Hello again to all. Hope you managed to take a break sometime recently. The TPPA negotiations are back on deck, and so are we!
The campaign around public health is steaming away at a great pace, especially the prospect that the TPPA could force New Zealand taxpayers to pay more to the Big Pharma monopolies for medicines and the tobacco giants could sue the government for hundreds of millions if it tries to stop the lethal trade in toxic products by the plain packaging of cigarettes.
It is time to build a second front – the insidious investment clauses and the right of foreign investors to sue the state through a private offshore dispute process. The Australian government has said they won’t agree to these powers. The Key-led government has refused to take them off the negotiating table.
The plan is to focus on 4 areas where foreign investors could use an investment chapter of a TPPA, alongside other part of the agreement, to demand policies and regulations that benefit them and challenge those that they don’t like.
- Tobacco control
- Charter schools and public private partnership
Our campaign depends heavily on quality research and popular education resources with local examples to help people to connect to these kinds of issues. We hope to name coordinators for each of these in the next bulletin.
Can you or your group help to develop resources?
Getting journalists onside and understanding the issues is really important. The message is getting out. Most recently, Anthony Hubbard’s column in the Sunday Star Times on 15 January highlighted the tobacco issue and Jagdish Bhagwati said the TPPA made no sense even from a free trader’s perspective. The recent issues of Foreign Control Watchdog has more articles (www.converge.org.nz/watchdog/).
Alert journalists you think may be sympathetic to the issues and find other ways to get the word out there – write letters to the editor, comment on newspaper columns, blogs and facebook.
There will be opportunities to learn about and discuss the impact of TPPA for tino rangatiratanga and a range of tangata whenua concerns at several Waitangi Day events.
The tent at Te Tii itself is always a place for hot debates, including on the TPPA. If you are around Waitangi make sure you help raise awareness of the issues and join in the korero.
Singer Moana Maniapoto is organizing a Waitangi Day festival at Muriwai with talk slots called ‘Treaty Hot Seat’ at 1.30 and 3.30, along with a stall on the TPP and spaces for ongoing conversations. For more information see www.muriwaifestival.com
Ohariu electorate initiative
A team of activists have come up with a really exciting initiative in the Ohariu electorate of Peter Dunne, who the government relies on for support. They are planning a Citizens Select Committee of prominent people from the electorate to hear the people’s views on asset sales and the TPP, with a series of activities to raise awareness along the way. The first event is on 18 February – watch the streets between Dunne’s electorate office in Khandallah and Parliament. More on that, including contact details, next bulletin.
If you want the contacts for this action, please email us.
Are there opportunities to run similar campaigns in your electorate?
Summer brings many big outside events. There are music festivals, orientations at universities, ‘Occupy’ events, campaign activities, and the Pasifika festival all taking place in the near future. If you are involved in any of these, or know of other activities in your region, they are great opportunities to raise awareness of the TPPA.
If you want information to distribute, we can provide some for you to copy. Hopefully we’ll have some buttons and other resources soon. And don’t forget to let us know!
There will be a follow up meeting for the coordinators of TPPA interest groups from the 20 December meeting and others who want to work on campaign strategy in Wellington at the TEU meeting room, 8th floor Education House Willis St on 10 February at 2-3.30pm.
Melbourne round 1-9 March
The first formal round of negotiations is in Melbourne from 1-9 March. Local activists will be hosting public meetings on the TPP in general on Wednesday 1 March and on health issues on Tuesday 6 March. The Victorian Trade Hall is planning a rally and there will be other creative activities. If you are in Melbourne why not take part? For more details see www.aftinet.org.au.
These rounds also have an official ‘stakeholder’ programme for unions, NGOs, academics, and of course businesses who are following the negotiations. These are basically meant to give the secret negotiations a facade of openness. But the stakeholder session does provide an opportunity to present arguments that governments that share our concerns find useful. The cocktail reception is a change to bend the ear of negotiators and pick up bits of information. The ‘stakeholder briefing’ is the most frustrating, as they rarely tell us anything. A number of activists regularly attend these events. ‘Stakeholders’ need to register in advance during February. Details will be posted soon on http://www.dfat.gov.au/fta/tpp/
If you want to know more about the Melbourne events, email tppwatch[at]gmail.com
Why not plan your own activity to bring attention to the Melbourne round?
If you have news or events you would like to tell us about, please
Contact TPPWatch at: tppwatch[at]gmail.com (managed by Hannah Coleman)
Find out more about the issues and campaign on www.tppwatch.org and follow the links.
Thanks! Mary-Ellen O’Connor and Jane Kelsey on behalf of TPPWatch