Flogging a dead TPPA?

On his trip to new York John Key has been promoting the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement. Is the TPPA a dead horse?

Today’s Herald editorial still thinks the TPPA is worthwhile – Key plays a strong geopolitical card on the TPP

John Key stated it as plainly as he dared in New York yesterday: failure to ratify the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement would be a “massive lost opportunity” for the United States, he said, “because in the end is that vacuum isn’t filled by the United States, it will be filled by somebody else”.

He could have gone further and suggested the “somebody else” could be China. Talks involving China, India, Japan, South Korea, the Asean members and Australia and New Zealand are under way on a project called the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership.

Key had no need to spell out the implications to his New York audience, the Council for Foreign Relations, but his real targets are in Washington. Some of them – but not all – are seeking re-election for Senate and House seats. Some will be defeated at the elections on November 8, but all of them retain their seats until the next Congress is sworn in late in January. That “lame duck” period is a chance for legislators to do what is right, though it may not be popular.

Americans are well accustomed to their representatives doing this and they do not protest vehemently enough for the practice to become politically untenable. It almost seems to have tacit approval. The American public and the incoming Congress appear to accept that contentious things need to be done when the Constitution provides the opportunity.

Both presidential candidates say they want to renegotiate the TPP. Hillary Clinton will know, if Donald Trump does not, how long it took to get the TPP to the point of agreement and how hard it was. It would do the partners no harm to indicate to American voters that a renegotiation cannot be taken for granted.

The TPP has not come from nothing. It grew out of the World Trade Organisation’s stalled Doha round, which itself resulted from collapse of communism and almost universal realisation that competitive markets are the source of prosperity. If the US turns inward and protectionist under its next President, trading countries will look elsewhere for global progress.

Is Key wistfully whistling in the Washington wind?

What he or the Herald say will hardly sway the  USA.

Is the TPPA a lame duck or will the lame duck period givbe it another gasp of breath?

Obama to push TPP

President Obama has said that he will try to push the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement through Congress, despite both presidential candidates publicly strongly opposing the trade deal.

Newshub: Obama set for ‘full-fledged’ TPP push

US President Barack Obama is launching “a full-fledged, full-throated effort” to push the Trans-Pacific Partnership mega trade deal through Congress in the final lame duck months of his presidency.

The TPP would be the final landmark piece of Mr Obama’s presidency.

“This will be a full-fledged, full-throated effort,” Mr Obama’s deputy US trade representative, Robert Holleyman, told an event this week at Atlanta’s Commerce Club.

The Atlanta event reflected the huge divide between TPP supporters and critics in the US.

David Abney, the chief executive of the world’s largest package delivery company UPS, talked up what he believed would be the TPP’s ability to cut red tape for US small and mid-sized businesses entering new Asia-Pacific markets.

As Mr Abney spoke, UPS drivers and union representatives supporting them protested outside the Commerce Club.

“We’re opposed to the TPP because we feel like it’s going to undermine American workers’ standard of living,” Teamsters Local 728 political director Eric Robertson told theAtlanta Journal-Constitution.

Mr Obama has put Congress on notice he will be sending a TPP bill their way.

The White House has also organised 30 pro-TPP events to support Democrat and Republican members of Congress who favour the legislation.

It will be difficult for Obama. He hasn’t much time left in his second term, and has to get the TPP through in the ‘lame duck’ period after the election and before he leaves the White House in January.

TPP a victim of US election?

It’s looking increasingly likely that the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement may be a victim of the presidential campaign in the US.

If the US doesn’t ratify the TPPA it fails.

Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are both speaking strongly against the TPP in their campaign rhetoric.

President Obama’s hopes of slipping it through ratification in the lame duck session between the election on November 8 and the inauguration of the incoming president on 20 January 2017.

Patrick Gower has been attending both the Republican and Democrat conventions and writes: Opinion: The TPP is dead and gone

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal is dead and gone and it is thanks to Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders.

Trump is dead against it.

Sanders is dead against it.

I’ve actually been really surprised at the level of visceral opposition towards the TPP from both sides here.

Each time both Trump and Sanders have bagged the TPP, there have been huge roars from the Republican and Democratic Convention crowds. 

And the power of both the Trump and Bernie movements mean it would be political suicide for United States politicians to go against them right now and ratify the TPP.

Powerful sectors of both sides of politics are against it – and you never, ever hear anything from its supporters in either the Republicans or the Democrats.

The TPP has been burned on the political firestorm that is raging here.

Big numbers of Republicans are dead against the TPP.

And I can tell you that huge numbers of Democrats are against the TPP.

If Hillary wins, she won’t want to deepen the divisions with her party by passing it.

As for a Trump win, well – say no more.

TPP supporters will bang on about all the possible machinations but the simple fact is this: The politics in America is against the TPP – and politics always wins in the end.

Maybe an ‘adjusted’ deal will re-emerge but the TPP as we know it is dead and gone.

Perhaps the other eleven countries will have to do it without the US. It was always going to be difficult getting it ratified there due to huge commercial lobbying interests trying to protect their markets and subsidies.

But that will take a lot of time, if there is any appetite to restart negotiations.

It looks like the TPPA could be a dead duck, blasted by a double barreled election shootout.

Democrats softening on TPPA?

Some predicted that US presidential campaign rhetoric in opposition to the Trans Pacific Partnership may not match post election realities.

There’s a sign that the Democrats may be not as staunchly against it as Hillary Clinton has previously appeared as they get closer to having to put together a policy package.

As usual money often speaks the loudest in the US.

New York Times:  Bernie Sanders Allies Lose a Fight Over Democrats’ Stance on Trade

Allies of Hillary Clinton and President Obama on Saturday beat back an effort by the Bernie Sanders campaign to have the Democratic Party officially oppose a congressional vote on the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal.

At a sometimes-raucous meeting in Orlando, Fla., of the party’s platform committee, which is drawing up policy goals for the Democratic National Convention this month, lieutenants of Mr. Sanders argued that the trade deal would lead to a loss of jobs and competitive wages and that it would ultimately harm American workers and labor unions.

Given that Mrs. Clinton, the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, has said she opposes the trade deal, the Sanders allies argued that her supporters on the committee should agree to try to block any congressional vote to ratify the agreement.

But opposing a vote on the partnership would line up the party against Mr. Obama, who is championing the deal and who endorsed Mrs. Clinton last month. Her allies on the platform committee regarded the Sanders effort as a rebuke to the president and merely a symbolic move because the committee cannot dictate to Congress.

Politics can be complicated in the US.


It bears repeating that Sanders didn’t win all of the platform battles. Indeed, a cynical way to interpret the Clinton campaign’s stance is that it has given Sanders the language he demanded on some issues while maintaining the flexibility that it wants, and that its big donors want, in other key areas, such as trade and energy.

Over the weekend, the platform committee rejected language that would have condemned the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership and opposed its being put to a vote in Congress.

The committee approved milder language that doesn’t single out the T.P.P. but, rather, simply says that all free-trade deals should include standards that protect U.S. workers.

“Maintaining the flexibility that it wants, and that its big donors want, in other key areas, such as trade and energy.”

The overwhelming influence of money in the US may rule on the TPPA outcome.

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?

Little: Backing the Kiwi dream

Andrew Little on defying the TPPA, and on changing the Government, and on Labour Party priorities, in a regional conference speech in Rotorua:

This weekend in #Waihi, Labour’s ‘Region 2’ gathered with other electorates of the Bay, greater Waikato and Hauraki to plan and debate the best ways in which we can ensure kiwis like YOU have access to opportunity – not just the 1%.

Here are a few sharp punches from Andrew’s speech, highlighting how the #TPPA won’t stand in the way of Labour doing right by New Zealanders in 2017.

Video on Facebook.


We don’t have to defy the TPPA. But we will. Labour will defy the TPPA…if that is what we have to do.

So these things are achievable if you’ve got a political will to do it.

We can fix those problems if we’ve got a mind to do it. And we do, because the truth is that some of these things are getting urgent now.

The idea that night after night we see families struggling, putting their kids to bed in cars, living in garages, that’s not acceptable any more.

And we should put a line under it and say “If you haven’t got a solution to that problem, if you’re not prepared to give it urgency,   if you’re not prepared to be serious about it and fix it, you don’t deserve to be in Government. You shouldn’t be in Government.”

“If you’re not going to fix the health system, and make sure the elderly can get the care that they need, you can’t be in Government, because you’re not looking after Kiwis.”

“And if you’re not going to look after the education system, and make it the basis on which our children can thrive and prosper and succeed in life,  you can’t be in Government, because you’re not lookin’ after the future generation of Kiwis who need it.”

Those are the questions we face. Those are the challenges we’ve got, and I can tell you with the Labour Party, those things are our priority. They have been for the last hundred years.

They have been since we formed a government eighteen years ago, and they are right now, because they are the things about strengthening the communities, and building a nation.

And we need more of that, so I’m saying to you now, for the next eighteen months, cast around.  Have a look closely at what you’re being told.

Push back when you’re being told we can’t do that.

Don’t accept the excuse that it’s someone else’s fault. I’m going to have to say the National Party, they’ve spent the last eight years blaming the Labour Government. It’s eight years on, for heaven’s sake.

It’s time to take responsibility.

The reality is, they’ve got no answer. They’ve got no vision. They are not about building our nation and building the people in it, and giving chance, and opportunity, and a sense of the future, and a sense of hope.

We are, and we’re going to go storming around New Zealand telling everybody that.

And next year, 2017, we’ll have the chance to put in power a party that is about building New Zealand and restoring that Kiwi dream.





Peters, UKIP, the Commonwealth and fools

There’s no fool like an old fool whom thinks trading salvation means rejecting the European Union, USA, Japan and China?

This week Winston Peters is in the UK and gave a speech to the House of Lords. It was noted in news reports that Peters spoke about supporting ‘Brexit’ – an exit of Britain from the European Union.

Something I missed – or it wasn’t reported – is that the event that Peters spoke at was hosted by the UK Independence Party’s leader in the House of Lords and UKIP’s Commonwealth spokesperson, and Peters was introduced by UKIP leader Nigel Farage.


Winston Peters and Nigel Farage

Does Peters want New Zealand to try and wind the clock back to the 1950-60s where our trade  was overwhelmingly reliant on the UK? Until they discarded us and other Commonwealth countries and ex-colonies of the UK and associated themselves more closely with Europe, ending up in a growing European Union.

Peters featured in a UKIP article: Britain can trade around the world post-Brexit

Mr Peters said, “The Commonwealth…  is now a dynamic powerhouse, crossing every time zone and trading session in the world.  It covers nearly 30 million square kilometres, almost a quarter of the World’s land area.  It’s members can be found in every single inhabited continent.  Together, we have a population of over 2.3 billion, nearly a third of the world’s population.  In 2014 the Commonwealth produced GDP of $10.45 trillion, a massive 17% of gross world product.  Seen that way the Commonwealth could be a colossus.”

“It has a diversity of markets the EU can only dream of, from first world economies to emerging markets with huge growth potential.  Part of the choice the UK faces is of a Europe, divided and indebted, or trade in the developed and emerging economies of The Commonwealth.  By 2050 the population of The Commonwealth will have increased by 30%, whilst the EU will have dropped by 2%.  GDP growth in the Eurozone has amounted to just 0.7% in recent years, Commonwealth GDP grew by 5%.”

He made it absolutely clear that a future out of the EU and trading with the world was something to be aspired to, “Anyone who thinks that the economy of the nation that once created the largest empire in history will be suddenly laid to ruin upon leaving the EU is greatly mistaken, or having left will be friendless, doesn’t understand history or realise when push comes to shove how deep Commonwealth bonds are.

He wants a revival of the Commonwealth of Nations (British Commonwealth)?

“A future out of the EU and trading with the world” – the European Union, with or without the UK, comprises a significant proportion of world trade.

One of New Zealand’s biggest trading partners is Australia, also in the Commonwealth. We are currently trying to improve trade with Canada via the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which Peters opposes.

There are 53 countries in the Commonwealth, also including:

  • India
  • Pakistan
  • Nigeria
  • South Africa
  • Bangladesh
  • Tuvalu

We are already doing increasing amounts of trade with India and working towards a trade agreement.

But the European is one of the world’s biggest trading blocs, accounting for about 16.5% of the the world’s imports and exports. New Zealand is currently trying to get closer to that – see NZ – EU trade deal takes giant step.

Peters seems to be anti-China, and the other two biggest trading nations, the US and Japan, are part of the TPP that Peters wants to walk away from.

Dreaming of a return to the good old days (before Peters was middle aged) seems out of step with the world of trade in the 21st century.

From Peters’ speech:

“The British people stand on the cusp of an exciting future. It will not be easy to achieve that future.  But if there is one nation that can do it, it is the British”.

Peters wants to severely limit our trading options and bank on a country that turned it’s back on us fifty years ago?

The world is a far bigger place than the 28 EU member states.  Britain forgot that once, at it’s present cost.  Some of us believe that you won’t make that mistake again.

Afterall it was a Briton who centuries ago wrote this call to action:

“There comes a tide in the affairs of men, which if taken at the flood, leads on to fortune.”

Grabbing opportunities when they arise is something any Government should look to do, but it hardly makes sense to take a punt on an old world colonist while shunning the biggest trade opportunities currently available.

It was actually William Shakespeare (or whoever penned under that name) who wrote that for the character Brutus talking to Cassius in Julius Caesar.

How far back in time does Peters want us to go? Shakespearian England? The Roman Empire?

‘Yay the Commonwealth, stuff the rest’ may attract a few voters to UKIP and NZ First but as a modern trading strategy it seems nuts.

Anyone can quote some Shakespeare.

“A fool thinks himself to be wise, but a wise man knows himself to be a fool.”

If Peters wants to go back in time perhaps he could consider a proverb:

There’s no fool like an old fool.

TPPA – committee report

The Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Committee report on the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement has been released.


The Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Committee has conducted the international treaty examination of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement and recommends that the House take note of its report.


New Zealand Labour Party minority view

The first Labour Government pushed for market access improvements in Europe, and the Party has continued to push for free trade since. Yet, the Labour Party wishes to protest in the strongest terms at the Government’s failure to effectively represent the long-term interests of New Zealand in the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations. As it stands, we cannot support the ratification of the-Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement.


The Labour Party is the party of free trade. As a party, we have always sought to deliver the benefits of free trade to New Zealand, and to reduce the barriers to growth for our firms and workforce. In doing so, we have been mindful of the constitutional convention that governments should not seek to bind the hands of future governments, unless there is a clear and bipartisan agreement to do so. The Labour Party has sought to deliver economic agreements with other countries that promote and support economic growth, and deliver new and improved working opportunities for our residents.

The failure of the Government to preserve New Zealand’s ability to legislate in its future interest, and the inadequacy of modelling supplied to the committee means that we cannot be confident that the TPPA agreement put before the committee meets these objectives. The best available analysis suggests that it is likely to lead to a reduction in the number of jobs.

The proposed gains are marginal, if they even exist. It remains to wonder whether with better political leadership, an agreement with more clearly demonstrated benefits to New Zealand might have been offered up to the committee for consideration.

Had the Government through the five year negotiating period adopted a model of rigorous consultation with opposition parties, academia, unions, and business―as has been done in New Zealand in the past―a clearer and more informed negotiating mandate might have been gathered.

Equally, and in response to the questions such consultation inevitably raises, the Government might have commissioned modelling and developed policy responses to address concerns about employment, income distribution, and public health impacts. Sadly this was not done. Certainly, in those other TPPA countries where fuller and wider consultation was undertaken, public backlash to the agreement finally reached appears more muted.

The TPPA will have ramifications for generations of New Zealanders. For their sake, we should not so lightly enter into an agreement which may exacerbate long-term challenges for our economy, workforce, and society.

Green Party of Aotearoa/New Zealand minority view

The Green Party opposes ratification of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement. We call on the Government to

  •  delay introduction of the domestic legislation for the Treaty
  •  agree to an urgent debate on this report as part of the treaty examination stage
  •  hold a non-binding public referendum on ratification of the Treaty in its current form.

The Green Party is critical of both the substantive content of the TPP and the procedure for its multilateral negotiation and its ratification in New Zealand. In summary, they are:


Domestic legislation to implement the TPP should be deferred in favour of a more open and honest debate on these fundamental and critical issues of political governance, economic wellbeing, and sustainability.

There is a need to improve the negotiating procedure for 21st-century economic integration agreements, and there is a need for a model agreement to be circulated and scrutinised under public transparency.

The Green Party plans to undertake such an initiative, so that future agreements, such as the European–New Zealand agreement, can benefit.

New Zealand First Party minority view

New Zealand First insists that trade is a core ingredient in growing wealth and prosperity in New Zealand. We say that the TPP is not a trade agreement. As numerous analysis has shown, coupled with several independent New Zealand articles, the TPP will serve only to grow income inequality in New Zealand.

The TPP is a sideshow to the WTO and we should be supporting the far better and greater opportunities arising out of that, including the recent breakthrough in the current Doha Round on elimination of agricultural subsidies. Why sign a TPP agreement that would protect those subsidies to the detriment of our exporters?


New Zealand First, in consideration of all of the submissions, given the time frame made available, and given the political climate in our prospective partner nations, recommends that this Government not ratify this trade agreement. We recommend the pursuit of a trade deal that would actually benefit small-to-medium enterprise in New Zealand and most certainly our agricultural sector.


TPPA timeframe change “an attack on democracy”

MPs considering submissions on the TPPA have had the available time slashed from a month to five days. This is bad process and appalling PR from the Government on a very contentious issue.

The select committee public submission process is an important part of our democratic system, despite efforts by parties and activist groups to manipulate it.

It’s a common tactic to try and flood submissions with a particular stance and then to claim that it’s a measure of public opposition. Numbers of submissions are not a measure of opinion.

But the Government has poked a stick into a wasp nest by slashing the time Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Select Committee members have to consider submissions on the TPPA.

Radio NZ reports: New TPP timeframe an ‘attack on democracy’

MPs have been given just five days to consider hundreds of submissions on the controversial TPP trade deal after the timeframe was drastically cut from four weeks.

The select committee was originally give a month to write its report and present it back to Parliament.

The Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Select Committee had been hearing submissions on the TPP from hundreds of people across the country and that will continue until the end of the month.

National MP Mark Mitchell, chair of the Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Select Committee, strongly rejects the view that the timeframe undermines the democratic process and says there will be plenty of time for robust debate.

But a last minute slashing of time to consider submissions is an awful look – what did key say about National’s need to avoid appearing arrogant this term?

Opposition MPs are understandably up in arms.

But opposition members on the committee say they were told yesterday the government wanted to cut down the time they had to analyse the submissions, so the legislation could get through by the end of the year.

They said they were stunned by the news and felt angry and frustrated.

Labour MP David Clark…

…said he wouldn’t be surprised if the people who made submissions felt the same way.

“Submitters will be horrified if they learnt that the committee is curtailing a process of consideration of the very serious issues they have raised,” he said.

“It seems very reasonable to expect them to be frustrated and to question whether there is integrity in the process at all.”

It’s fair to question motives and integrity.

Green MP Kennedy Graham…

…said he and other opposition MPs on the committee had thought the original timeframe of a month to write the report was too short.

“It’s just a slap of indifference and dismissal of some very sincere, very capable and hard-working New Zealand people,” he said.

“It shows it up for what it is – which is essentially a roadshow with a predetermined end.”

It gives opponents plenty of cause to ridicule the consultation process as a sham.

New Zealand First MP Fletcher Tabuteau…

…said what made it worse was that the tight deadline meant the draft report would be written before the committee had finished hearing all the submissions.

The TPP has been a farcical process from the beginning, he said.

“The whole negotiation had been undertaken in secret to start with. The submission time has been months in contrast to the six years it has to write [the TPP deal],” Mr Tabuteau said.

“This is clearly an attack on democracy – it’s unacceptable.”

It looks unacceptable to me.

This is likely to stir up the TPPA opponents yet again and give them a good reason to stir up protests again.

Is this just arrogant abuse of the democratic process, or is the Government deliberately stirring up anti-TPPA protest?

Whether the latter is their intent or not it is likely to be the outcome.

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.