Ministers are meeting in Atlanta on 30 September (US time) with a view to concluding talks on the agreement. Groser has been attempting to play it cool (anybody fooled?) and pretend he might not go, but we fully expect he will not only go, but also agree to whatever is required of him.
We need you to call the parliamentary offices of John Key (04 817 6800) and Tim Groser (04 817 6811) office on 30 September and tell them it is time to walk away from this toxic deal.
Legal Challenge to Secrecy
On Monday Professor Jane Kelsey and seven other applicants had a hearing in the Wellington High Court challenging TPPA secrecy. They are seeking a declaration that Minister Groser acted unlawfully when he issued a blanket refusal to release information on TPPA negotiations. Dr Matthew Palmer QC has said that they are simply seeking a standard reading of the Official Information Act.
Stakes are high in Atlanta as Ministers hurry to conclude the final agreement. Chief negotiators have been meeting since Monday, and the main points of focus will be around automotive access (Canada and Mexico are upset over a US-Japan bilateral arrangement), biologics, and dairy market access. See Jane Kelsey's op-ed in the NZ Herald for further info.
Gordon Campbell on Dairy
Gordon Campbell has an interesting piece on Scoop trying to decode what's going on with the government currently downplaying expectations around TPPA, particularly on dairy market access. He concludes that it is likely that the dairy deal has already been done. Not everyone supports Campbell's view, but his piece is thought-provoking and stacked with information, definitely worth a read.
On 15 August 2015 the People spoke!
Over 25,000 people took to the streets in more than 20 towns and cities across the country – magnificent! See media coverage of the protests here.
The government’s responded with insults
PM Key and senior politicians dismissed concerns and belittled critics of the TPPA. Key told TVNZ’s Breakfast that protesters were ‘misinformed’: 1/3 were ‘genuine’, 1/3 were ‘rent-a-crowd’, and the rest were Labour and Green supporter. Groser was even more abrasive, telling Morning Report that people were being misled by a few hardcore activists, and describing opposition to the agreement as “completely extreme”.
Attack politics backfired
Even the mainstream media attacked that: a Dom Post editorial called the government arrogant, saying concerns are now ‘shared not just by know-nothing lefties and extremist ideologues, but respectable economists of various sorts’. A Herald DigiPoll showed more TPPA opponents than supporters, despite the veil of secrecy. ActionStation supporters challenged government to agree to a live TV debate over the deal.
TPPA remains on life support
TPPA ministers failed to pull off the deal in late July, but they just don’t give up! Now Groser and the lead official have told the court they expect a deal late September or soon after. The US is trying to get other ministers to agree to meet in New York for late September. Others are saying November when the APEC Summit is on. Key says the deal should be done by Christmas. They’ll just keep rolling out the dates, so we need to remain vigilant. As soon as we know more we’ll be in touch.
28 September for court challenge to secrecy
The High Court in Wellington has set down 28 September to hear the challenge to the secrecy surrounding the TPPA. The hearing will probably take one day. You can help pay the costs here The Waitangi Tribunal has been asked to reconsider the request for urgency to consider the claim that the TPPA process and content breaches the Treaty. Meanwhile, in Japan a legal challenge to the TPPA based on their constitution is getting underway (that’s not possible here).
Nats caught lying about Parliament’s role
The latest National MP caught misleading to constituents over Parliament’s ability to change the final TPPA deal is Shane Reti, who worryingly sits on the Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade select committee. The Greens gave Groser’s understudy Todd McClay hell at Parliament’s question time and he wouldn’t give a straight answer.
Ongoing action around the Country
Kiwis around the country have kept up the actions. Activists in Dunedin linked arms, blocking entry to a National Party fundraiser. On 2 September John Key was met by TPPA activists in both Katikati and Waihi! Auckland activists have located Groser’s new office. Whanganui protestors took to the city roundabout when Bill English visited.
Show Us Ya Text
The ‘Show Us Ya Text’ group are planning on undertaking a non-violent citizens’ search and seizure of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade office in Wellington on 15 September. Find out how you can get involved here, or support them financially here.
More local government victories
The local government campaign continues its amazing run, with the South Wairarapa District Council supporting the 12-point TPP Policy Solution. Work continues with the Wairarapa and Greater Wellington Region councils. In Auckland, which passed the policy in late-2015, local board members are now moving motions that “seek clarification from the Minister of Trade on how their recommendations are being addressed in current negotiations…”, and it has passed in the Waitemata local board already.
Final debate on Korea FTA
Great inputs from Greens’ Russel Norman and from NZ First’s Fletcher Tabuteau. Almost no other MPS were in the House! Labour basically reverted to its old position.
Dr Philip Pattemore’s op ed in the Dominion Post argues that a “carve out” of tobacco from the TPPA (particularly from ISDS provisions) would help NZ reach its aim of Smokefree 2025. Powerful US Senators, like Majority Leader Mitch McConnell from tobacco-producing Kentucky state, have dug in their heels, with one blog suggesting this could derail negotiations in the short-term.
TPPA and Human Rights
Former head of the Human Rights Commission Margaret Bedggood a good piece on the Human Right’s Foundation’s blog looking at TPPA’s impacts on NZ’s domestic human rights obligations - including the right to health and right to life, the right to work and other workplace rights, the right to an adequate standard of living and access to housing, food and water, and democratic rights to information, consultation and participation.
Dairy worker unions from 9 of the 12 countries represented in TPPA negotiations met in San Francisco on 26 August, releasing a statement focusing on democracy, investor rights, wages and conditions and the rights to health and food.