate in TDB, FB pages (TPPA Action Group, It’s Our Future, TPPA I’m Ready for Action) etc.

Our aim is to defeat the TPPA, either by not allowing it to be ratified or if that’s not possible, exiting asap. Comments also welcome to itsourfuturenz@gmail.com.

Andrew Little said yesterday Labour would not pull out of the TPPA:

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.

Jane Kelsey:

Thanks Chris, but also we also need to recognise the great work from team Auckland, who have been tireless for several years of organising and especially Chantelle who has tried to balance work, kiddies and coordination, to the hikoi from up north, especially Reuben, and those who came from around the country who have been doing great work there.

It’s the breadth of people and places that have really hit home in opposition to the TPPA and which must serve to get unequivocal statements from Labour, NZ First and Maori Party that they will not bring the agreement into force if they are part of the government if and when that time comes.

Ben pointed out: “Have you not seen Little’s equivocal statement?”

Little’s latest statement:   Little: “we won’t pull out” of TPPA

 

Little: “we won’t pull out” of TPPA

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”.

Um.

Labour have backed themselves into a corner on the TPPA and all Little can do is squirm.

 

Hooton on Labour’s lurch

In his latest NBR column Matthew Hooton claims that Labour has been taken over the far left and is effectively doomed. There’s been some fairly obvious signs of at least part of what he says.

Extreme left completes takeover of Labour

WEEKEND REVIEW Fri 5 Feb 2At least a third of Labour MPs are appalled by the sharp shift to the left. With special audio feature.

That’s behind a paywall but @bryce_edwards has tweeted some details:

“My friend Matt McCarten… introduced me to the word ‘entrism’ in which socialists dissolve their forces into labour parties.”

Hooton writes of “1930s French Trotskyists”, 1960-70s “subversion of the UK Labour Party by Militant Tendency”; says now in happened in NZ

“Labour’s lurch to the extreme left” is visible in party’s radical anti-TPP and new free education policy.

“1/3 of Labour MPs are appalled by the sharp shift to the left but the entrists in the unions and local branches are in control.”

“The moderate centre of the party… plan to launch an offensive against the party’s direction in May, they have no chance of success.”

Hooton’s moderate centre of Labour: Phil Goff, David Shearer, David Parker, Stuart Nash, Clayton Cosgrove, Peeni Henare and Kelvin Davis

After Clark left, “Labour resembled a zombie bank”;

This is to an extent a fair description. They wasted their first term under Goff and floundered through their second term switching to Shearer and then to Cunliffe.

“McCarten and his far-left friends saw an opportunity to be vulture investors”

“McCarten & his far-left friends are well on the way to reducing Labour to… one day be the junior partner in a Green-led Govt”

How did McCarten get the job as the Labour leader’s office chief of staff?

And why did Andrew Little keep him on?

Last week Hooton showed how McCarten played a part in setting up a meeting between Labour staff and Jane Kelsey, with MPs invited to attend. Soon after this Labour seemed to embrace Kelsey’s opposition to the TPPA.

Hooton is probably right, if Labour’s centrist MPs try to rebel they will struggle to succeed. Even if they got Little out of the leader’s spot they wouldn’t have the numbers to get a centrist leader. Unions hold a crucial 20% of the say in selecting Labour’s leader.

And if Hooton is right and there are strong forces in Labour to take them further left then there’s a good chance they will be reduced to minor partners in any potential left wing coalition, or at best a severely weakened major party.

The hard left continue with delusions that they can win popular support, if only a million people with little or no interest in politics suddenly think they are fantastic.

Even if Hooton is only half correct Labour are in serious trouble, and that’s relative to one of their worst elections ever in 2014.

This is bad news for New Zealand politics because there is no other party in a position to pick up their centre support.

 

Labour, protest, trade

Labour mostly kept a distance from the TPPA protests in Auckland yesterday. They have also tried to keep a distance between anti-TPPA and anti-trade. But not everyone in Labour is on the same page.

Andrew Little and Labour dabbled with the TPPA signing and protests but from a distance. They tried to portray their anti-TPPA stance as a principled stand on sovereignty in the same league as New Zealand’s anti-nuclear stance:

On this day in 1985 the then Labour Government stood up for the rights of New Zealanders. It refused entry to the USS Buchanan after the US Government would neither confirm nor deny the warship had nuclear capability. Fast forward 31 years and today the Labour Opposition is again standing up for New Zealand sovereignty which the TPPA undermines.

LabourTPPAAgainst

I’m not sure they are onto a winner with this approach, it’s just one of many mixed and muddled messages on the TPPA and is unlikely to get much traction with the TPPA protest movement, nor those who see trade agreements as a necessity.

Little also put out a media release: TPP signing highlights divisions in NZ

The stage-managed signing of the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement at a casino in Auckland today highlights the divisions National’s handling of the deal has caused in New Zealand, Opposition Leader Andrew Little says.

“The Government’s whole management of the agreement has been botched, from the total secrecy to ramming it down people’s throats.

“This has caused a deep divide, and inviting international leaders to sign it just two days before Waitangi – our national day – has added salt to that wound.

“Labour is a pro-free trade party but the TPP goes further than other agreements in undermining our democracy. We shouldn’t need a permission slip from foreign corporations to pass our own laws. That’s why Labour cannot support the agreement in its current form.

“Other countries such as Australia and Malaysia are able to ban foreigners from buying their homes. New Zealand cannot under this deal. That’s just not right.

“Open and transparent debate is crucial to a healthy democracy but the TPP process and John Key’s handling of the deal after it was signed has damaged that.

“Today’s protests are a public sign of the deep discomfort many New Zealanders feel about what is happening in this country. The Government must now seek ways to heal that wound,” Andrew Little says.

This is odd from Little, in particular “John Key’s handling of the deal after it was signed”. The TPPA was only signed yesterday, about the same time this statement seems to have been posted, so dissing Key’s post-signing handling is unjustified.

Litle also did a live chat about the TPPA on Stuff.

If Labour opposes the TPPA why wasn’t the Labour Party more involved with the anti-TPPA protest today?

We’re opposed to the TPPA in its current form because compromises to New Zealand’s sovereignty are not justified by the meagre economic gains. A number of Labour people are involved in today’s protests, including MPs who’ve spoken at rallies around the country.

But Labour involvement with the protest was low profile, especially with Labour’s front bench MPs.

Grant Robertson was at the Wellington protest but wasn’t prominent in Stuff’s: Protesters in Wellington join calls against TPPA signing

Opposition politicians and union members were among those in attendance, with several sharing their concerns about the deal.

Labour finance spokesman Grant Robertson said the TPPA was not a normal trade agreement and required New Zealand to sacrifice too much.

“This is an agreement [where] New Zealand is having to give away the right to make laws and policies in our interests, and that is wrong and we cannot accept that.”

Robertson said the issue was “far from over”, and Kiwis opposed to the deal needed to continue their protests.

“This is not over: as New Zealanders, we have to stand together [and] stand up for our rights to make laws in our own interests.”

Standard Labour talking points on the TPPA. Nothing from Robertson about it on his Facebook page.

Jacinda Ardern seems to have kept her distance from the Auckland protest, and obviously Phil Goff and David Shearer would not be seen supporting the protest.

Meka Whaitiri was there, interesting for Labour’s Associate Primary Industries Spokesperson to be against a trade agreement that will benefit primary industries.

Labour’s trade spokesperson David Clark doesn’t seem to have associated with any protests.

Phil Twyford was at the Auckland protest as this photo with Whaitiri on his Facebook page shows.

TPPATwyfordWhaitiri

Note the US branded jacket with a Labour logo
– with a ‘Corporate Traitor’ sign in the background (hat tip Iceberg)

As Spokesperson for Auckland Issues and Associate Spokesperson for Transport (Auckland and Ports) Twyford could be out of step with Auckland business and export interests there.

Sue Moroney showed her and Labour’s presence via Facebook:

TPPAMoroney

Duncan Garner spotted David Cunliffe:

Cunliffe also posted on his Facebook page with some loyal party lines:

Today, I joined thousands of Kiwis in protest against provisions in the TPPA that would undermine our sovereignty. Great to see people from all walks of life engaged and expressing their views peacefully and thoughtfully.

The New Zealand Labour Party has always stood for free trade and always will – just not at the expense of our sovereignty.

TPPACunliffe

Miriam Bookman Hi David,

I am very disappointed in seeing Labour supporters marching alongside an anti semitic banner, and that you think it appropriate to re-post this image. This is not the Labour I wish to support.

It may be hard to choose your neighbours in a protest march but choice of publicity photos can be an issue.

‪#‎TPPANoWay‬ March down Queen Street Auckland .

Taranaki would presumably cover New Plymouth where Andrew Little has stood twice for Parliament (unsuccessfully, he’s a List MP).

Taranaki-King Country Labour flew a flag for their party:

TPPATaranakiTrade1

The sign in the background appears to be welcoming, but it’s the opposite, as Taranaki-King Country Labour show in another shot.

TPPATaranakiTrade2

That may not be a problem, the Trade Ministers of Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Peru, Singapore, USA or Vietnam may never need to deal with Taranaki-King Country Labour.

 

Little on the TPPA

Andrew Little participated in a Q&A at Stuff today.

Why do you think Phill Gof and almost every previous Labour Party Leader support the TPP, why do you view the TPP differently to them?

The TPPA is a new generation trade agreement. It deliberately seeks to be more comprehensive than anything we’ve been part of before (perhaps with the exception of CER, but then CER doesn’t have the intervention in our law making processes). The strong desire for free trade can never be set off against constitutional integrity, that is a political system where the elected are responsible to the people – and only to them.

It’s a major move from cross-party support of negotiated trade agreements.

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?

That’s quite different to what Lori Wallach and Kane Kelsey were suggesting last week on their speaking tour.

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.

So Little opposes the TPPA but is not contemplating leaving it. And while “it was made clear to me that there is no more negotiation” he wants to renegotiate the bits he doesn’t like. Um…

What are the honest actual things we are giving up for the trade deal with these other countries? Eg, what’s in it for them?

The extension of copyright will enable royalties on creative work to be earned for an extended period. Although on the face of it the deal on data exclusivity for new pharmaceuticals looks unchanged, the deal was that existing appeal processes could be used to create the 8 year + exclusivity period that Big Pharma were looking for.

Remember, too, that we got virtually nothing on dairy, and tariffs on horticultural goods are reduced over a period of time.

“Virtually nothing on dairy” sounds like virtually bullshit if you look at this TPPA fact sheet.

TPP will provide New Zealand improved access into the TPP region where current access is highly restricted by high tariffs and small quotas (eg milk powders into the United States).

Key products and markets that will see tariff elimination once TPP is fully implemented include:
• A number of protein products have tariffs eliminated in Japan, US and Canada, most at entry into force.
• Tariffs on cheese will be eliminated in Japan.
• Tariffs on one of New Zealand’s highest-traded US cheese lines will be eliminated.
• Tariffs for milk powders will be eliminated in the US.
• Tariffs on infant formula will be eliminated in the US, Canada and Mexico.

Reflecting sensitivities in several TPP Parties, tariffs will not be completely eliminated on all dairy products. Instead, quota access is provided.

Tariffs savings

Japan: Tariffs are eliminated on all high-protein exports (2014 exports of NZ$217m) on entry into force. Tariffs on cheese (2014 exports of NZ$348m) are eliminated over 15 years, and on whey over up to 20 years.

United States: Tariffs are eliminated on all protein products (2014 exports of
NZ$826m) on entry into force. Exporters will also have duty-free access to WTO tariff quotas, after TPP enters into force.

Tariff quotas

New Zealand will have access to tariff quotas (TQs3) for a number of key
products in the United States, Japan, Mexico and Canada.

These TQs will provide New Zealand with new dairy market access to these important markets, including butter and cheese into the United States, and milk powders into Mexco, for example.

Malaysia has also committed to eliminate tariffs on liquid milk after a 15-year transition period, breaking new ground compared to previous FTAs. During the tariff elimination period, Malaysia will provide quota access for 2 million litres of liquid milk to all TPP Parties, with a zero in-quota tariff.

Full Q&A with Little on the TPPA signing.

Who isn’t eligible for Labour’s ‘free’ education?

I’m having trouble finding out specifically who won’t be eligible for Labours’ ‘free’ (taxpayer funded) tertiary education.

Labour’s Fact Sheet states it will be available to “to every New Zealander who has had no previous tertiary education”:

WHO IS ELIGIBLE

As workplaces become increasingly automated, many jobs will become obsolete. A school-level qualification won’t cut it in the future workforce.

The first year will be available to all new school leavers from 2019 for all NZQA approved courses, including all apprenticeships, and to every New Zealander who has had no previous tertiary education.

There will be no age limit, reflecting the increased importance of lifelong learning in the 21st Century economy. To be eligible for the second and third year, graduates will need to pass more than half their courses in the first year.

So everyone with previous ‘tertiary education’ is excluded.

I did a 9 week course at Polytech in 1973 – does that mean I can’t get free retraining for the workforce?

Does it exclude every current apprentice? Or just apprentices who have done Polytech courses (as all have had to do for some time)?

I’m genuinely interested in finding out.

From Andrew Little’s speech yesterday:

We are going to build an education system that fits the new realities of our economy.

A free education system that doesn’t stop once you leave high school.

We are entering an age where education throughout your life is more necessary than ever.

Skills, knowledge, training and retraining — they are the currency of the future of work.

I am announcing that the next Labour government will invest in three years of free training and education after high school throughout a person’s life.

That’s right.

Three years of free skills training, of apprenticeships or higher education right across your working life.

Everything you need to train and retrain as the world changes.

He’s not speaking to some of us here.

Our Working Futures Plan will be available to everyone going into education after high school from 2019. It’ll also be available to everyone who’s never studied past high school before.

Department of Statistics 2013 census data shows that out of a total of 3,376,419 people 1,587,222 had ‘no post-school qualification’.

These suggests that less than half the population would be eligible for Labour’s free education.

This policy seems mainly targeting those who haven’t left school yet.

I’ll update if if get an answer clarifying who will miss eligibility for free education.

Garner: TPP or die — why we need it

Duncan Garner doesn’t say it explicitly but the ‘die’ could be referring to the Labour Party.

TPP or die — why we need it

The political consensus on free trade is over.

After decades of supporting free trade, Labour has chosen to veer left into the bosom of New Zealand First and the Greens and oppose the TPP. It’s short-sighted and totally hypocritical, in my view. It looks like the party has had its strings pulled by anti-TPP academic Jane Kelsey.

This is a serious and controversial departure for Labour, and it may yet hurt the party among middle New Zealand voters.

Time will tell how much it hurts Labour’s support, but their mixed message stance will compete far more for Green and perhaps to an extent NZ First votes rather than the centre votes that National has been so successful holding on to.

I travelled the world with Labour and National Party ministers for years, watching them fight bloody hard for market access for our exporters. I have seen a block of New Zealand butter selling for $25 in Japan; the same with cheese. Some of these tariffs are so high our exporters are locked out.

I’ve also seen Phil Goff, Helen Clark, John Key, Mike Moore and Tim Groser invest thousands of hours over the years for this sort of deal. Rather than accuse them of selling out, I’d argue they’ve done a great job.

Garner details a number of ways he thinks Little/Labour claims about the TPP are simply wrong.

The truth is Labour has taken a massive risk opposing the TPP. I sense the silent majority understands we have to be part of it, despite the noise from the usual suspects.

Labour is divided and bleeding over the TPP. More Labour MPs want to voice their opinions in support but they’ve been silenced.

Ms Clark, Mr Key, Mr Moore, Mr Groser and David Shearer aren’t idiots. They know New Zealand has no choice but to be on board. Foreign investment is crucial into New Zealand too.

Most of the voters that effectively decide elections aren’t idiots either.

I predict the sky won’t fall in. And exporters stand to make billions more in the years ahead.

We won’t get rich buying and selling to each other; we need barriers broken and global doors open.

That’s why we must continue to fight for international trade deals — knowing there will always be a boisterous but small mob who hate the idea, no matter what the facts.

A boisterous but small mob who hate the idea of increasing international trade, like Jane Kelsey, John Minto, Martyn Bradbury – and Andrew Little.

The mainstream political consensus on free trade has been effectively trashed by Labour’s scramble to compete for far left votes.

 

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