New Zealand Government Trying To Streamroller TPP Through Ratification Without Proper Scrutiny Or Public Input

from the so-much-for-that-'don't-worry,-you-can-debate-it-when-it's-finished& dept

Back in February, we noted that the TPP has been officially signed, and that the focus now moves on to ratification by each of the 12 participating countries. On this score, there’s been plenty of sound and fury in the US, including bizarre demands to re-negotiate TPP, but less coverage of what is happening elsewhere. As we noted, Canada’s ratification has ground to a halt as the new government there launches “widespread consultations.” Japan, too, won’t be ratifying TPP for a while, for reasons explained by The Mainichi site:

The government and ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP)-Komeito coalition decided to put off attempting to ratify the treaty and enact related bills as they determined that a combination of opposition party resistance and the Kyushu earthquake disaster response leaves insufficient time to deliberate the legislation. The administration of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is not planning to extend the current Diet session, which is scheduled to end on June 1. The government will instead carry the ratification and bills over to an extraordinary Diet session to be convened this autumn, to discuss them again in the House of Representatives for final approval and enactment.

The government in New Zealand, by contrast, seems to be doing everything in its power to ram through TPP as quickly as possible, with little time being given for that full public debate so frequently promised. Even the country’s MPs are being stampeded, as Radio New Zealand News reports:

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.

According to the news item, the committee was due to hear from hundreds of people who were keen finally to make their voices heard. But the government has apparently decided that it just doesn’t care what the public thinks:

The tight deadline meant the [MPs’] draft report would be written before the committee had finished hearing all the submissions.

Apparently, the New Zealand government isn’t interested in democracy, only timetables:

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.

Nor are MPs and the public the only ones being treated in a shabby way. So is the Waitangi Tribunal, which is an important commission charged with investigating and making recommendations on claims brought by the indigenous Māori people relating to actions by the New Zealand government. Because the select committee of MPs examining TPP will produce its report earlier than expected, the Waitangi Tribunal also finds itself with little time to consider the issue properly. An article on the Scoop site suggests that might be intentional:

“Why the government suddenly announced it is fast-tracking the report date for the select committee considering the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) from the end of May to 4 May is now clear.

It gives the Waitangi Tribunal three rather than seven weeks to produce its urgent report on the claim brought by prominent Maori that the Agreement violates the Crown’s obligations under the Treaty of Waitangi”, says Professor Jane Kelsey who has been advising the claimants.

What makes the situation even more worrying for New Zealanders is something Techdirt wrote about a couple of months ago: the fact that even if TPP fails, it seems that laws brought in to comply with the terms of the treaty would not be rolled back by the New Zealand government. That’s an extremely good reason to take things slowly and carefully — not to rush ahead recklessly as is currently happening.

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Comments on “New Zealand Government Trying To Streamroller TPP Through Ratification Without Proper Scrutiny Or Public Input”

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Paul Renault (profile) says:

New Zealand has a unitary government.

It might be part of the problem: without an body of what Canadians call ‘sober second thought’, the Kiwi government has no backstop to prevent it from going completely stupid.

Also: there’s a minimum number of countries which, if it’s met, puts the TPP in effect for the other countries, even if they didn’t agree to the agreement. From the Wiki page: “.. it will enter into force after ratification by at least 6 states which together have a GDP of more than 85% of the GDP of all signatories.”

How close are we to this cliff?

Chris Brand says:

Re: New Zealand has a unitary government.

No country has yet ratified TPP. If either Japan or the US decide not to ratify, it won’t come into force at all.

Of course if NZ enacts legislation making all the changes agreed to in TPP, those changes presumably happen regardless of when and whether the treaty gets ratified. That’s what’s particularly odd to me – surely by making these changes this early, they effectively get most of the downsides of TPP with none of the benefits?

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: New Zealand has a unitary government.

Downsides to the public yes, but not the interests who wrote the thing. TPP was just the excuse to push through laws they couldn’t get passed normally.

If it passes and is signed into law then great, they get what they wanted. If it gets shot down then the laws are in place anyway, so they still get what they wanted. It’s a win-win from their perspective, lose-lose from the public’s, but as has been made abundantly clear the entire time, nothing in the TPP was about serving the interests of the public.

Dave Lane (user link) says:

Re: Re: New Zealand has a unitary government.

Ultimately, our Government in NZ does not seem to be concerned with the well being of the citizens. They appear ideologically focused on benefiting large business, with the justification that this, in turn, will benefit the people. Of course, this is implicit “trickledown” economics, and it utter idiocy. Sadly, our country’s political opposition is largely in disarray, so most people see no political alternative. The current National party Government seems dead set on interpreting this lack of alternative as a mandate (which it’s not) to sell out its constituents.

Federico Litenstein (profile) says:

Considering New Zealand’s FONTERRA controls about half the milk production in the world, this really shows what the TPP is all about, its the ultimate protectionist racketeering, they are probably super in favor of no one developing new cow breeds/ GMO that improve milk quality, etc. or else FONTERRA will sue you into the world.

This is out of Snowcrash’s corportaion-states.

That One Guy (profile) says:

"Why would you think we care what you want now?"

They weren’t interested in what the public had to say when it was being put together, why would they care what the public or it’s (theoretical) representatives have to say now that it’s time to sign it?

If said reps actually had spines they’d tell the government that they either let the reps go over the thing at their pace, no matter how long that may take, or they’ll vote no on the entire thing. However I’m sure like the good little sheep that they are they’ll bleat a bit about how the review process has been sped up too much, and then sign the thing anyway, because gotta do what the boss wants after all, and they serve the government, not the people.

Adrian Cochrane (profile) says:

Re: "Why would you think we care what you want now?"

I was there supporting an activist group in these hearings, and it’s not so much they don’t have spines but they’re in on this.

They pretty much asked us “we won’t be open minded about this [TPPA], so will you?”, and think that they’ve “done a brilliant job negotiating for us”, despite the widespread opposition that seems to indicate to them we need to be “educated”.

As far as I’m concerned this means they deserve to be beaten over the head about (a treatment they actually said they objected to) and leaves me pleased I didn’t give National any more power by voting against them.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

The premise of Buy n Large was never far fetched.

Businesses have always sought to corner their markets, that is the nature of that beast.

The real problem is the improper labeling of the Cause & Effect. Example… a Lot of people conflate Capitalism with Free Market and they are different beasts.

Capitalism is private ownership of business.
Free-Market is a concept where prices and supply and demand are unfettered by government interference!

We no longer have a free market because everything is regulated. We have an Oligarchy, which government regulation has only fomented and is subsequently now protecting.

You see, I would rather deal with the corruption of a corporation instead of the corruption of a government backed corporation as we have it right now! Far too many people do not realize that most brands are actually from just a few overarching umbrella corporations.

Government regulation allows this and supports this and all I see are people asking for government to create more market corruption in a vain attempt to rid themselves of it!

Wendy Cockcroft says:

Re: Re: Re:

The trouble with your contention is that if we didn’t have government, we’d create it. The regulations and laws we have now were brought in to solve problems. That regulatory capture is a problem is due to letting corporations pretty much buy the laws they want.

Being involved in capitalism doesn’t purify you from all evil, or anything.

Coyne Tibbets (profile) says:

Untrustworthy car salesman

The car salesman doesn’t want to give you time to look under the hood, sit in the seat, or kick the tires. He demands you sign on the dotted line, right this second.

We all would know what that means, and it probably means the same in the case of TPP.

And the proper solution to an untrustworthy salesman? Walk away.

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