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.

Leave a comment


  1. David

     /  6th October 2015

    some of the commentary has been ridiculous, Duncan Garner had an elderly caller yesterday who was convinced that if we fall foul of the ISDR then the IMF and the World Bank would take over the country…Garner let it go which is nothing short of outrageous behavior from Duncan. Ally Mau has been just as bad letting all sorts of mad statements stand which somewhat undermines the Mediaworks position as a news based organization.

    • Budgieboy

       /  6th October 2015

      According to the TNS New Zealand Commercial Radio Survey Garner is losing listeners hand over fist. Relentlessly negative and anti potitican he’ll let anyone say anything if it suits his narrative, sometimes it’s blantenly obvious that he knows an obscure remark has been made but he just thanks the caller for the call, go against his narrative and he’ll rip your throat out.

      He’s done something I never thought he could do and that’s that he’s got me appreciating Danny Watson on ZB (seriously) and after that Larry Williams leaves him for dead.

      Apologies for being slightly off post but David made a good point.

      • Mike C

         /  6th October 2015


        Nobody has ever been banned from Georges blog for going off topic, let alone received a warning 🙂

        I agree about Duncan Garner being biased. When he first arrived at RadioLive, I stopped listening to him after a few weeks because he didn’t allow listeners to phone in and have their say on his subject matter, and his afternoon show was basically like listening to a monologue, with only his personal opinion being portrayed. So it is no wonder he has lost heaps of listeners in that time slot.

  2. Brown

     /  6th October 2015

    There’s an unfortunate gap in the afternoon between 3 and 4 when Garner comes on and the alternative is Watson. I feel there’s nothing worse than Watson so the radio goes off. I find Mau not too bad as long as you can keep her away from gay issues which see her become one eyed in an instant.

    • bald eagle

       /  6th October 2015

      Agree with you about Mau – I always wondered how she would handle Willie 🙂

  3. 4077th

     /  6th October 2015

    Annett King already frothing at the mouth. Says “she” is all for free trade but what about all the dirty deals we made to get it? What is the matter with these people? They struggle for relevance and never pickup on the positive..ergo always negative. They should have used the Clark endorsement and taken some of the accolades. Will have sured up their position in the wider sense. Seems like gotcha politics is their one and ONLY agenda forget about trying to win back 30% of the voting sector. Idiots!

    • traveller

       /  6th October 2015

      You’ve used the word “positive” 4077th. That’s it in a nutshell. Labour have had a succession of doom and gloom merchants and that dour Scrooge doesn’t wash with Kiwis. We want our leaders to reflect our “punch above our weight, Godzone, love our sport and. pull yourself up by the bootstraps” attitude. That’s who we are. We’re not whining, moaning, more for me, inward looking xenophobic types. Labour are anti anything except throwing money to be downtown on God knows what and they demonstrate no vision, no plan, nothing aspirational and no positivity.
      The anti TPP is just the same old 78 record, round and round it goes scratching interminably. They don’t get us, they don’t reflect the values of anyone but a few raging activists. Putting McCarten in there was stupid fox and henhouse politicking.

  4. I’m gonna love seeing Labour tie themselves in knots over this by voting against their own initiative and going against the advice of Saint Helen.

  5. tealeaves

     /  6th October 2015

    They won’t. They’ll vote for it, and since National doesn’t want a fourth term, they’ll be the government that administers it. Which is good, because Key is so dirty he’d gloss over the details and that’s where it would turn into something deeply ugly. Labour can cope with details, so they’ll be able to administer it with some proceedural control.


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