Opposition remains to TPP

While Jacinda Ardern is happy with progress made with the now renamed CPTPP trade agreement that continued to be negotiated parallel to the APEC, but opponents in New Zealand remain opponents. This is no surprise.

Vernon Small:  Jacinda Ardern passes Apec summit test

Now it is back on track – albeit now delayed until the next time leaders can gather – and Ardern has set New Zealand up to sign the agreement formally known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

It transmogrified into the TPP-11 when President Donald Trump pulled the United States out in favour of bilateral trade deals – where New Zealand is vanishing far down the queue.

Perhaps fearing a countdown – TPP-10, 9, 8 – and apparently at the request of Canada, it has emerged from the crystalised emphasising its comprehensiveness and progressiveness.

It might be near unpronounceable as the CPTPP (Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for the Trans-Pacific Partnership), and loom on paper like an abbreviation of something from the former Soviet Union, but apparently the rebranding will help Trudeau sell it to his voters.

Signing the deal, but with some victories, would have been one of Ardern’s key aims. Not being blamed for its failure was probably another.

Critics in New Zealand were wishing for it to fail, but to no avail.

So it is no surprise her team have pushed hard to the media both messages; that any hold-ups are not of New Zealand’s making and that there have been significant wins on investor- state disputes settlement (ISDS) clauses. A “damned sight better” than it was, Ardern stressed as her crafted sound bite.

The TPP’s opponents at home have labelled it spin and are clearly disappointed Labour’s strong rhetoric did not see it reject the deal in its entirety.

Some aspects of the ISDS clauses have been narrowed and those “suspensions” have been put on ice, pending a possible US return.

In theory, New Zealand could veto them returning if the US insisted on the resurrection of the ISDS clauses and if our Government was prepared to stare down a post-Trump US and the other 10 CPTPP nations.

The incoming Government has managed to brush some fleas off the clauses, which Ardern called “a dog”, but she will be hoping the shift against them internationally will continue and that they will stay impounded when they are reviewed in three years time.

Ardern says it is now “a damn sight better than what we had when we started” and obviously wants it to happen. Not so the TPP opponents.

RNZ: TPP critics unmoved by new negotiation wins

The Council of Trade Unions (CTU) is still opposed to the Trans Pacific Partnership, despite the government claiming significant wins at the talks at APEC.

CTU secretary Sam Huggard said the agreement was still not good enough on labour laws or transparency.

He said he was keen to talk to the government about negotiating different types of trade deals in the future.

“Certainly the New Zealand Council of Trade Unions has shown a strong interest in its opposition to the TPPA for some years now, and that will continue.

“I guess what we’d like to do though is be part of a conversation with government about what a better agenda for trade could look like for working people.”

He said the TPP was structurally biased towards the commercial sector and downplayed issues such as health, safety and human rights.

And Jane Kelsey is also unsurprisingly still opposed – there is less chance of her supporting the TPP than there is of John Key making a political comeback or Andrew Little taking back the Labour leadership from Ardern.

On Saturday when there appeared to be a hiccup in the TPP negotiations Kelsey tried to start a campaign to pressure Canadian PM Justin Trudeau to ditch the deal: Help kill TPPA today by tweeting PM Trudeau

It’s not over yet. I don’t want to jump the gun. There will be more attempts to pull it off today.

The Japanese PM Abe is now trying to pressure Canada to finalise the agreement whilst they are in Vietnam. Can you please help us in tweeting PM Trudeau, Canadian Trade Minister and the Canadian Foreign Minister.

Canada refused to sign on at the last minute due to concerns around labour rights, Indigenous rights, cultural issues and gender equality.

Asking them to maintain their position on the #TPP and put culture, indigenous rights, women’s rights, and labour rights ahead of corporate interests.

That failed. Kelsey also posted yesterday: Labour largely endorses National’s TPPA, but it’s not all over. What now?

The bad news is that the Labour government has endorsed the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement, with the suspension of a limited range of items, at the ministerial and leaders’ meetings in Da Nang, Viet Nam.

The ministerial statement released by the TPPA-11 has a catchy new branding for the deal: the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).  No easy slogans there! But isn’t it interesting how something so toxic can simply be relabelled ‘progressive’?

I suspect Kelsey would see any sort of trade deal as toxic.

So, what happens now? There is no timeline for the next meeting of the CPTPP parties. That means there is now time for the new government to conduct in-depth consultations over its proposal to adopt the deal. It also needs to commission the robust analysis that Labour called for in opposition, independent of MFAT and consultants like the NZIER who basically rubber stamped the previous shonky modelling.

They need to make sure it uses realistic models that also cover the broader economic implications, especially for jobs and income distribution. If the economics don’t stack up, as Labour said they didn’t with the original TPPA-12, then they have no basis for arguing that the CPTPP should proceed.

Their independent review also needs to include non-economic impacts on environment, health, human rights and the Treaty of Waitangi.

But before it does that work to advance a deal they previously refused to ratify, the new government needs to give priority to its proposed full and participatory review of trade policy. All existing and future negotiations must be frozen until that is done.

As far as Kelsey is concerned it needs to be her way or no way.

However both Labour and National support the CPTPP largely as it is – that’s 102 seats out of the 120 in Parliament.

Minister of Trade David Parker is speaking on RNZ now, dismissing Kelsey’s criticisms.

Concerns and opposition dominate at The Standard: The TPP11 negotiations: ISDS provisions are gone – almost

Helen Kelly on using medicinal cannabis

Helen Kelly was interviewed on The Nation this morning (it will be repeated tomorrow morning at 10 am). She has lung cancer, and she has admitted using medicinal cannabis for pain relieving.

Interview: Outgoing CTU President Helen Kelly

Helen Kelly looks back on a life spent fighting for the underdog and her own personal battle with lung cancer. She’s the first female president of the CTU is stepping down next week

. admits using cannabis oil for her cancer; but says she shouldn’t be forced to break the law.

Per Zedd in Open Forum:

I was more interested in the interview with Helen Kelly & her talk about Cannabis Oil as a possible alternative Cancer treatment. (being trialed overseas) She said:
* she currently has access to morphine for pain, but was aware that cannabis is a gentler, less toxic option. She said she intends to write to Dunne & ask that it be made available to her & others who could benefit from it.
* she said Aotearoa/NZ has a ‘small town’ attitude to new, alternative issues (like med-cannabis) & was more intent on shutting it down, rather than having a rational debate on it !
* unlike Clinton, she said “Yes, I DID inhale !”.. good onya Helen

Transcript on her use of medicinal cannabis:

 – I want to talk now about your health. Tell me —you’ve gone public with this – have you noticed that people treat you differently once they know that you are ill?

No, people have been very kind, and I come home and my garden’s been done by the pixies – I don’t know. There’s been all these amazing, beautiful outpourings of support, which have been really nice, but no, I haven’t noticed people treat me differently. People are surprised that I still look so well, I think, but, yeah, people want to talk about it, I guess. There’s been more conversations about my health than ever before, but, no, people don’t treat me differently.

 – But you’ve sort of engaged in some black humour, and even when you said you were coming on this show, someone put out a tweet that said ‘walking dead’, and you favourite that tweet.

Yeah, well, there is a bit of black humour, you know? I mean, I got a life membership of this new union the other day, and I was thinking, ‘The cheapskates – life membership,’ you know? They’re saving their money. Yeah, you have to have a bit of black humour, because otherwise you could disappear and, um, not live your life while you’re living. I mean, I feel like I’m living my life at the moment, not dying, so that’s what I’m trying to do.

 – You’ve had chemotherapy, and I think you’ve had some new immunotherapy as well, so how is all of that going for you?

It’s not going great. The immunotherapy’s a brand-new drug. It’s just being trialled, really, and they’re just trying to work out—they don’t know how it works or why it works. And I have tried it, and I– Well, it’s hard to tell, but the cancer’s progressing, which is a sign that maybe it’s not working as they hoped. So, yeah, I mean, that’s my lot, really.

 – But what about alternative treatments? Are you looking at that?

No. The only alternative stuff I’m doing is basically eating healthily and taking some various herbs and spices, but, you know, I would like to try some more alternative therapies that are coming on the market, like cannabis oil. I’m really brassed off that those sorts of remedies are not available.

Cannabis oil is now—the National Geographic is suggesting that it’s got some real curative qualities, which I’m not sure about, but it’s definitely got some healthy pain-relief qualities which I’d really like to access. I’m actually going to write to Peter Dunne, who’s got permission to give me cannabis oil, and I’m going to ask him to do that. I’ve known Peter Dunne sine I was a kid, basically.

When I was in Karori, at the teachers’ college, he was the MP there. I’ve worked with him. He knows that I’m not a drug addict —not that that should matter – but it’s for health reasons. I’ve exhausted all of the normal medicines. I could get morphine as much as I like, which is a horrible drug.

And I would like access to cannabis oil – both because I’m interested in its curative effect; actually I think there’s something in that – but particularly because it is a mild pain relief that really works on aches and pains and bones.

 – How do you know it works?

Well, just from the research that’s been developed and what you read about it. It’s a non-toxic drug. In America they’re manufacturing it to need. So if it’s pain relief you need, they can manufacture it. If it’s a kid that’s got seizures, they can manufacture it. Here you’re forced to go on the black market; you’re forced to deal in that way. You don’t know what you’re getting.

 – Have you been forced to do that? Have you given it a go yet?

Yes, I have given it a go, and I don’t like doing that, and what I would like is to be able to access it legally.

 – So you’ve taken some already?

Yeah, I’ve inhaled.

 – But now you want that rubber-stamped.

Yeah, and I’m going to write to Peter Dunne, and he’s said he can give medical exemptions, and it’s time this country woke up and realised that, actually, while we’re running short of money on drugs, and there are very, very important drugs that I can’t get on the public health system that would help me in terms of giving me a better quality of life, they’re restricting other drugs that people can take in an organised way and get some benefit from.

 – Because the thing is – treatments like this, end-of-life care – they’re big personal issues, but they’re also big political issues, aren’t they? Where do you stand in terms of terminally-ill people? Should they have the right to seek medical assistance to end their lives?

Yes, I think in the right circumstances they should be able to, and those include their ability to consent, the medical prognosis and whether their symptoms can be managed so they can have a quality of life that most people would expect.

 – Some people might find that interesting, though, because you’ve spent such a large chunk of your life fighting for vulnerable people, and a lot of the argument against legalising euthanasia is that vulnerable people need protection. So how do you–?

Well, you’re not more vulnerable than when you’re dying of a terrible illness and you’re in pain, are you? And so ‘vulnerable people need protection’ could mean that you support them to make choices about whether they want to keep on living.

So, you know, this is a little fishing village, this country. People don’t like new ideas and are challenged by people who put their hand up and say something completely out of the normal space, and they’re often shut down. But we can’t even have a decent debate in this country on the issues of things like use of cannabis oil for medicinal purposes, euthanasia.

There’s this hysterical need to shut down those debates and not have them properly, and people are even shocked, I think, that I’m so open about speaking about my illness and what’s going to happen to me. It’s time we started talking to each other about the issues in this country and supporting people who have got alternative points of view.

Source: http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/PO1510/S00179/lisa-owen-talks-to-ctu-president-helen-kelly.htm

‘Incredible shift of wealth’ – Helen Kelly

Incredible shift of rhetoric – Helen Kelly.

The latest household incomes report from the Ministry of Social Development shows that inequality is at its highest ever level as low incomes decrease while high incomes increase.

Decreasing incomes are a real issue.

But Helen Kelly of the CTU overdoes the anti government ideological rhetoric:

Govt has caused ‘incredible shift of wealth’ – CTU

The Council of Trade Unions is pointing the finger at tax rates – changed by the National-led coalition – for the rising inequality.

“What the tax swindle did when the Government cut taxes to the highest income earners was massively translate income, there was this incredible shift of wealth and these figures show that it’s true, even though at the time the Government tried to deny it,” says president of the Council of Trade Unions Helen Kelly.

Ms Kelly says ordinary working people are being ignored by the Government, and the tax system needs rebalancing.

How tax is taken and distributed will always be argued. But taking less tax from some people is not a ‘shift of wealth’. And it was hard an ‘incredible’ change.