TPPWatch Action Bulletin #12 – 17 June 2012

Well, this week belongs to us! It is amazing what a bit of sunlight can do. The leak of the secret draft chapter on investment put the government’s claims to the test – and they failed. Both PM Key and Trade Minister Groser have had to field questions in and outside Parliament; their answers were evasive, patronising, and (now there is a text) easily disproved.  Mainstream media have now grasped the significance of the TPPA, with saturation coverage on Friday on National Radio, extensive newspaper coverage, and some TV (still to crack TVNZ bulletin!). Despite yet another leak, Groser still says they will refuse to release the text until the TPP is a done deal.

Where to find the leaked investment text and analysis

The text makes it clear what has and has not been agreed, although identification of which country takes what position has been removed. In addition to press releases and analysis from US group Public Citizen and Jane Kelsey on NZ issues, see Gordon Campbell’s excellent analysis of the leaked text on Scoop. The Huffington Post story has had an unbelievable 30,000 comments, three times the number for any story before!

John Key hints TPPA countries will gang up on the Aussies

The leaked text shows that only Australia has said ‘no’ to the right of foreign investors to sue the government directly in secretive offshore tribunals. Instead of seeing sense and joining Australia John Key said NZ would be unlikely to support special treatment for Australia. In other words, NZ would gang up with other TPP countries to force the Aussies to back down. Tragic.

Australia’s rejection of ISDS dates back to Howard in 2005

Stephen Jacobi from the NZ-US Council tried to downplay Australia’s opposition on Morning Report, blaming it on Philip Morris suing over the plain packaging tobacco laws. Jane Kelsey put the record straight – the Howard government said no to investor-state enforcement under the Australia US FTA in 2005, the (neoliberal) Productivity Commission said it has no economic merits and serious fiscal and policy risks, and the Gillard government maintained that position.

Groser miscalculates, dismisses concerns as a beat-up

Trade Minister Groser’s attempt to dismiss concerns as a beat-up didn’t go down well with Morning Report listeners, whose emails showed there were widespread concerns. The text contradicts his assurance that his Government “will not sign a multilateral trade deal if it affects its ability to regulate health and other policy areas”, repeated in Parliament referring to ‘”legitimate” public policy objectives. Jane Kelsey challenged him to publicly debate the TPPA rules, which he has not been willing to do.

Russel Norman put Groser’s claims to rest 

In a great interview on Morning Report, Greens co-leader Russel Norman spelt out in clear and explicit detail why Groser’s assurances are misleading and what the environmental risks are to NZ.

NZ First

Winston Peters called on the government to withdraw from the next negotiating meeting on 2 July and “launch a select committee inquiry so all New Zealanders can see the full proposal and comment on it.”

Labour’s position

In Parliamentary questions on Thursday, Labour’s trade spokesperson Clayton Cosgrove appeared to be siding with Groser, but stated later on Radio NZ’s Checkpoint that he wanted to ensure the Minister was on the record committing himself to protecting NZ’s sovereignty, a bottom line for the Labour Party. Labour has sought but not received assurances from the government that the TPP will protect NZ’s rights to regulate and legislate in the public good.

Australian legal expert spells out risks to NZ from investor-state powers

Australian law professor Kimberlee Weatherall explained the problems with Groser’s assurances, reflecting on Australia’s experiences. She also hammered home that you can’t accept such assurances when you can’t see the text.

Risks to alcohol policy, as well as smokefree NZ

The risk to NZ’s smokefree policy was centre-stage in the debates, including how the TPP investment text would allow tobacco companies to mix and match the parts of NZ’s existing agreements that best suit them, and NZ’s apparent opposition to a US proposal for a special tobacco exception. Alcohol Action NZ also sought assurances from Groser that the TPPA won’t prevent the government enacting tougher alcohol laws.

Investment Text Rules Out Buy NZ Policy

First Union highlighted the investment chapter’s ban on requiring foreign investors to use locally produced goods or services, putting any Buy Kiwi Made policy at risk.

Open Letter from People’s Power Ohariu to Peter Dunne

Congratulations to Peoples‘ Power Ohariu for keeping the pressure on Peter Dunne about his support for asset sales. Creativity was to the fore again in their puppet performance outside Parliament on 14 June. In this open letter, they make the links to the TPPA and suggest that Peter Dunne, he of the “no surprises” school, may be in for some very big ones in connection with the TPP.

ReminderJohn Tamihere’s ‘Think Tank’ on TV3 Sunday morning on 1 July

Media stories

A summary of media stories from the past week.

NZ Herald: Leaked draft of trade deal exposes risks — professor; TPP: Australia odd man out over disputes;

Radio NZ (text links):  Greens see new threat from trade talks / Minister accused of misleading public; Greens see new threat from trade talks; NZ ‘unlikely’ to support special TPP deal for Australia;

Radio NZ (Morning Report & Checkpoint audio): New Zealand cedes rights to foreign investors in trade talks; NZ to give foreign investors right to sue govt in trade talks; Trade minister discusses leaked trade talks documents; Minister dismisses TPP paper; Greens dispute Government’s TPP claims on investor cases; An Australian law professor talks about free trade agreements; Minister deflects questions in the House about TPP agreement; Government told to back away from TPP; Greens see new threat from trade talks; Greens ask Labour to explain siding with Government on TPP.

Fairfax NZ: ‘Sell out’ accusations follow leaked paper (printed in DomPost/Timaru Herald/Southland Times/Waikato Times; Trade talks leak shows worrying concessions (Rob O’Neill, Sunday Star-Times); CTU seeks answers over trade agreement (stuff.co.nz);

3 News Firstline: Fears TPP could derail alcohol reform (interview);

Other:             Call for transparency over TPP agreement (Newstalk ZB); Leaked TPP draft reveals concerns (Newstalk ZB); Greens accuse Groser of misleading public over TPP (NZ Newswire); TPP worries textile workers (NZ Newswire); Fur flies in NZ over secret trade negotiations (BusinessDesk); Minister gives assurance on trade deal (NZ Newswire);  Groser rejects TPP concerns (NZ Newswire); NZ must stay staunch on TPP (NBR); TPP – China wants in, says its man in Wellington (NBR); RadioLIVE news stories on TPP (not online).

Please share TPP activities or good articles:

contact Mary Ellen oconstance@gmail.com (the bulletin) and/or Hannah tppwatch@gmail.com (the website); Facebook page, Stop Stealing New Zealand and websites www.tppwatch.org and tppdigest.org

Thanks! Mary-Ellen O’Connor and Jane Kelsey on behalf of TPPWatch

View this bulletin as a Word or PDF file.

View previous bulletins here: Bulletin 11, Bulletin 10, Bulletin 9, Bulletin 8, Bulletin 7, Bulletin 6, Bulletin 5, Bulletin 4, Bulletin 3, Bulletin 2, Bulletin 1

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