Media “let’s not do this” on TPPA protest meeting

According to The Daily Blog there was a ‘Let’s Not Do This!” public meeting protesting the Trans-Pacific Partnership lst night in Auckland, the first in a nationwide tour by Jane Kelsey, Laila Harre and Burcu Kilic.

But the media seem to have a ‘let’s not do this’ attitude to TPPA protest these days, a big change from two years ago. I can’t find any reports.

Even The Daily Blog seems to be largely disinterested given scant reaction shown there.

Here is the only feedback on the meeting I can find, at The Standard:

At last night’s anti-TPPA-11 meeting in Auckland, Laila Harre said that there is no protection for NZ sovereignty over it’s labour/employment laws in the TPP agreement our government plans to sign on 8th March.

Harre has been researching and writing a thesis on it.

She says such agreements cannot protect our labour laws and this needs to be done through the ILO.

Under the TPPA that our government plans to sign, they could be sued for the labour regulations the government is planning to implement.

Harre and Kelsey say that if this agreement is signed, it will be used as a model for other trade agreements.

Kelsey said some in the labour caucus won’t to maintain such a model. But this model is in crisis, and we need to respectful campaign to shift the balance in the government to something more progressive.

National Day of anti-TPPA action on Sunday 4th March.

Demo in Wellington on day of signing, 8 March.

FUrther meetings around NZ before then.

The protest movement seems to be in ‘let’s not do this’ mode.

Media funkstille as far as I can see.

‘Let’s not do this’ anti-TPPA meetings begin tonight

The Government is pushing ahead with the CPTPP (Trans-Pacific Partnership). It is due to be signed by eleven countries in Chile in early March.

Opposition to the TPPA has been has been much more muted now that Labour is in Government, and even the Green’s continued opposition seems token.

But anti-trade activist Jane Kelsey is trying to keep the opposition alive with a speaking tour that begins in Auckland tonight.

The Liberal Agenda – Anti-TPPA Live stream, today 6.30pm

The Daily Blog will be live streaming the Auckland ‘Let’s not do this’ anti-TPPA meeting this Monday 6.30pm. The meeting will feature Dr Burcu Kilic, Professor Jane Kelsey and Laila Harre.

As the Government continue to push through this deeply flawed trade deal, this is our chance to push back.

Even support of this is muted, since being posted yesterday morning at The Daily Blog there are just two comments, and only on of those in support.

Harre was a Labour Party supporter last term.

Kelsey is a professor at Auckland University. It is the beginning of a new academic year – I wonder how she manages to get the time for a speaking tour. Perhaps she could tape her meeting and use that as lectures.

Government at risk of revolt against the TPP?

There were large protests against the Trans-Pacific Partnership when the then National Government passed the agreement through Parliament. Labour was vocal in it’s opposition to the TPP, and some of their MPs were actively involved in the protests.

It wasn’t clear how much of their opposition was just political opportunism and trying to make things difficult for National. It’s also not clear (to me at least) how much Labour was involved in organising the protests and supposition.

Then in November in Vietnam the now Labour Government worked on getting a revised CPTPP agreement between the eleven countries (Trump had pull the USA out).

And last month an agreement was reached, with NZ First also switching to support of Labour, but also needing National’s support. The Greens remained opposed, but their protests have been conspicuously muted.

Jane Kelsey immediately complained, but it has taken a while for other TOP opponents to start to complain.

John Minto at The Daily Blog in 100 days and the first broken promise

In their first 100 days Labour has offered us “not-National” policies but little else – unless a Woman’s Weekly Prime Minister is considered in the common good.

I’d like to be able to offer well-deserved praise to the Labour-led government but their policy offerings from their first 100 days have been uninspiring.

In each case the issues involved are central to the public interest and the new government is acting quickly and firmly to mop up the previous government’s failures.

In each case the public support was already assured for each announcement so there was no chance of serious kickback from National or its vested interests.

On the other hand, three crucial decisions of the new government will have a wider impact on the country and in each case Labour has failed the public interest in favour of vested corporate interests.

TPP:

Having done their best, before the election, to pretend they were opposed to the TPP and the secrecy around its negotiation, the new government has simply helped repackage the agreement with a few cosmetic changes to make it seem more palatable. It isn’t. It’s the same old bill of rights for foreign corporations to plunder our economy that its always been.

Minto and his fellow protesters were happy for Labour “to pretend they were opposed to the TPP” when it suited, but now they have woken up to being duped – although it had been obvious that Labour was milking as staunch opposition some fairly minor points of disagreement.

Political activist and trade unionist Elliot Crossan wants the Greens to actively oppose the CPTPP rather than whimper and roll over, to the extent that he thinks they should threaten to drag down the Government.

Against the Current: IT’S TIME FOR THE GREEN’S TO PLAY HARDBALL ON THE TPPA

Was the movement against the TPPA just protesting the National Party, or was it about a broader opposition towards control of Aotearoa by business elites no matter which party is in power? If the answer is the latter, what do we do to stop this corporate stitch-up of an agreement once and for all, now that Labour and New Zealand First have betrayed us?  

With Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and her coalition government intending to  sign the reheated agreement on March 8, Elliot Crossan says its time to play hardball.

It cannot be understated just how crucial it is to any progressive vision of Aotearoa that we stop TPPA. TheInvestor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) mechanisms were the main catalyst for concern around which the opposition movement mobilised.

But Labour and the other countries now call the agreement the Comprehensive and Progressive TPP!

LabourNew Zealand First and Green politicians turned up to our marches against the TPPA, and made political capital from voicing their concurrence with the demands of our movement.

Then-frontbencher Jacinda Ardern said of TPPA that “it is unlike any free trade agreement we’ve been party to before”, and that “it wasn’t just state to state, it was corporate to state.” The Labour Party’s minority submission in the Select Committee concluded with the statement “the TPPA will have ramifications for generations of New Zealanders.

Winston Peters went so far as to write a piece for theDominion Post entitled “With the Trans-Pacific Partnership, New Zealand is signing a blank cheque”, and opining that “being a beacon of free and fair trade is what New Zealand once claimed it stood for.

Barry Coates, who was one of the leaders of the campaign against the TPPA, briefly served as a Green MP, and was highly placed on the party’s list going into the election; the Greens were sounding alarm bells about TPPA as far back as 2010, and of the three parties in government, have the most consistent record of opposition.

The Greens have been consistently opposed, but not consistent in how actively opposed they are. A roar has become a whimper.

Now that they are in power, both Labour and New Zealand First have decided to support what campaign group It’s Our Future are calling “the Zombie TPPA”, the revived agreement minus the United States.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Trade Minister David Parker are desperately insisting that their sudden shift of stance is “nota u-turn”, while Winston Peters is claiming that “the deal is not the deal inherited, it’s different … with substantial changes with the types that the Canadians were holding out on as well, that we both have seen changes that mean we can support this deal”.

Only the Greens remain against it, with new MP and trade spokesperson Golriz Ghahraman maintaining staunch opposition and outlining how the Greens believe that disagreement and protest within government, including on the TPPA, are essential to the Green vision.

Ghahraman has voiced some opposition, but her party doesn’t seem to care much about reviving the protest movement they were an active part of.

Here lie two essential questions. Was the movement against the TPPA just protesting the National Party, or was it about a broader opposition towards control of Aotearoa by business elites no matter which party is in power?

It was both, sort of. There was staunch probably not very broad  “opposition towards control of Aotearoa by business elites”, including the Greens. But Labour used this to build broader protest against the National Party.

If the deal goes to a vote in the House, then National, ACT, Labour and New Zealand First will vote for it, with only the Greens opposed. It will pass 112 votes to 8. But the opposition to TPPA must not melt away quietly, resigned to defeat. It may be that we cannot stop the deal now, but there is no question that we have to try with all our might to bring it down.

So what  is to be done? Firstly, we need to educate people on how the “CPTPP” is no different from the deal National tried to sell us. Jane Kelsey is going on a speaking tour to this purpose this month—you can find your local meeting here.

When the TPP protests were being supported by Labour Kelsey had a speaking tour then too, and I went to her meeting in Dunedin. Now Labour minister but then Labour’s trade spokesperson David Clark attended, and spoke at an anti-TPP rally in the Octagon see Labour’s Mad McCarten Moment? and David Clark on the TPPA.

Secondly, we need to organise to hold demonstrations as big if not bigger than our protests against the original TPPA. We should not tone down our resistance when so-called progressive parties are in power—we should be angrier!

Would it be any more than Twelve Angry Activists?

Thirdly, we need to mobilise forms of protest which show the threat people power can pose to those who seek to govern us. The unions should strongly consider strike action to demonstrate the high political price any government will pay if it tries to serve the interests of profit over looking after the wellbeing of the people and planet.

Union strikes against the union supported Labour led government would be interesting.

 

Perhaps unions could threaten to withdraw their financial support of the Labour Party, and threaten to withdraw from Labour’s leadership selection arrangement.

I make my fourth argument as someone who has been a member of the Green Party for three years and served in 2017 as the Co-Convenor of the Young Greens. The Greens only have eight MPs, three of whom are Ministers outside of Cabinet—apart from the areas agreed in our Confidence and Supply agreement, the party has little to no power over government… other than the power to bring the government down in a situation desperately important enough. And I would argue that TPPA presents such a situation.

The founding document of the Greens simply cannot be implemented within the structures TPPA would entrench. This poses an existential threat which cannot be ignored to the hopes and dreams that Greens, and progressives in general, have for the future of Aotearoa.

Bringing down the government is a drastic move to make, especially so early in its term. There are few things which could necessitate such a play being made, but TPPA is, in my view, undeniably one of them. There is simply no alternative if we are serious about creating a better future.

What would the effect of the Greens withdrawing Confidence and Supply be? Given it is far too late now for Winston to make a u-turn and support National, and given the Greens would never prop up National, neither National or Labour would have the confidence of the House. This would mean Ardern would have to choose whether to concede to the Greens, or to call another election.

Withdrawing from the Confidence and Supply agreement would likely remove any doubt that the Greens would be a liability to any government and could not be trusted. The Greens must have known the likely outcome of the TPP when they chose to support Labour and NZ First into government.

What would happen in another election?

Polling taken in 2012 through 2016 indicates a broad public opposition to TPPA. An election held on the basis of the agreement would favour the Greens well, as long as the party could effectively communicate the gravity of the threat posed by the agreement, and hammer home that we are the only party who have never wavered in our stance against it. Given their u-turn on the trade deal so many of its members and supporters despise, Labour would be at risk of losing its progressive base to the Greens.

There would be a far greater risk of:

  • Green support plummeting and never recovering due to being viewed as too radical and unreliable to be in Government or in Parliament.
  • NZ First support remaining where it currently is according to the latest polls, below the threshold.
  • Labour support dropping, dragged down by anti-TOPP activists and punished by voters for trusting the Greens.
  • National would likely win a forced election and become a one-party government.

The CPTPP would be already signed so nothing would be achieved except political chaos and a strong swing rightward.

Perhaps a compromise is in order. Given the fact that Labour and New Zealand First went into the election opposing TPPA, and given that it permanently removes democratic rights from New Zealanders, the very least that the government should do would be to allow a binding referendum to take place before agreeing to the deal.

A referendum on the CPTPP could not be forced and organised before the signing next month. And it would be quite undemocratic for a small minority to force a delay and referendum when a huge majority in our representative Parliament supports it progressing.

There could not be anything more destructive to the Greens than to allow a trade deal to pass through parliament which would allow corporations to sue governments.

Yes there could – Greens self destructing, destroying the Government and putting National back in control.

Even if the Greens succeeded in turning Labour against signing the CPTPP this would likely confirm people’s concerns about the Greens being in Government, damage the Government significantly, and consign it to a single term, if it lasted that long.

I also question Crossan’s assertions about the degree  the CPTPP “would allow corporations to sue governments”, but that’s another story.

Anti-TPPA meeting tonight

Jane Kelsey is annoyed she wasn’t invited to CPTPP consultation so she could protest. She even objects to referring to it as the CPTPP.

Yesterday at The Daily Blog: URGENT ATTENTION ALL ANTI-TPPA ACTIVISTS

We discovered less than a week ago that MFAT is hosting ‘consultations’ around the country, with David Parker, this week on the TPPA-11. It appeared to be a last-minute decision to do something before Xmas, and somehow they forgot to send invitations to critics who have attended previous ‘consultations’. Presumably the business sector was given priority notice. There is no information on the MFAT website, but we know at least about these:

Dunedin: Monday 4 December, 5:15pm – 7:15pm, Otago Southland Employers Association, 16 McBride Street, South Dunedin: Register now

Auckland: Tuesday 5 December, 6.00 to 7.30pm, Europe House, Auckland University of Technology, 56 Wakefield Street – Register now

Tauranga: Wednesday 6 December, 8:45am – 10:45am: Smart Business Centre, Bay Central Shopping Centre, 65 Chapel Street Register now

Hamilton: Thursday 7 December, 4:00pm – 6:00pm, PWC Building, Level 4, 109 Ward Street Register now

The obvious reaction is WTF? There’s no urgency to do this, as the ministers are apparently not now going to meet during the Buenos Aires WTO ministerial on 10-13 December. That suggests the government has been running focus groups or polling which tells them that people are not buying their spin on the old/new TPPA-11 (please let’s NOT call it the CPTPP). Or that they still hope to get a deal they can settle the remaining four issues and sign in February or March. Consulting now would mean the government could do this, claiming it has consulted, and not try to rush something over January which would create more of an outcry. Then they will have the proper ‘consultation’, when it’s too late to do anything.

The title gives a hint that Kelsey is anti whatever shape or form a Trans Pacific trade agreement might take.

If the pending ‘consultations’ are anything more than a cosmetic box-ticking exercise the Labour-NZ First government needs to be prepared to demand real, dramatic changes or walk away.

If they aren’t, they are expecting us to be complicit in authorising their u-turn on a deal they previously said they wouldn’t ratify. And we are not about to do that.

At The Daily Blog today:  BREAKING: The Daily Blog to livestream TPPA meeting 6pm tonight

It is almost incomprehensible that a meeting about the TPPA is being held in a tiny room like Europe House at AUT.

A decision this big demands far more respect than that.

Tonight from 6pm-7.30pm The Daily Blog will live stream this incredibly important debate.

We are doing this in conjunction with Professor Jane Kelsey and It’s Our Future and we desperately require donations to cover the cost of this.

Those donations may not have been forthcoming:

Now that the organising clout of Greens and Labour are presumably not so interested in protesting the agreement now they are in Government the protest movement seems to be marginalised. I haven’t seen anything in media about this protest meeting.

 

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

Ardern’s dilemma, TPP-11 or TPP-0

One of the biggest tests for new Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and her Labour led Government is dealing with the Trans Pacific Partnership that, renegotiated after the withdrawal of the US, is referred to as TPP-11.

Labour have long insisted changes needed to be made before they would support the TPP, but the reality of trying to secure a major trade agreement that includes Japan makes it a tricky situation.

Japan has threatened that if New Zealand tries to restart negotioations then TPP-0 is likely.

RNZ report:

Ms Ardern also said the government would try to find a solution on foreign home buyers before she left for the APEC meetings next week.

She said if the government was able to find the right mechanism, it could legislate against purchases of existing properties by non-residents before the TPP trade deal is ratified.

Ms Ardern told Morning Report that would remove one of the government’s main stumbling blocks to signing the TPP, and that would then allow the government to focus on dispute settlement provisions in the trade deal.

Also:  Labour softening on TPP clauses, says critic

A critic of the Trans Pacific Partnership says Labour has softened on a provision to allow foreign investors to sue governments even though its coalition partners have spoken out about it.

New Zealand First and the Greens have questioned the controversial investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) schedule in the original TPP and the updated TPP-11 which excludes the United States.

The settlement provisions allow a corporation to take legal action against a foreign government for introducing legislation that harms their investment or profits.

But the government was missing a crucial opportunity ahead of APEC next week, said Auckland University law professor Jane Kelsey.

It was disappointing that Labour stepped back from the criticism it had that the economics of the agreement did not stack up, Professor Kelsey said.

“[The government] seems willing to proceed now with the agreement largely unchanged and indeed possibly unchanged at all if they can get through their ban on foreign investment in residential housing under the existing wording,” she said.

Kelsey has always strongly opposed the TPP.

NZH: David Parker targets trade deal and bar on house sales to overseas buyers

New Trade Minister David Parker is considering advice that an explicit ban on house sales to offshore speculators could be acceptable under the TPP trade deal if it is passed into New Zealand law before the trade deal comes into force.

TPP negotiators from 11 countries, including New Zealand, are meeting in Tokyo today to try to finalise preparations for the TPP leaders’ summit in mid November, which Jacinda Ardern will attend.

With President Donald Trump having withdrawn the US from the deal in January, the entry-into-force provision has to be changed.

Parker would not comment on whether that should be a simple majority of TPP11 countries or whether it must also include Japan – which has taken over leadership of TPP since the US withdrawal.

“We must find a solution to allow us to ban overseas buyers of existing New Zealand homes for us to proceed with TPP11,” Parker said. “We are open-minded as to where that solution sits, whether it sits within TPP or outside of TPP.”

Parker said New Zealand officials in Tokyo were also raising the issue of the Government’s opposition to Investor-State Dispute Settlement [ISDS] clauses, although his language around expectations of success on that issue was soft.

“We don’t want the ISD provisions applying to us and so we will be instructing our negotiators to use their best endeavours to fix that.”

It is clear that the issue on which there will be no compromise is the ban on house sales.

“I want to leave Apec assured that we are not trading away the right of New Zealanders to ban foreign buyers of our homes.”

“There are undoubted trade benefits in TPP11. They are obviously not nearly as significant as they were when the US was part of the deal but nonetheless a residue is still important, particularly into Japan.

“But if I was forced to trade between the principle of protecting New Zealanders’ rights to have control over who owns our houses and TPP, which I hope we will not be forced to choose between, then our promise in respect of who buys New Zealand homes will prevail,” he said.

“I am reasonably confident that we can avoid that binary choice.”

Nikkei Asian Review:  ‘TPP 11’ faces new challenges as clock ticks down

New Zealand’s demand for renegotiation could obliterate tenuous agreement

Chief negotiators from the 11 remaining TPP nations are preparing to meet outside Tokyo starting Monday, hoping to hammer out a general agreement early next month in Vietnam on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit.

But New Zealand, a leading proponent of the “TPP 11” effort, suddenly seems to be wavering. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, who took office Thursday, has pledged to renegotiate the trade deal, seeking restrictions on foreign real estate investment.

…if Ardern holds to her demand for a renegotiation, momentum toward an agreement could crumble. The 11 nations already agreed not to alter the original terms of the pact, and “if exceptions are made for New Zealand alone, the whole thing will fall apart,” said an official at Japan’s trade ministry.

Some in Tokyo advocate simply removing New Zealand from the group, a solution that would reduce the amount of milk Japan imports under the deal. But such a step would be difficult given that New Zealand is a founding member of the TPP.

“The only option is to convince them not to renegotiate,” said an official in Japan’s Cabinet Secretariat.

Ardern and Parker seem to be trying to find a way to enforce the one thing they are left trying to insist on, a ban of foreign ownership, without sinking the whole agreement.

TPP-11, TPP-10 (minus NZ), or TPP-0?

Kelsey wants a no trade ‘progressive’ future

It’s well known that Jane Kelsey has long been anti-trade agreements. Leading the campaign opposing the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement in New Zealand is just business as usual for Kelsey.

Or perhaps that should be anti-business as usual.

She has a post at The Daily Blog that targets Labour in an attempt to stoke up the  anti-neoliberalism revolution and trying to replace it with “a new, progressive future for the nation”.

The NZ Labour Party can no longer avoid the elephant in the room

It was headlined as EXCLUSIVE but, ah, a lot of blog posts are exclusive.

Do you hear the people sing. Singing the songs of angry (wo)men. It is the music of a people who will not be slaves again. When the beating of your heart echoes the beating of the drums, there is a life about to start when tomorrow comes. (Les Miserables)

But are they listening?

A cataclysmic event like the Brexit vote focuses the mind on the future and leaves political parties who are supposed to represent the people with nowhere to hide.  

The era of neoliberal globalisation is ending. People – who are also voters – have had enough of governments that work for the rich. Precarious jobs, stagnant incomes, unaffordable housing, massive household debt, stripped out safety nets, elected governments that are arrogant and unaccountable, opposition parties who are captives of their past or too cowed by fears of a collapse in business confidence to embrace demands for real change.

The drumbeat is getting louder. Policy choices that once seemed impossible and unthinkable have become very real. Political parties that claim to be progressive need to respond. Not just overseas. In Aotearoa too. And not after we ‘wait and see’. They need to take a position now.

No surprise that she wants Labour to take an anti-trade agreement position.

The New Zealand Labour Party can no longer avoid the elephant in the room: if elected, what is Labour going to do about the toxic mega-deals that have become a political liability in other democracies and are so deeply unpopular here?

They are deeply unpopular with a radical few like Kelsey. A Colmar Brunton poll on the TPPA in February:

Which of these best describe your view on the TPPA?

  • It may impact our sovereignty and I’m concerned about it 42%
  • It may impact our sovereignty but it’s not a big concern 22%
  • It won’t have much impact on our sovereignty 24%
  • Don’t know 12%

Even those who recorded “I’m concerned about it” will have ranged from being a bit concerned (at the height of TPPA protest) to those on the fringe who see it as “deeply unpopular”.

By the time of next year’s election neither the TPPA, TiSA and RCEP nor any EU FTA negotiations will be a done deal. Assuming Labour forms the next government, it will have the power and responsibility to decide whether to remain in them or take us out. So will the Greens and NZ First (especially tricky if the rumour that pro-TPPA Shane Jones may join their ranks is true).

By the time of next year’s election who knows what Labour’s vague position on the TPPA will be. It’s possible the TPPA will already have been ratified, there’s been claims that the USA may ratify after their election in November and before the new president takes over early next year.

Even without Phil Goff, Labour will doubtless hesitate to abandon the upgrade of the China FTA, which they consider an unmitigated success, or the China-led RCEP as the back door to the same. While digging us more deeply into the milk powder economy, the Chinese will be demanding more investment and procurement opportunities and protections, backed by investor-state dispute mechanisms.

It’s not just the TPPA (which includes two of the world’s biggest trading nations) Kelsey opposes, she also wants to scrap our trade agreement with China. That would have a major impact on availability and prices of goods and would jeopardise one of our biggest export markets.

By far the better option is still is not to negotiate these agreements, where they have been negotiated not to make them binding, and to begin rethinking how we engage differently at an international level.

Kelsey concludes:

New Zealand’s three main ‘opposition parties’ owe it to the majority of Kiwis who oppose the TPPA to have the political guts to state unequivocally that they intend to withdraw New Zealand from the agreement, and others of similar ilk, so that voters can align their preferences to the parties with the vision to create a new, progressive future for the nation.

There is no recent polling on who supports or opposes the TPPA so “the majority of Kiwis who oppose the TPPA” cannot be substantiated.

Although she dreams of “parties with the vision to create a new, progressive future for the nation” Kelsey makes no attempt to explain how progressive a non-trading nation would be.

Perhaps she envisages progressiveness as severely limited exports and more expensive imports.

Does anyone know if Kelsey has any vision of what a “new, progressive future for the nation” would look like?

Or does she just think that scrapping all our trade agreements will magically create utopia?

Seriously, does she have any plan apart from opposing trade?

Kelsey defends professionalism

Jane kelsey defended her professionalism in an urgent Waitangi Tribunal hearing in the Trans -Pacific Partnership Agreement.

Stuff: Professor Jane Kelsey defends herself

During questioning the Crown pointed out the academic failed to mention any positive aspects of the trade deal in her affidavits for evidence.

“So if something’s not good enough to your standards, you don’t mention these positive aspects to it,” said Crown lawyer Mike Heron.

Kelsey is well known as a long time opponent of the TPPA and of trade agreements. On trade matters she looks like an activist more than an academic.

“You’re giving evidence as an expert. Do you understand the obligations on you?”

Kelsey seemed to take that as an attack on her professional integrity.

Kelsey told the Chair Judge Michael Doogan that she was offended by the questioning.

“The concern is that somehow the Crown is suggesting that I have not acted with professional propriety in making that assessment of the Treaty exception,” she said.

“And I find that objectionable.”

“I actually think you are trying to paint an image of me as ideologically opposed to everything for the sake of it,” Kelsey had told Heron, a few minutes before the objection.

“And I’m saying to you that there is a rationale behind that.”

Some people find it objectionable that Kelsey uses her academic position to promote one side and attack the other rather than attempt to give a balanced assessment.

Heron said he was not trying to assert that. He had been pointing out that the Treaty of Waitangi provision in the trade deal was “unique”, that it “positively discriminated to Maori”, and that it was a show of “leadership” by New Zealand.

But Heron had made his point, and Kelsey amplified that point by objecting.

Does anyone not think that Kelsey is “ideologically opposed to everything” about trade deals and the TPPA?

 

Waatea 5th Estate tonight

Waatea 5th Estate kicks off at 7:01 pm tonight.

Launching 7.01pm tonight live streamed on thedailyblog.nz, waateanews.org and simulcast on Face TV Sky 83. We launch tonight with the politics, economics and sovereignty issues of the TPPA.  

I’ll add some thoughts if the streaming works.

http://www.waateanews.com/Waatea+TV.html

Can’t get it going there or at The Daily Blog. Ok, running at The Daily Blog now.

Hosted by Willie Jackson and Martyn Bradbury.

Featuring Marama Fox – Maori Party MP.

Bradbury asks Fox if Key was gutless (and more) not going to Waitangi. Cowardly now, Bradbury keeps pushing.

The Treaty clause – Jackson says “it’s not a bad clause” but Kelsey says there are many problems with it. And conceptual problems.

Fox points out the problems with the Government being responsible for defending Treaty obligations.

Kelsey – the concern is “the chilling effect”.

Fox wants distribution of wealth but that’s separate to a trade agreement.

Bradbury keeps feeding Kelsey talking points, no questioning of her at all.

At least Jackson asks her questions, but that just hands another talking point to Kelsey.

I’ve heard most of this before, having been to a Kelsey meeting.

Fox says that the whanau think there will be benefits from the TPPA, “everyone loves their stuff”.

Jackson: “the mainstream are listening to Key”.

Kelsey claims that people attack her because they are losing.

Fox chucks one back at Jackson and Bradbury damning attack politics, saying both of them have done quite a bit of attacking of the Maori Party.

To Fox: “can national take the Maori Party vote for granted” – Fox: “absolutely not”.

Kelsey doesn’t think the Maori Party can get any wins in time on the TPPA.

Kelsey “the internal dissension inside the Labour Party is going to cause them real problems”.

Kelsey is really optimistic about the groundswell and mobilisation and she thinks democracy is being reclaimed and Tino Rangatiratanga is being reasserted.

And that’s the end of it.

Jackson and Fox were ok at times, trying to explore and take different slants, but it was inevitable that Bradbury and Kelsey were so much on the same side that little of note would come from them.

Another one tomorrow night. I wonder how wide ranging that will be.

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