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.
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.