Trotter, the military and the TPPA

Earlier in the week Christ Trotter wrote in The Press that Josie Butler had claimed there was military protection at the Christchurch TPPA Roadshow.

Certainly, Ms Butler’s description of the Christchurch roadshow makes a strong prima facie case for concern. In her report of the event she states that: “I went to the first security check point which was at the front driveway to the [Rydges] hotel. The guards asked for my ID, and whilst I was getting it out I noticed one of the guys had an army badge pinned to his lapel, I asked him if he was military and he confirmed that all security present today were army personnel.”

Constitutionally-speaking, this claim is particularly alarming. The only circumstances in which it is justifiable for the Civil Power to call upon the assistance of the Military Power are those in which there is a demonstrable threat to life and property. Historically, the involvement of the Military has been confined to helping out during natural disasters and, extremely rarely, to the quelling of widespread public disorder – like that following the 1932 Queen Street Riot. Nothing even remotely resembling such circumstances were present last Friday in Christchurch.

Urgent efforts must be made to confirm the accuracy of Ms Butler’s claim. And if it is confirmed that the NZDF was involved in providing security for the roadshow, then questions need to be asked. First, of the Defence Minister, and second, of the Police Minister. Did Gerry Brownlee know that the Military Power had been called upon to assist the Civil Power in Christchurch? If so, at whose instigation? Does Judith Collins know why the local Police were deemed unequal to the task of preventing disorder at Rydges Hotel?

Frankly, it would be a whole lot better for New Zealand …whoever Ms Butler spoke to about his military lapel badge turns out to have been pulling her leg about the composition of the security detail. Because, if her version of events is proved correct, then New Zealand is in a world of trouble.

What sort of “trade deal” have we signed-up to, if its explanatory roadshow requires the protection of the armed forces?

This was potentially quite alarming but Butler was not an impartial witness.

Trotter has reposted Protecting The TPP at Bowalley and has added an update.

On Tuesday, 15 March the author received a call from Nick Bryant, Gerry Brownlee’s media officer. He informed him that, having checked with both the NZDF and MFAT, the Minister was able to assure him that no serving military personnel were involved with providing security at the Christchurch TPPA roadshow event.

When contacted, Josie Butler strongly reiterated her claim that the security personnel hailed from the military.

An appeal for assistance was issued over social media which quickly produced a link to a private security firm called October Protection.

According to its website:

October Protection is a Christchurch based security and protection company with branches in Auckland, Wellington, Queenstown, Dunedin and associates throughout New Zealand. We provide industry-leading hospitality security, along with VIP transport, helicopter services, secure event, travel and accommodation packages New Zealand wide ….. Many of our staff come from military, police, corrections and close protection backgrounds and their experience is diverse and extensive, providing October Protection with a vast array of specialist skills.

It would seem that both Josie Butler and the Minister were telling the truth.

Butler may have been sort telling something related to the truth, but Trotter embellished it somewhat. The TPPA Roadshow does not appear to have been protected by the armed forces as he intimated.


TPPA Roadshow today

The TPPA Roadshow will be held in Dunedin today. I’m going as an interested observer.

The Government will run a number of events on key TPP outcomes. These will be aimed at ensuring businesses are able to prepare to take advantage of new opportunities presented by TPP’s entry into force, and to provide information of interest to the wider public and other stakeholders (see next steps for more information about the timing of entry into force). These events follow the extensive public consultations carried out during TPP negotiations.

Protest action is planned in the Octagon and presumably outside the venue (just off the Octagon).

TPP Action Dunedin:

Tomorrow MFAT is having the roadshow in town. There will be picket action, petitions, factsheets on the TPPA, info on knowing your rights should you be arrested, flyers for upcoming events, stickers and a couple of speakers. There is also a talk by Tim Hazeldene at 730pm tomorrow night open to the public. (you don’t have to register lol) Come on down!‪#‎TPPAFREEZONE‬ ‪#‎TPPANOWAY‬

picket starting at around 8.45am

It will be interesting regarding both the Roadshow and the protests.

UPDATE: protests very low key, three people politely handing out material.

108 seats slowly filling, presume they match the number of registrations. Needed photo ID and registration paperwork to get in.

When David Walker got up to speak a woman played some music and said “it’s a circus” and was escorted out without incident.

Anti-TPPA clowns

Some appropriately dressed clowns tried to disrupt the first TPPA information road show in Auckland today.

NZH reports: Clowns kicked out of Trans Pacific Partnership roadshow

Four people dressed as clowns have been kicked out of the first stop of the Government’s Trans-Pacific Partnership information roadshow in Auckland.

The quartet were honking horns, blowing balloons and laughing, Newstalk ZB reported.

Protesters complained about the public not being told enough about the TPPA, now a small number of them are disrupting a public information sessions.

The road show is taking place in Auckland today, before moving on to Christchurch on Friday and Dunedin and Wellington next week.Trade Minister Todd McClay said everyone was welcome – including those strongly opposed to the trade deal. All questions would be answered.

I’m registered for Dunedin’s roadshow.

But protest and placards should be left outside, so an open and frank conversation could take place, Mr McClay said.

He denied the roadshows were an attempt at political spin – they were held for every new trade deal, including one with China.

The morning session is general information, the afternoon session is to help businesses learn how to benefit from the TPPA.

Labour Party leader Andrew Little said he doubted the road show would change Kiwis’ minds.

The public was told nothing for the seven years while it was negotiated, then the entire document was dumped into the public domain and signed, Mr Little said.

That’s disappointing piffle from Little. Perhaps he should go to the roadshow when it’s in Wellington. He might learn something useful.