TPPA deal done, details to come

An agreement has been reached by the twelve countries that have been negotiating the Trans Pacific Partnership. Details will be advised later today but bits are already known.

NZ Herald: Trans Pacific Partnership a done deal

The 12 countries negotiating the Trans Pacific Partnership initiated by New Zealand have struck a deal after five years of intense negotiation.

The deal was announced just after 2 am this morning NZ time after a marathon session in Atlanta where talks on dairy continued right up to the wire, Trade Minister Tim Groser told the Herald from Atlanta this morning.

Mr Groser is very upbeat about the overall result, which will be published later today, but less so on dairy.

“You’d have to day from a New Zealand point of view, it just reflects the view that finally, against the combined might of Canada, Japan and the United States they just couldn’t bring themselves to more fully liberalise their dairy sectors.”

Dairy was always going to be difficult but presumably things won’t be worse, just not a lot better than they are now. That’s a shame but it won’t be for lack of trying by the New Zealand negotiators.

But one surprising element that should please critics is that tobacco companies will be specifically banned from taking cases under the Investor State Disputes Procedures.

And the ISDS clauses apply only to investments in New Zealand.

Investor State Disputes Procedures were a major criticism of TPP opponents.

There will be no change on the current patents for biologic medicines, although an extension on copyright by 20 years will be phased in.

Mr Groser says Pharmac’s decision-making will become more transparent and the measures will cost $4.5 million in the first year then an added $2.2 million annually.

That seems a minor cost so a fairly significant achievement, as increasing medicine costs was a major concern.

While the dairy deal was less than hoped for, he believed that within a few years, once the deal had settled in, there might be a political climate to accelerate some tariff elimination.

But there were some gains. In the United States, for example, tariffs on infant formula tariff elimination within 10 years on infant formula and on some cheese.

Where New Zealand couldn’t get elimination of tariffs, it had got quota expansion deals, although some were very modest.

On beef exports, Japan agreed to a reduction from a 38 per cent tariff to 9 per cent. That applied to all countries although Australian beef farmer, through its own FTA with Japan, had a head start.

“Outside dairy, there is only one exception and only for one market and one tariff line where we cannot say that in the long run, no matter how long it takes, we have complete free trade for everything New Zealand exports, which is quite a big statement to be able to make.”

The PR campaign by the Government is apparently ready to go. And the criticisms that have been going on for years will certainly continue.

From the Office of the US Trade Representative:  Summary of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement

Too late for a fern on black flag option?

I was a bit surprised and disappointed that a silver fern on black flag wasn’t included in the final choices for the first flag referendum. I would have seriously considered voting for it. It is already an iconic symbol of New Zealand in a wide range of ways.

There seems to be an attempt to rev up a campaign to add this flag as a sixth option for next month’s referendum. I suspect it’s too late and will struggle to get sufficient momentum.

Parliament doesn’t sit again for over another week (13, 14, 15 October are the next sitting days) and i doubt anything could happen until then at the earliest. Seems too late to me.

Matthew Hooton has been tootin’ for adding the fern on black flag, and NBR have done a poll that sort of supports it. Yesterday:

In @TheNBR today, 880000 NZ voters want plain #blackflag with #silverfern added to #nzflag referendum ballot. @johnkeypm @TrevorMallard

Exclusive in @TheNBR today, 880000 NZ voters want plain #blackflag with #silverfern added to #nzflag referendum @johnkeypm @TrevorMallard

And at NBR yesterday:


Fri 2 Oct 

Scientific poll result “dwarfs” 50,000 signatures on Red Peak petition.

Featured Comment
But they used an ‘Expert Panel’ on $640/day to pick the four flags? What could have gone wrong? If only we had some kind of forum, potentially a group of 121 people who would be elected based on a mix of local and national preference.

A paywalled website is not going to get a lot of traffic. Thats all you can see if you don’t have a subscription.

Cameron Slater gave it a plug at Whale Oil:

Will John Key rush through some more flag legislation?

John Key caved to Twitter and a dodgy 50,000 signature online petition to include “Red Peak” on the ballot for the flag referendum.

He might have to pass some more urgent legislation now after a proper scientific poll has found that 880,000 people want the All Black flag included.

He quotes from NBR giving details of the poll:

A UMR poll exclusive to NBR has revealed that more than a quarter of eligible voters want a flag with a silver fern on a black background (otherwise known as the All Blacks flag) included in the referendum on whether we should change the national ensign.

The telephone survey of a nationally representative sample of 750 New Zealanders aged 18 years or over was conducted from 24 to 27 September and asked the following question:

“As you may be aware, the Red Peak flag design has recently been added as a fifth option in the referendum on changing the flag. Do you think the plain silver fern on a black background should also be added?”

A total of 28% answered in the affirmative.

But that means nothing on it’s own. What was the whole poll result? I don’t know.

Hooton is pushing for the addition:

Retweet if you think this flag should added to ballot.

Embedded image permalink

Curiously that’s a different fern design to the one NBR used.

Does Hooton seriously think another flag option can be added at this late stage?

BREAKING: says govt won’t put on ballot til & say so

He links to the NBR poll article but most people will only get Unlock this PAID CONTENT article so won’t see the details.

Hooton must know there’s little chance of getting sufficient momentum and little chance of getting a very late flag addition.

Is he being mischievous? Is he trying to set up some future anti-flag change/anti-Key mischief?

Another thing – neither of the above silver fern on black designs were in the final forty flag options.

This is the Kyle Lockwood design that made the long list:

Silver Fern (Black & White) by Kyle Lockwood from Wellington, tagged with: Black, White, Fern, History, Nature.

The flag NBR used looks a squashed up version of the All Blacks logo – this is legally protected design.

The design Hooton is promoting was used in some flags not in the final forty and is repeated on various Wikipedia pages but I can’t find the source.

Whatever the motives behind the push for the silver fern on black flag to be added I think it’s probably futile.

I think this is the closest to fern-on-black we can get for a new flag:

The five flag choices

The flag consideration website has now updated to include Red Peak alongside the other four alternative flag designs.

five promo3

Be ready to vote

All New Zealanders enrolled to vote will be asked to take part in two referendums.

These will be postal referendums, so your voting papers will be sent in the mail. To take part you must be correctly enrolled before voting starts. Enrol, check or update your details now to make sure that you’re correctly enrolled and your papers will go to the right address. You can do this online or by calling 0800 36 76 56.

Check or update your details on the Elections website 

Referendum One

20 November – 11 December 2015

You’ll be asked to rank the five flag alternatives. Rather than picking one favourite, you’ll be ranking the flag options from your most preferred to your least preferred.

Referendum Two

3 March – 24 March 2016

You’ll be asked to choose between the current New Zealand Flag and the preferred alternative design selected in the first referendum.

The results of both referendums are binding. This means the flag with the most votes in the second referendum will be the official flag of New Zealand. There will be full instructions in your voting pack for both referendums, so you’ll get all the information you need to help you complete your voting papers.

A positive alternative to panda bashing

NZ Herald has come out in support of John Key and Wellington’s investigation into acquiring pandas.

Key’s critics miss point – pandas will be for all

The Wellington City Council is assessing the business case for joining Adelaide as the only Southern Hemisphere city with the animals. As the Minister of Tourism, John Key has an obvious interest in this. If Wellington Zoo could replicate Adelaide, where visitor numbers shot up after the pandas arrived, there are clear benefits for the city and the country.

Mr Key was, therefore, hardly out of order in suggesting the Government could help Wellington with the cost, but “it wouldn’t be a lot”. This would be no different from the Australian Government’s financial support to Adelaide for the care of its pandas.

That sounds reasonable – if a business case can be made for getting a pair of pandas then why not? It could benefit Wellington and the country.

The Government’s only other input was to have Defence Minister Gerry Brownlee deliver a proposal to bring the animals to Wellington during a visit to a panda breeding centre in Chengdu.

Criticism of this was a petty beat up. Discussing the possibility of pandas with China is good for our relations with them. If they lease us some pandas it will be good for diplomacy between the two countries.

The Prime Minister’s pursuit of a new national flag has created a rod for his own back. Now, every time he tries to advance something that does not address one of the country’s more pressing problems, he is harangued.

Key was always harangued by some. It just happens that ‘it’s a wasteful diversion doing that until all the bad stuff is fixed and everything else is perfect brigade is a diss that’s in fashion.

This week, it was the United Future leader, Peter Dunne, questioning his priorities over the prospect of pandas residing at the Wellington Zoo.

(Brownlee) was labelled a “panda pimp” by Labour leader Andrew Little, whose judgement was as errant as that of Mr Dunne.

Little has become a repetitive and petty piss-on-Key pimp.

And if Little ever becomes Prime Minister he might have his work cut out for him getting on with one of out biggest trading partners. He currently comes across as anti-anything to do with China.

Quite a bit of the media seemed to be in instant-anti mode too, something some journalists seem to be making a habit of.

For example Brian Rudman – Don’t waste takahe’s cash on panda porn

Panda porn keeps popping up on the television.

If we’ve got extra money to spend on conservation, it should be going towards the kakapo, the takahe, even the kiwi, which is disappearing at around 2 per cent a year. On average, 27 kiwis are killed by predators each week. Then there are plants such as the kauri, plagued by an incurable, die-back disease.

If the government wants to fund conservation work via the zoos we have our own urgent priorities.

But the Herald editorial has a more positive view:

Pandas would be a considerable tourist attraction, and all New Zealanders would be delighted to have them. It is quite reasonable for the Government to take an interest.

There’s nothing wrong with the Government taking an interest. If the business case for pandas doesn’t stack up then don’t get them. But if it looks good for tourism and for New Zealand-China relations then why not get pandas?

Justin Bieber on New Zealand Flag

Bieber on NZ flag: “it’s part of your history…if they tried to change my maple leaf I’d be so upset.” THIS IS SO DUMB FOR SO MANY REASONS

It does sound a bit ignorant of Canadian history.

The Canadian maple leaf flag is often given as a good reason why New Zealand should have a far more distinctive flag.

Bieber wasn’t born when the Canada changed to the maple leaf flag in 1965, but we can’t expect a singer to know recent history of his country.

This is the flag that Canada used prior to 1965:

Helen Clark strongly supports TPPA

Helen Clark has spoken strongly in favour of the Trans Pacific Partnership trade agreement, alongside John Key in New York.

That’s a bit awkward for Labour in New Zealand who have been campaigning against it.

Clark said that as an export nation it was important that New Zealand wasn’t left out of the agreement.

“What always haunts one as a New Zealand prime minister is, will there be a series of trade blocs developed that you’re not part of? Because that is unthinkable for New Zealanders, an export-oriented, small trading nation.”

“So of course New Zealand has to be in on the action with a [TPPA] and go for the very best deal it can.”



Also on the TPPA – Key is reported saying it is possible an agreement will be signed this week.

Newstalk ZB: TPP could be signed this week

New Zealand Prime Minister John Key says there’s a chance the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal could be completed this week.

Trade ministers from the 12 Pacific Rim nations, including Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the US, are meeting in Atlanta in an attempt to hash out what would become the largest trade zone deal in history.

Key was upbeat about the negotiations, but added the window for sealing an agreement this year was closing.

“Personally, I still think TPP can take place,” Key, speaking at the Asia Society in New York on Wednesday at an event hosted by former Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, said.

“I think there’s actually a chance it could get completed this week.

“There’s significant negotiations being undertaken in Atlanta.

“The window of opportunity to complete the TPP is closing, so you wouldn’t say it’s impossible to complete the deal if it doesn’t take place in Atlanta, but it does become more difficult.”

‘Keep the flag’ rallies attract small numbers

It wasn’t long ago that poor turnout at flag change consideration meetings were criticised and ridiculed by media and on social media.

Two ‘keep the flag’ rallies in the weekend failed to attract much support.

This headline sounds strong, but the attendance was very modest.

Waikato war veterans march to keep New Zealand’s current flag

When Waikato veteran Terry Findlay dies, he doesn’t want some “Mickey Mouse” flag laid across his casket.

The Te Awamutu vet was one of about 30 people to march in opposition to the referendum to change the country’s flag in Hamilton on Saturday.

There may be more veterans further back in the ‘crowd’ but I can only see one there.

Findlay, who was with a group of RSA members who travelled from Te Awamutu for the protest, wants a chance to vote for the flag in the first round of the upcoming referendum.

“We prefer the existing flag. You don’t get to vote for that in the national referendum – why don’t they include it?”

That’s been well explained. He gets his chance to vote on the current flag in the second referendum.

Findlay is a Vietnam veteran – see Apology to vets ‘long time coming’.

Protester Mischele Rhodes said keeping the existing flag would maintain the country’s sovereignty.

It has got nothing to do with sovereignty.

It was hoped there would be a bigger turnout, but sunny skies and other events on in Hamilton meant fewer turned up than expected, Rhodes said.

I doubt that pouring rain would have attracted a bigger turnout.

It must have been even sunnier in Tauranga:

Taking a stand against flag change

A Tauranga group is taking stand against the Prime Minister’s plans to change the current New Zealand Flag.

The Tauranga Referendum Awareness Public Group met down at Edgewater Fan today to discuss options about how to keep the current flag.

NZ First MP Clayton Mitchell got behind the campaign and addressed a crowd this afternoon.

Here’s a picture of the ‘crowd’:

That looks like nine people plus a NZ First MP.

Flag awareness campaign organiser Maryanne Harpur says the country needs to focus on making New Zealand a place to share with future generations.

She doesn’t think this will happen with a new flag.

“Around the town, there has been a lot of support. It’s just a matter of making sure everyone realising we can do something now.”

It looks like most people realise there’s little they can do about retaining the current flag now except doing nothing, that opportunity is in the second referendum next March.

Harpur spoke at an anti-TPPA rally in April. A month ago she subscribed to “New Zealand’s largest online free archive of protests, public meetings and interviews” which has video links like:

Rhodes (quoted from the Hamilton report) has also been active in TPPA rallies:

Colourful crowds in Hamilton march against TPP

“The government is not listening to the people. We are not going to let overseas corporates take over our sovereignty, wealth and freedoms,” protester Mischele Rhodes said.

This was Rhodes’ third rally against TPP, and by far the biggest protest in the Waikato yet, she said.

She stood for Democrats for Social Credit last year: DSC selects Mischele Rhodes for Hamilton West

Patient’s Rights Advocate Mischele Rhodes has been selected as the Democrats for Social Credit Party’s candidate for Hamilton West.

As Vice President of Patient’s Rights Advocacy Waikato, Ms Rhodes says she is “passionate about championing issues that adversely affect people”. She dedicates much of her time fighting for transparency and accountability.

“I am compelled to stand for Parliament this election because of the many international political influences in agreements such as the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA). I am opposed to the provisions in such agreements which may very likely destroy our Kiwi way of life, and take away the ability of our government to make decisions for the benefit of New Zealanders.

She has also campaigned for Fluoride Free NZ and supported the group “No Forced Vaccines”.

Five choices then two choices

We have now got five choices for a possible alternate flag.

I’ve got mixed feelings about the addition of Red Peak. Overall I think it’s a positive change.

There’s a few negatives, a major one being the precedent set of a journalist/social media campaign overriding the specified process. And it shits on people who might have wanted a different fifth flag but didn’t have the benefit of the media weight that got in behind Red Peak.

But if parliament overwhelmingly votes to add an option then it has legitimacy regardless of how it got into the frame.

And now it removes some of the many grizzles about the flag change process (although it added more, some opposers will never be happy).

The key thing is that Red Peak will only get chosen if it really does have (or gets) enough popular support and gets more votes than any of the other options.

However Red Peak hasn’t won me over. I’d vote for it over our current flag if that becomes the choice but I think that as far as a New Zealand Flag goes it’s bland and anonymous. It doesn’t look ‘New Zealand’ no matter how many ways you try and attach stories to a few coloured shapes.

I still think the silver fern is the most identifiable symbol of our country and should be on our flag. I’d hoped that a Wow! version had emerged from the process as an obvious choice and think we could move on from having the Southern Cross.

But we have the choices we have been given, all five of them.

My preference remains the Lockwood fern with black and blue segments – black is a widely recognised colour in association with New Zealand so I think that should at least be a component of our flag along with the fern.

The red/blue/fern is too similar to the old flag and isn’t a colour combination associated with new Zealand at all.

Of the six options we will have in two referendums the black/blue/silver fern is probably the only one I would buy and fly proudly – possible I would do similar with the black and white fern flag but it doesn’t look like that has a chance.

Recorded conversations sound bad for Dotcom

Conversations recorded between co-accused of Kim Dotcom sound bad for them but this is before the defence has addressed them. 3 News reported on the second day in court:

Prosecutors: Skype conversations show Dotcom guilty

Judge Nevin Dawson is hearing evidence in Auckland District Court on whether Dotcom, Mathias Ortmann, Finn Batato and Bram van der Kolk should be surrendered to US authorities.

Dubbed the “Mega Conspiracy” by the FBI, US authorities allege the four made $US175 million by facilitating and encouraging piracy on their file storage website, Megaupload, and related sites.

On Friday Christine Gordon QC, who is acting for the US, read an extensive series of Skype conversations and emails between the men, arguing they revealed they knew the business was a criminal enterprise from the start.

And here are excerpts from some of the conversations.

“The fact is when there’s no way out, Kim will also grab the last couple of millions and go on hiding mode again when that happens,” Van der Kolk was quoted as telling Ortmann.

“The likeliness of us getting in trouble for some reason is getting bigger.”

Ms Gordon read a message from Dotcom suggesting the group urgently hire a lawyer to fend off lawsuits.

Ortmann replied they should just “promise some kind of technical filtering crap and then never implement it”.

In dozens of other quotes Ms Gordon went over, Dotcom described the group as “evil”, Van der Kolk said he always lived from “piracy” and the accused acknowledged the vast majority of the content going through their site was piracy.

“If copyright holders would really know how big our business is they would surely try to do something against it,” Ortmann was quoted as saying.

More than half of the viewing traffic on the site was associated with repeat infringers and Dotcom called them “the special people”, Ms Gordon said.

“That’s the big flaw in the rewards programme: we are making profit off more than 90 per cent infringing files,” Van der Kolk told Ortmann over Skype.

Some of this doesn’t sound good but the defence is yet to respond.

Ms Gordon said the site paid bonuses to copyright infringers using the service, rather than banning them, and then presented an innocent facade while defrauding copyright holders by telling them files were being taken down – when in reality they were uploaded in other locations.

The company paid more than $3 million to uploaders, according to the FBI.

This is basically how I understood the case to be.

While it sounds bad I have no idea how this stacks up against extradition law. I do know that extradition has a lower burden of proof than a trial, it just has to show there is a case to answer.

Eighteen months ago I posted on the responsibilities and record of the Minister of Justice (then Judith Collins) on extraditions which has links to extradition information plus has links to case details.

Women got vote 122 years ago

A hundred and twenty two years ago women in New Zealand became able to vote, the first country i the world to allow this. It’s hard to imagine a democracy without universal suffrage but it had to be fought hard for at the time.

NZ History: Women and the vote

On 19 September 1893 the governor, Lord Glasgow, signed a new Electoral Act into law. As a result of this landmark legislation, New Zealand became the first self-governing country in the world in which all women had the right to vote in parliamentary elections.

In most other democracies – including Britain and the United States – women did not win the right to the vote until after the First World War. New Zealand’s world leadership in women’s suffrage became a central part of our image as a trail-blazing ‘social laboratory’.

That achievement was the result of years of effort by suffrage campaigners, led by Kate Sheppard. In 1891, 1892 and 1893 they compiled a series of massive petitions calling on Parliament to grant the vote to women. In recent years Sheppard’s contribution to New Zealand’s history has been acknowledged on the $10 note.

You can search the 1893 petition database.

My great great grandmother Keziah Norton is on sheet 253.


An interesting bit of earlier history (1865) where men qualified for voting by owning land. Arthur Gibbs is Keziah’s father.

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And from 1875 objections to qualifications for voting:

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