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.