One more time, Prime Minister, read the Cabinet Manual: Parliament does not get to ratify the TPPA!


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‘How many times do the Prime Minister and other members of the government have to be hauled up for misrepresenting the role of Parliament in making treaties, especially the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement’, asked Professor Jane Kelsey from the University of Auckland.

On NewstalkZB this morning (April 3) John Key
John Key: “mis-statement” or “willfully misrepresenting”
claimed, yet again, that ‘In the end, this thing has to go through our Parliament has to be ratified by our Parliament and has to bear scrutiny and I believe is in the best interests of New Zealand.’


‘The Prime Minister is either woefully ignorant of the fundamental process of treaty making, as set out in the Cabinet Manual, or he is willfully misrepresenting the process to the New Zealand public’, Kelsey said.

‘Parliament’s role in treaty making is largely symbolic. It has no power to decide whether or not the TPPA should be signed or ratified and no ability to change its terms TPPA or require it to be renegotiated.’ 

‘The select committee process is a farcical exercise because its members know they cannot change the treaty.’ 

‘At most, Parliament could refuse to pass legislation that is required to bring a particular law into compliance with the TPPA. But the government will have plenty of non-legislative ways to achieve compliance,’ according to Kelsey.

Key’s right hand man, Stephen Joyce, has already had to correct a similar mis-statement in the House. 

Chester Borrows apparently made a similar misrepresentation when speaking to protesters against the TPPA in Whanganui on Saturday.

‘If this is what the National government believes should be the case, it should change the constitutional rules to make Parliament responsible for international treaties.’ 

Both the ACT Party’s Ken Shirley and the Green Party’s Keith Locke have attempted to do so through private bills. National and Labour blocked both of them.

‘Until the government makes Parliament responsible for overseeing, signing and then ratifying treaties, they should be honest with the New Zealand public: the Executive, in other words the Cabinet, decides what to negotiate, instructs the officials, signs the treaty and ratifies it’, Kelsey said.


For an explanation of the treaty making process see:


The Prime Minister’s comments can be accessed here

Stephen Joyce’s correction can be accessed here

Who's Running the Show? and in Whose Interests ?


The Campaign Against Foreign Control 
and 
Anti Bases Campaign 
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Election Year Speaking Tour


Putting People at the centre of the Economy - from Dunedin to Kaitaia, and many places in-between 
> People’s Rights Before Corporate Profit
> Public Service Not Private Profit 
> An Independent Foreign Policy 
> No Unjust Secret Treaties

These topics include 

  • transnational corporations’ tax avoidance
  • corporate welfare
  • asset sales
  • spying abuses by the GCSB/NSA 
  • the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) 
  • Five Eyes
  • plus plenty more 

These are among the most important issues facing the country. 

They underlie everything else that the people of this country are concerned about. 

Any campaign, electoral or otherwise, that doesn’t include them is missing the point. 

We need an independent Aotearoa based on policies of economic, military and political self-reliance, using Aotearoa’s resources for the benefit of the people of Aotearoa. 

This country needs People Power to let the world know that Aotearoa is not for sale!

The full itinerary is at: www.tinyurl.com/cafcatour

Out of the TPPA frying pan, into the EU-FTA fire?

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‘The National government is striking a brick wall in getting major concessions on dairy from the US and Japan in the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA). It will have an equal or greater battle in its plans for a free trade agreement with the European Union’, said Professor Jane Kelsey from the University of Auckland, in response to reports that such negotiations are possible.

 
The EU has consistently protected its agriculture sector at the multilateral level during the Uruguay and the Doha rounds of multilateral negotiations. That position has carried through in its various bilateral agreements.

‘Some of the EU’s standard demands will conflict directly with the proposed TPPA’ Professor Kelsey says.

‘In particular, the Europeans require their agreements to contain strong protections for geographical indicators, such as the traditional names of European cheeses like camembert and parmesan. New Zealand, Australia and the US have been pushing for the opposite rules in the TPPA.’

According to Professor Kelsey negotiations with the Europeans would, like the TPPA, range far beyond ‘free trade’.

Europe’s pharmaceutical companies are just as aggressive as US Big Pharma in the US.

The European services lobby will also push for sweeping rules that lock in deregulatory frameworks for banking and other financial services, privatised water concessions, public private partnerships, telecommunications, and much more.

‘These are all areas where New Zealand needs a free hand to remedy the problems of light handed and risk tolerant regulation of recent decades’, Professor Kelsey observed.

‘On the positive side of the ledger, the EU has refused to agree to US demands for a similar level of secrecy in the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership to that which applies for the TPPA.'

The Europeans have already agreed to release the draft investment chapter for public comment before it is tabled in the negotiations. The European Parliament can be expected to subject any talks to intensive scrutiny.

‘Equally significant are the announcements from France and Germany this month that they will not accept investor-state dispute settlement in any agreement with the US. That is further proof that the tide is turning on this particularly iniquitous feature of recent commercial treaties.' 

However, a similar approach in an EU-NZ agreement would not protect New Zealand from investor claims by European firms, according to Professor Kelsey.  'Many European their firms span the Atlantic and could use a backdoor route to sue the New Zealand government under the TPPA. ’


The TPPA negotiations with the US and ten other countries have already taken four years without any resolution. Professor Kelsey predicts that any negotiation with the EU would drag on interminably.

Don't Forget Saturday 
meeting places, times, local contacts and facebook event pages 

Key's Double Talk On Land Sales Disturbing

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John Key is reported (Press, 18/3/14) as telling iwi leader Sir Mark Solomon and the public different things concerning NZ land sales to China.

Solomon was told the Government is encouraging China to lease rather than buy NZ land, whilst publicly Key denies there is any change to "the rules around foreign investments".


This double talk suggests Key will convey open sesame to China during a visit that commences today, and another position to the NZ public who are increasingly concerned about the sale of NZ property to China and other foreign interests.


Despite Government assurances to the contrary, land sales to foreign interests are dramatically increasing. Here are the latest available overall figures, from the Key Facts page of the CAFCA Website 


In 2012, the Overseas Investment Office approved the sale of 43,080 hectares of freehold rural land and 8,554 hectares of leases and other interests in land to foreigners. About 10,000 hectares of the freehold land and almost all the leases and other interests in land were from one foreign investor to another. In the decade 2003 to 2012, the average was 133,942 hectares of freehold and 60,435 hectares of leases and other interests in land approved for sale. Statistics on sales of land to overseas interests are poorly recorded and incomplete. Our best estimate is that in 2011 at least 8.7 percent of New Zealand farmland including forestry, or 1.3 million hectares, is foreign-owned or controlled and it could have reached 10 percent. (Sources: Overseas Investment Commission and Overseas Investment Office. “Overseas Ownership Of Land: Far Greater Than The 1% The PM Claims”, by Bill Rosenberg)


John Key must cut out the double talk and signal a firm change of policy over foreign investments in NZ to both China and the New Zealand people


And why stop at China when talking about making foreigners lease rural land, as opposed to buying it? 


This needs to be an across the board policy, not simply confined to one country because that happens to the one that is giving the Government political grief at the moment


Join The National Day Of Action To Stop The TPPA

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Saturday 29 March, 1-00p.m.

Contact the organisers of your local event if you can help or Chris  if you want to start something where there is a gap.

Posters and leaflets, templates for placards, and other resources are all on the website or will be soon.

It would be great to have lots of colour and creativity - there will be ideas from other international actions on the TPPA on the website too.

Join the banner- and placard-making day in Auckland on Saturday 22nd. Contact Chris

Protest Locations (from North to South)

Hokianga
Kohukohu at 1:00

Whangarei
Clock Museum, Town Basin at 1:00
Auckland
1:00 pm Aotea Square
Hamilton
Garden Place at 1:00
Taranaki
Puke Ariki Landing at 1:00
Tauranga
Red Square at 1:00
Whanganui
Silver Ball Sculpture on the Riverfront 1pm walk up to Majestic Square
Palmerston North
The Square at 1:00
Wellington
Cuba Street, bucket fountain at 1:00
Nelson
venue TBD at 1:00
Christchurch
114 Cashel St at 1:00
Geraldine
South Canterbury on the T junction of Cox and Talbot Street at 1:00
Invercargill
Wachner Place @ 1:00
More places in process of being organised. 
Email us if you'd like to be involved:

Queenstown
Napier
Timaru


Dunedin




Seven countries’ senior legislators call for release of the TPPA text

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Seven countries’ senior legislators call for release of the TPPA text, Ministers must respond

‘There has been unprecedented call today from senior legislators in seven countries for the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement text to be released before it is signed’, said Professor Jane Kelsey, who monitors the negotiations. The open letter reads:
We, the undersigned legislators from countries involved in the negotiation of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement, call on the Parties to the negotiation to publish the draft text of the Agreement before any final agreement is signed with sufficient time to enable effective legislative scrutiny and public debate
‘The trade ministers from the TPPA parties have backed themselves into a corner with their extreme secrecy. That position is now untenable.’ 

 ‘New Zealand is the repository of the TPPA, which is effectively the secretariat. Tim Groser needs to take the lead when the trade ministers meet in Singapore from 22 to 25 February and propose that they revoke the agreement not to release the TPPA documents’, Kelsey said. 

The open letter followed approaches to senior politicians from Australia, Canada, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand and Peru who had expressed concern about the lack of transparency in the TPPA negotiations.

The leaders and co-leaders of the New Zealand First, Green, Maori and Mana parties all endorsed the call. 

Other signatories to the open letter include the Vice-President of Peru, the leader and trade spokesperson for Canada’s two main opposition parties, the trade spokesperson for Australia’s Green Party, and several former Cabinet ministers from Japan.

This is the latest in a stream of calls by legislators for release of the texts over the past year. 

The Australian Labor Party succeeded with a motion in the Senate last December calling for the text of the TPPA and all other free trade agreements to be tabled in Parliament at least 14 days before they are signed.  The Liberal government has refused.

Yesterday, the New Zealand Labour Party sought to move along similar lines:

“That the House call on the New Zealand Government to publish the text of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement before any final agreement is signed, with sufficient time to enable effective legislative scrutiny and public debate; either when it is made public by the United States Congress, or not less than 14 days prior to its signing in New Zealand; whichever is the earlier."

The government objected to the motion, which meant it could not be read.

Legislators from other countries have gone considerably further, demanding the release of the draft texts to allow them to do their job as legislators, open the process to expert analysis and democratic debate, and remove the reliance on leaked texts.

In December 34 deputies and 15 senators from Chile’s Parliament called on the President to halt the negotiations and make them transparent. Many belong to the party that will become the government in March.

Members of the US Congress have issued a constant stream of letters objecting to the secrecy and seeking release of the draft texts.

The letter and related documents can be found on www.tppmpsfortransparency.org, a website co-hosted by development agency Oxfam International and Article 19, an international NGO that campaigns for freedom of expression and transparency.