New Zealand's Trade Minister Admits They Keep TPP Documents Secret To Avoid 'Public Debate'

from the who's-ill-informed? dept

A couple years ago, then US Trade Representative Ron Kirk explained why the negotiating text of trade agreements like the TPP needed to be kept secret: because if the public debated it, the agreement probably wouldn't be approved. He used, as an example, a failed trade agreement where the text had been public. Beyond the "small sample size" problem of this explanation, the much more troubling aspect is the obvious question of recognizing that if public debate would kill the agreement, perhaps it's the agreement that's the problem and not the public.

Apparently, New Zealand's current Trade Minister, Tim Groser, feels similar to Kirk on this issue. During a question and answer period, he was asked why he won't share the draft texts with, say, medical professionals for input, given that the current leaks suggest it would be a disaster for public health. Groser's answer is quite telling, in that he admits that he fears the public debate, because it would be "misinformed."
Hon Phil Goff : When the Minister has the right under Trans-Pacific Partnership rules to provide negotiating texts in confidence to relevant groups outside the Government, why has he not taken advantage of that right to ensure that core groups like medical professionals are properly informed about the issues under negotiation?

Hon TIM GROSER : We are trying to make this negotiation a success, and the member is well aware that there is some quite heavy politics here and that full disclosure to certain parties is likely to lead this to go immediately into the public debate on an ill-informed basis before the deal has been done. We are very conscious of the interests of New Zealanders in protecting themselves from such legislation, and we will continue to take a very responsible approach in this negotiation.
Goff immediately tries to point out that Groser does not, in fact, answer his question, but is cut off by the Speaker of the Parliament who claims that the question has been "addressed."

Groser's response is revealing. First, he doesn't actually answer the question. Goff doesn't ask him about revealing it to the public, but merely "medical professionals." Groser is the one who leaps to the conclusion that sharing the text with medical professionals will result in public debate. Why would that be the case unless the issues in the document are so severe and so concerning to those medical professionals that they would feel the need to leak the document to the public?

Second, going back to the point concerning Ron Kirk's comment: if you're going to lose the public debate, then perhaps it's the agreement that's the problem, rather than the public debate. If these agreements are so good and important, then why can't Groser and others present that information to the public so that they're not "ill-informed." Yes, these are draft texts and not the final ones, but there are other forums in which such draft text negotiations are done publicly, and it hasn't been a problem. It's only in these international trade agreements where the final product is only revealed to the public after it's too late to make any changes or get any input from the public who is most impacted.

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  • icon
    That One Guy (profile), 30 Oct 2014 @ 11:48pm

    A point, but not the one intended I'm sure

    Hon TIM GROSER : We are trying to make this negotiation a success, and the member is well aware that there is some quite heavy politics here and that full disclosure to certain parties is likely to lead this to go immediately into the public debate on an ill-informed basis before the deal has been done.

    I agree, if the texts were made public, the initial reaction, before people really started digging into it, would likely be 'ill-informed'. You know who's to blame for that though? It's sure as hell not the public.

    Rather, the guilty parties are those intentionally keeping the texts, discussions, and any details involved in the 'negotiations' secret.

    The public is 'ill-informed' because they've been intentionally kept in the dark during the entire process. What few tid-bits have made it out have been due to leaks, not due to the 'transparency' of those involved.

    If he's worried about an 'ill-informed' reaction from the public should the texts and negotiations become public, he has only himself to blame, alongside those from other countries who have likewise kept the public ignorant the entire time.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 31 Oct 2014 @ 7:41am

      Re: A point, but not the one intended I'm sure

      He has a point in that the modern negotiate sign, rubberstamp, implement process would be far too vulnerable to discussions about intents behind wordings.
      But instead of having the process be so unbelievably gedulgd, it may be worth it to change the format of the negotiation to: Secret negotiation, public debate around wording, secret negotiation, public debate with a split of either back to negotiation or signing. But the bully doesn't want his playground to become public since he will look unbelievably bad.

      Democracy and the several different public rights aren't N/A. There is a continuum in both areas. The most serious countries on these continuums are large in political entities and have significant regulations. In this case regulation is a surrogate for the loss of control, but it is making the really undemocratic dealings harder to do without fear of oversight.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 31 Oct 2014 @ 8:14am

        Re: Re: A point, but not the one intended I'm sure

        "He has a point in that the modern negotiate sign, rubberstamp, implement process.."

        Not sure we see the current process the same way. It seems to me like the current system is more like sign, implement, rubberstamp, then (maybe) negotiate.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        tqk (profile), 31 Oct 2014 @ 10:31am

        Re: Re: A point, but not the one intended I'm sure

        All the other stuff everyone mentions are mere details. This:
        But the bully doesn't want his playground to become public since he will look unbelievably bad.


        is the crux. They've decided amongst themselves that they don't like the way society works. Even something like democracy that only gives minimal lip service to freedom is too limiting to their preferences. They want to change the game to something more to their taste.

        This is plutocracy, oligarchy, or tyranny. Freedom for us serfs is anathema, and they've decided to eliminate it. The experiment with democracy didn't work (for them), so they're ending the experiment and going back to tried and true ways of controlling all those noisy masses of indentured servants, serfs, and proles.

        I'm glad I'm too old to have to see it finally come to fruition. Enjoy the revolution, all.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 31 Oct 2014 @ 7:43am

      Re: A point, but not the one intended I'm sure

      "the member is well aware that there is some quite heavy politics here"

      This sounds almost like an admission that these negotiations aren't about the public interest but more about the politics involved.

      I don't understand how these people can continuously be so tone deaf. It's like Sandra trying to argue that forty years ago only 'legitimate businesses' participated in the debate (and now it's a bad thing that others are participating). Does she not realize this is an admission to the undemocratic nature of how politicians and regulators try to conduct these debates? I just don't understand how can these people can continuously make such tone deaf statements in public.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Uriel-238 (profile), 31 Oct 2014 @ 1:32am

    What would happen...

    ... if a nation was not allowed to even consider a trade agreement whose terms weren't public?

    I think every nation should, for the protection of its people pass such a law.

    And any nation that doesn't should be regarded as less than adequately interested in the welfare of its people.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 31 Oct 2014 @ 1:53am

      Re: What would happen...

      Oh but the terms of the agreements will be made public... once they've been passed, locked in, and are nigh impossible to revoke. Honestly, what more could you ask for? /s

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 31 Oct 2014 @ 2:50am

      Re: What would happen...

      ➡ I think every nation should, for the protection of its people pass such a law.

      ⛔ Such laws have been passed in some of the countries participating and have been ignored. This was revealed during the earlier attempts to pass ACTA. Canada I believe is one such country and some of the EU countries have this that any trade agreements have to be revealed to the public during the negotiation process.

      Needless to say those laws have been ignored.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 31 Oct 2014 @ 10:16am

      Re: What would happen...

      As long as our governments are arms of the corporation we'll see no humanity https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Corporation_%28film%29

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 31 Oct 2014 @ 1:55am

    Tim Groser may think I'm too stupid to participate in the debate, but I'm smart enough to recognize a backroom deal full of non-denial, denials, when I see one.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    techflaws (profile), 31 Oct 2014 @ 2:40am

    full disclosure to certain parties is likely to lead this to go immediately into the public debate on an ill-informed basis
    Release the texts to the public so there can be an informed debate. Problem solved.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 31 Oct 2014 @ 3:26am

    circular reasoning

    I love their circular reasoning. So they must maintain a secrecy policy to prevent misinformed debate caused by the secrecy policy.

    It's kind of like the government of California arguing they need to arm and train cops in lethal force to keep everyone safe from people like Christopher Dorner -- a cop armed and trained in lethal force.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 31 Oct 2014 @ 3:57am

    The implication is that the public simply do not know what is good for them. Like children they need to be
    protected from the world and cared for by superior wise elders like Groser. This is typical of the delusional
    worldview of the corrupt, criminal-conspirator monsters that currently control all of the anglophone governments.

    We've got a big fucking problem here. TPP is just one of the MANY symptoms.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    UnHon. Tim Groser, 31 Oct 2014 @ 4:01am

    blow me peons

    Hi dipshits. Unhon. Tim Groser here. You nitwits need to remember that I, like most politicians, am indebted to my corporate masters for getting me elected and sending me bags of cash. so what if the public is fucked over by my actions, what do I care? I've got my large pension that you fuckwads will be paying me the rest of my life, along with the bags of cash. So stick that in your pipe and smoke it, if you can afford it after you see how bad we plan on fucking you over.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 31 Oct 2014 @ 4:38am

      Re: blow me peons

      Now see, this is clearly satire, a real politician would never, and could never, be that honest about his or her motivations and views.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 31 Oct 2014 @ 5:20am

    What are these douche bags doing to the citizens, must be horrible because like a child they want to hide it.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Benjamin Wade, 31 Oct 2014 @ 6:16am

    There are citizen groups working to stop the TPP

    The TPP is a Corporate Global Government land grab designed to benefit corporations while ignoring the the rights of the people of the countries involved using "Corporate Tribunals." These Corporate Tribunals make decisions that override the laws of the nation, and in the US violate the constitution. Corporations have already been using similar laws to sue the US, Canada, and Germany for "lost profits" in ways that allow them to violate the Constitution (in the US) There are groups working to stop the abuses of the TPP. Please support them. One is http://www.killacta.org/ another is the EFF at https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2014/07/dozens-organizations-and-businesses-protest-tpp-copyright-prop osals PLEASE SUPPORT THESE ORGANIZATIONS! DON"T JUST TALK - DO!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Lord Binky, 31 Oct 2014 @ 6:30am

    It takes a lot less effort to convince people of a good idea than it takes to explain a bad idea.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    John Fenderson (profile), 31 Oct 2014 @ 8:59am

    Shorter Tim Groser

    We can't tell the public what we're doing because getting public agreement is hard work.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      tqk (profile), 31 Oct 2014 @ 10:19am

      Re: Shorter Tim Groser

      We can't tell the public what we're doing because getting public agreement is hard work.

      Shorter: We can't tell the public what we're doing because the public wouldn't agree.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 31 Oct 2014 @ 9:24am

    "the member is well aware that there is some quite heavy politics here"

    They spelt "petting" wrong. Must still be thinking with their "member."

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 31 Oct 2014 @ 9:39am

    people tend not to like it when their leaders that are supposed to represent everyone's best interests sell their constituents as indentured servants to the highest bidder, so that said "leaders" can profit off of the sale

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Alien Rebel (profile), 31 Oct 2014 @ 11:10am

    choice

    Our psychopathic overlords have a choice- keep the public ill-informed and asleep for now while they run out the string on all this deal making / profit taking; or, waiting until after their schemes are implemented to try convincing the torch and pitchfork-carrying public that they're all just ill-informed and to please put away the buckets of boiling tar. But I suppose that answers the question of why we're seeing the construction of a new and improved police state.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    David E.H. Smith, 31 Oct 2014 @ 12:05pm

    “But, WILL CHINA SUPPORT PUTIN (BRICS, et al); The WHITE KNIGHT”?

    TPP, CETA, C-CIT SHAREHOLDERS & NON Shareholders AWAIT
    SUPREME COURT of CANADA'S, et al, FINDINGS, et al to PROCEED.

    It will be good for, not only the NON shareholders of the enterprises that will be generated by the on-going global "cooperation" of corporate treaties, agreements, partnerships, et al, including the China - Canada Investment Treaty, The Trans Pacific Partnership, the EU - Canada CETA,
    but,
    for the potential shareholders, as well,
    who are quite interested to know if President Xi Jinping (China) will support Russia as a co-member of B.R.I.C.S. when President Putin uses his potential role as "The White Knight".

    And, while President Putin's potential support as “The WHITE KNIGHT” in the development of the CETAgreement, et al, litigation below can dramatically off-set the hundreds of billions of dollars due to the present & future sanctions leveled by American led, et al, corporations & financial institutions via their governments' signing their global corporate economic treaties/”arrangements”,
    and the potential for making trillions of dollars for the Russian economy over the next 30 - 40 years & beyond,
    are the citizens (SHAREHOLDERS & NON shareholders) of Germany & JAPAN just being prudent in wanting to wait for the outcome of:
    1) the submission to The SUPREME COURT of CANADA & the highest court in Germany, et al, to make their findings regarding “The Submission”:
    "The SHAREHOLDERS & Corporations of AMERICA, et al
    v
    the harmless Canadian NON shareholders, et al"?

    and
    2) "The MERKEL (Chanc. Germ.) Letter; To Sue, or, Be Sued”?
    (see; davidehsmith.wordpress.com )

    Have the federal representatives of the nations that are the potential signatories of CETA, TPP, et al, willingly provided the NON shareholders of China, Canada, Europe, the Trans Pacific nations, et al, with the aforementioned information? Are the federal representatives, et al, depriving the NON shareholders of Canada, et al, of the due diligence information that enables the family of the NON shareholders of Canada, et al, to make informed decisions regarding their financial planning?

    And, would a reasonable person conclude by a preponderance of the evidence, &/or, beyond a reasonable doubt, that these documents, et al, demonstrate that the SHAREHOLDERS of AMERICA, CANADA , the EU & Trans Pacific nations, et al, really do not care which NON shareholders pay them the punitive penalties, etc., by way of their secret (“Death-Star Chamber”) TRIBUNALS, as long as its not the SHAREHOLDERS who pay & not their corporations regardless of which country the corporations:
    1) operating from,
    2) maintain their headquarters,
    3) use to do their cyber banking, accounting, "taxation", etc.
    &
    4) et al?

    And, re; the CHINA – Canada Investment Treaty, is it understandable why the “coveted” Hong Kong investor & his associates are “concerned” with the aforementioned findings of The SUPREME COURT of CANADA, et al, & the effects of the findings, et al, on the EU, AMERICA, the Trans Pacific nations, et al, treaties with CHINA, et al?

    In regard to arms sales; how about the sale of arms (non nuclear) in general in regard to the "trade" treaties that are continuing to be secretly negotiated and how will the Tribunals, both; B.R.I.C.S. & non BRICS, adjudicate, decide & penalize the NON SHAREHOLDERS for the sale of legitimate, semi- legitimate & "illegal" sales of arms within the signatories nations & the those of others, &/or, unaligned? Of particular, interest is China, which does have an treaty with Canada, which puts China "at odds" with other arms manufacturing & nuclear powers that it (China) does not have any "arrangements" with.
    Are these types of questions that your politicians & the corporate lobbyists calls "forget-me-nots" ("Buyer Beware") that will be (maybe) worked out after the fast tracked signatures are obtained?

    And, what do you think is the significance of the line in The Submission to The Supreme Court of Canada “...And, lest one forgets that the revelation of the present perilous international treaties/”arrangements” began with the regard for the rights of Native Canadians as per the Treaties/”arrangements” that corporate Canada & the Government of Canada have “foisted” upon Native Canadians...”? What are the various ways that this line will cost the SHAREHOLDERS, et al?

    On the other hand, it may be worth repeating yet again,
    "What the TREATY of VERSAILLES was to the 20th century PALES in COMPARISON to the TPP, CETA, C-CIT, NAFTA, et al, in the 21st".

    And, how will YOUR submission to YOUR highest court IMPROVE upon The Submission that is presently before The Supreme Court of Canada?

    David E.H. Smith
    - Researcher
    - “Qui tam..."
    ******
    For more Information & Questions re; The Relationship between Human (Nature) Rights & Economics by way of the C-CI Treaty, the CET Agreement, TPP, et al, and The WAD Accord
    & List of RECENT ARTICLES, LETTERS & NOTIFICATIONS by DEHS,
    see; davidehsmith.wordpress.com

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Zonker, 31 Oct 2014 @ 12:18pm

    Corporate Board Meeting:

    "So, the agreement before us here today is that the employees shall be paid only in company scrip redeemable only at the company store where all products be sold at a 300% markup. All employees shall live in company housing and all creative works made by employees on company property shall belong exclusively to the company to be licensed for maximum corporate profit. All in favor?"

    "What about the employees? Shouldn't we show this agreement to them and ask their opinion before we vote on it?"

    "Of course not! We are trying to make this negotiation a success, and the member is well aware that there is some quite heavy politics here and that full disclosure to certain parties is likely to lead this to go immediately into the public debate on an ill-informed basis before the deal has been done. We are very conscious of the interests of the employees in protecting themselves from such an agreement, and we will continue to take a very responsible approach in this negotiation. If the public debated it, the agreement probably wouldn't be approved."

    "Oh, all right. All in favor?"

    "Aye!"

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Dave, 1 Nov 2014 @ 11:15am

    Need to know basis

    Perish the thought that the public might actually get to know what their government is up to. After all, it's only the silly, ill-informed public that put them there in the first place.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    chilling farts, 1 Nov 2014 @ 2:34pm

    Private lobby

    Our trade viceminister was worse: He said that they has the TPP secret to avoid "private interest" over it.

    Who said it was Edgar Vasquez, who is chief of TPP negotiations from peru.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 1 Nov 2014 @ 3:08pm

    Democracy is a buzzword.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    GEMont (profile), 3 Nov 2014 @ 11:34pm

    When the Merchant is King, we all have a price on our heads.

    ...and once again, the citizens of the world debated their dilemma and ruminated and argued over what might be done to prevent their leaders from bringing about the inevitable slaughter and ruin of the world, while the billionaires masquerading as world leaders, led the world to slaughter and ruin... once again.

    Nice eulogy eh! :)

    I thought it might be a little large for a tombstone...
    But then I realized that tombstone was gonna be huge!!

    ---

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Haricophile, 8 Nov 2014 @ 6:24pm

    no comment

    Regime of the "global village" is a ploutocraty.
    No comment.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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