Wednesday 3 February 2016

For Independence And Freedom: March Against The TPPA!

March in February! The TPPA is inimical to New Zealand’s national sovereignty, and poses a deadly threat to its democratic institutions So, march tomorrow/today as if your independence and your freedom depends on it – because they do.
WHAT I WOULD GIVE to get a look at the Government’s polling data on the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA). Coming out of the summer holiday torpor, my best guess was that the public, generally speaking, was pretty relaxed about the agreement. But everything the Government and its allies have done since early January suggests that the opposite is true: that the numbers reported in TV3/Reid Research poll of 20 November 2015 have not budged, and that a clear majority of New Zealanders remain opposed to the agreement.
Since then, the anti-TPPA forces have worked tirelessly to analyse the 5,000 page document and to marshal their arguments against ratification. In the weeks following the 5 November 2015 release of the TPPA text, a raft of expert, peer-reviewed research papers (available at were written and released. These have made a considerably greater impact on the news media than the rather perfunctory National Interest Analysis, thrown together by New Zealand’s team of TPPA negotiators, and released by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) on 25 January 2016.
The expert paper entitled “The Economics of the TPPA”, jointly written by University of Auckland economics professor, Tim Hazledine, Dr Geoff Bertram, Rod Oram and Barry Coates, impressed even the NZ Herald’s senior business writer, Brian Fallow. The rising level of vitriol deployed by the National Party’s best ideological skirmisher, Matthew Hooton, and echoed shrilly in the columns of the Herald’s Fran O’Sullivan, indicates strongly how disadvantaged in the propaganda stakes the pro-TPPA forces now feel themselves to be.
The greatest blow struck against the TPPA, however, was delivered by the Labour Party. On Tuesday, 26 January, from their New Year caucus retreat in the Wairarapa, Labour MPs dispatched their Finance Spokesperson, Grant Robertson, to Auckland. There, he informed the first of the four main centre town-hall meetings organised by the anti-TPPA group, It’s Our Future, that Labour would NOT be supporting the agreement.
The full impact of Labour’s rejection was blunted by Leader, Andrew Little’s, maladroit handling of the TPPA’s two strongest caucus supporters, Phil Goff and David Shearer. Within days, however, the grim fact that the cosy, 30-year-old, bi-partisan consensus on Free Trade had ended, began to sink in.
The TPPA had turned out to be a bridge too far – even for the NZ Labour Party. This was not a free trade agreement in the mould of the China-NZ FTA. It was, in the words of the veteran New Zealand diplomat, Terrence O’Brien: “an economic policy integration agreement”. And the intent of such documents is, indisputably, to limit the sovereignty of nation states. As Professor Tim Hazledine explained in a Herald op-ed article of 3 February 2016:
“The fundamental idea or ideology behind the TPP is that national governments cannot be trusted to act independently on many issues, because they will inevitably succumb to local vested interests. Only the cleansing discipline of untrammelled global free-market forces will deliver efficient outcomes.”
By “local vested interests” the free-marketeers are, of course, referring to the citizens of the nations concerned. That is why the opponents of the TPPA talk about the agreement threatening democracy itself.
Exactly how far this message: that the TPPA is inimical to New Zealand’s national sovereignty, and poses a deadly threat to its democratic institutions; has entered public consciousness is what the Government, MFAT, the “intelligence community”, the Police, the NZ-US Council, the National Party, and the mainstream news media have no doubt been working like blazes to find out.
Because all of them know that if a substantial portion of the New Zealand population – maybe even a majority – can be convinced that the anti-TPPA message is true, and if that conviction can be given political force by the Labour, Green and NZ First parties, then a great deal more than the future of the TPPA is at stake. If protecting our national sovereignty and defending our democracy become the battle-cries of the 2017 General Election, then the entire neoliberal project will be threatened.
So, march tomorrow/today as if your independence and your freedom depends on it – because they do.
This essay was originally posted on The Daily Blog of Wednesday, 3 February 2016.


Anonymous said...

If the TPPA is so horrendous, so terrible so life threatening why is: David Shearer, Phill Goff, Helen Clarke, Mike Moore and left wing economist Brian Easton supporting it. To quote both Goff and Easton - every international agreement sacrifices sovereignty whether it be the TPP or the recently signed agreement on climate change.

Why Chris would 4 of the last 6 labour leaders support the deal, why would a leading progressive economist support it, are these people stupid, corrupt or are they slaves of neoliberal oligarchs. Chris you sound isolated, paranoid and crankish in your salivating outpourings against the TPP, remember if its as bad as you and your ilk claim we can always simply withdraw from it, quite simple, no need for shouting and rioting, time to move on Trotter.

Jigsaw said...

You talk about the sovereignty and independence being taken away to the TPP but the very same people who detest this seem happy to have independence and sovereignty taken away by the United Nations and be told what to do by countries whose civil rights records are absolutely gross. I suppose this lack of logic is to be expected.

Anonymous said...

all those people you mention Anon, are globalists. They would be for it, all of them are hard left. The TPPA is about selling out NZ and giving away our freedoms and rights. I don't want to be told what to do by the corrupt UN!! One world govt is the real end goal.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

In what way does the UN bind us to do anything it says? Many countries around the world are in breach of so many UN resolutions it's not funny. Particularly the US and Israel, but also Iran, Turkey and Morocco. Certainly the UN has no right to sue our government if we don't abide by the rules. One would have to conclude that the UN is a damn sight more toothless than the TPPA.

Anonymous said...

I am anti TPPA.
I went on the march.
Not happy with all the traffic closures
I knew they would happen, could not see the point.
I kept walking on footpath.
I did not see any Labour MPs.
Caught the first train home at Britomart.

jh said...

Mike Hosking picked on a vulnerability when he tested the knowledge of people on the march. Michael Reddell Eric Crampton and Brian Easton all seem a bit ambivalent and so it is no wonder rank and file aren't that well informed. Hosking's sidekick had a spiel about those blocking the road (which was a blunt instrument).
Maybe they should aim at TVOne

BTW bus drivers in Queenstown have been planning to block the roads which (perhaps) demonstrates why Queenstown wasn't chosen: it is throughly clogged up and in the case of bus drivers the council has solved the bus parking problem by putting up signs saying "No parking of large passenger vehicles".

Anonymous said...

"every international agreement sacrifices sovereignty whether it be the TPP or the recently signed agreement on climate change."

In a democracy the people are sovereign. The people of NZ may well direct the government to support the TPPA; but, then again, they may not, given that allowing their government to be hauled before an international tribunal by a private corporation seems inconsistent with sovereignty.

At present, though, it looks as though the government are not going to ask the people for a directive. So much for the people's sovereignty.

John said...

With all due respect Chris, your claim that our freedom and independence rely on stopping the TPP is probably the biggest load of nonsense I've ever seen you write.

And you talk of analysis by the like of Professor Hazledine. If he used his method to analyze the benefit in a high school economics class, he would be failed.

That's because he says the benefit to New Zealand is no more than the tariff reductions divvied up by the population, to come up with a benefit to New Zealand of $40 per person.

The China FTA has led to an additional $8 billion in exports, from just a $118m reduction in tariffs. In other words, a $67 benefit for each $1 of tariff removed.

That's a benefit to New Zealand equivalent of nearly $4000 per person. Yet using Professor Hazledines bizarre method, he would claim that it's just $26 per person.

The same people leading the anti TPP protests also derided the claim that the China FTA could increase exports by $300m a year. The actual increase (so far) at $8000 per year (80 years of growth at the old rate), is 2600% higher than the figure that they laughed at (Yes - two thousand six hundred percent higher).

They also claimed the TPP would have no benefit at all to New Zealand, Pharmac would be destroyed, and Tobacco companies would be able to sue the government. All totally false.

Chris - as someone who likes to learn from history, how do you bring yourself to follow the doctrine of people, who history has shown to be totally and utterly wrong, time after time after time?

John said...

And another point - Dunedin got 10,000 people protesting against Neurosurgery cuts.

Auckland (with 1500% more population) couldn't even get that number for the TPP today.

Per capita, they would have needed 150,000 just to match the Neurosurgery protest.

(and that's not counting those who travelled from outside of Auckland).

As for the quality of the protestors - TV3 news and John Campbell spent the day interviewing protestors, and not a single person of the large number of broadcast interviews could articulate specifically why it would be negative to them. Not one.

The incredible vagueness of virtually all the answers pointed to a group of protestors who are stunningly ignorant about why they are protesting.

As an example of the level of ignorance, Hone Harrawira (who was protesting) got abused by several protestors for being a govt lackey and a mouthpiece for large corporations.

As the TV3 reporter summed up his day with protestors, there's a lot of genuine anger about a lot of different things, but no one he met through the day knows much about the TPP.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

"all those people you mention Anon, are globalists. They would be for it, all of them are hard left. "
Shearer Goff Clark and Moore might be globalists. But the idea that they are hard left had me rolling on the floor.

greyhound said...

The supporters of TPPA either have an iota of sense or are likely tactical. The opponents are Mao level peasant fundament ists. The NZ economy should be lamb x 4, a far slicker tourist beauty hetro economy linked by a medium fast passenger and express freight rail operating up to the ton and possibly using fast ja and ka replicates which is what nzr was designed for tokaido line speed on lightweight narrow gauge track. NZR as engineers never had much interest in freight

Chris Trotter said...

To: John.

Fortunately, Democracy does not require voters to pass a test on the detail of policies they support and/or oppose. Popular opposition movements, of both the left and the right, are overwhelmingly "informed" by the judgements of trusted individuals and institutions - most often politicians and political parties.

It is, therefore, entirely unsurprising that a number of people (but by no means all) were unable to give a detailed answer to journalists' questions about why they were protesting against the TPPA.

Fundamentally, they were on the streets because people and institutions they trusted (Prof. Jane Kelsey, their union, their political party) had convinced them that the TPPA will undermine New Zealand's sovereignty and weaken its democratic institutions.

And, in that, they are quite right.

As for your comments re: Prof Hazledine. I think you'd better let us have a look at your own credentials before you accuse him of having a schoolboy's understanding of economics. He, after all, is a Professor of Economics. What are you?

FYI: I supported the FTA with China, precisely because it offered unprecedented access to a vast and growing market for this country's key export item - dairy products. The TPPA offers no such access, but it does place at risk the things we value most in this country.

On any rational cost-benefit analysis, therefore, it's a lousy deal.

Chris Trotter said...

To: John (Again!)

Organise the active participation and support of The NZ Herald, throw in the support of the Mayor and the Auckland City Council - along with just about every other major institution in the city - and allow support to grow for several weeks. Then issue your call for a public demonstration. I guarantee that 150,000 Aucklanders will, indeed, put their feet on the streets. (For those readers who don't know, that's pretty much what happened in Dunedin in regard to its campaign to retain Dunedin Hospital's Neurosurgical Unit.)

In the absence of such "official" support, yesterday's turnout of between 35,000 and 40,000 (check the aerial photographs) anti-TPPA protesters is all the more remarkable.

greywarbler said...

How impractical your spurious practicality is. We are already swamped by tourists, soon the equivalent of the nation's population will be visiting. We will see the end of plane flights no doubt in coming decades, and perhaps the use of large floating hotels more. They spend a few days here and there, not spreading the tourist dollar.

In the present we are saturated with tourists, and have to watch the growth of freedom camper types that don't spend much money, use expensive infrastructure, leave piles of poo less fragrant than cow pats, get lost in the wild requiring expensive and time-consuming searches, get injured by natural accidents or from our well-known she'll be right approach to safety and correct procedure.

Increased tourism, fast trains that deliver tourists to main areas, bypassing impoverished provinces! What a stupid and expensive idea, present trains could provide an attractive transport system with perhaps an entertainment coach with mainly NZ performers, simple buffet etc. That would provide a pleasant and memorable occasion. Even making a feature of Taumarunui pies and railway cups perhaps. Something quaint that you wouldn't get elsewhere.

Yes let's have more sheep and properly promote all their products with as much value added as possible. And do it on our own, not connect with the Australian brand and be subsumed and affected by any of their machinations. Develop our own product, our own cross-breeds and push the products like mad and also not pin hopes on the USA market. Learn other languages than English and sell our good stuff into the bigger world.

Anonymous said...

GS - for once you and I agree with your critique of:
"all those people you mention Anon, are globalists. They would be for it, all of them are hard left. "
Shearer Goff Clark and Moore might be globalists. But the idea that they are hard left had me rolling on the floor.

I mean Helen Clark hard left come on shes the second most perfect example of a centrist Ive ever seen (JK being the best), name me one policy she implemented that was 'Hard Left', same goes for Goff, Shearer and Mike Moore - all solid pragmatic centrists - which leaves the question I first put to Trotter unanswered so Ill try one more time:

Chris Trotter drop the mendacious obfuscation - why do Helen, Phil, Mike and David all think the TPP is a good deal - are they really corrupt neoliberal sell outs or is the rant against the TPP just another blowout by the usual suspects of bearded or beaded brown rice munching tinfoil hat wearers.

Chris Trotter said...

To: Anonymous@10:56

Anyone who follows a request for serious engagement in the battle of ideas with a string of insulting and prejudicial epithets, such as: "another blowout by the usual suspects of bearded or beaded brown rice munching tinfoil hat wearers" neither desires, nor merits, a reply.

Anonymous said...

Meanwhile yesterday John Key dismissed the many many thousands of protesters as the usual ragbag rent-a-crowd. Can one get more arrogant than that? I suspect for him it's just another photo op on the world stage (which he so craves), and he doesn't really care what the reason is. An ethical and honest PM would not agree to this shonky deal (Trump - 'it's a horrible deal"), but then Key is neither honest nor ethical, he proved that right form the start when he co-signed with Clark over the much hated anti smacking bill. In short, the man does anything for a chance to shine in the floodlights, he has absolutely no shame.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

Actually, I put Clark at centre-right. Shearer I don't know but Goff and Moore I would regard as hard right. In the usual socially liberal but economically conservative mode of most rightists today.

John said...

Chris - The police, who have to plan for crowd control for at all sorts of events nearly every week, say there were 5,000 protestors.

You say they're out by 700 or 800%, and you know this, because you looked at a photo.

It sounds like your judgement on crowds is about as inaccurate as your cost benefit analysis of the TPP.

In fact I'd bet money that the cost benefit analysis you talk about it doesn't even exist, and you just made up it's conclusion.

And your defense of Professor Hazledine doesn't wash.

To measure the benefit to New Zealand, he doesn't actually use the benefit - he uses something totally different - the tariff reduction (which in the case of China is just 1.5% of the value of the benefit).

He then divides this totally irrelevant number by the population, and calls that the benefit to New Zealand. There's no doubt such a nutty method would get a fail in high school economics.

My guess is that he isn't really that stupid - just deliberately trying to mislead people

You ask who I am? Someone who has been exporting to over a dozen countries for the last twenty years (and an employer). And unlike Professor Hazeldine, I look at the numbers THEN make my mind up. I don't take totally irrelevant numbers so I can make false and misleading claims to back my pretermined position which was made irrelevant of the facts, like the prof.

And the other nutty professor, Jane Kelsey, is now making the bizarre and totally wacky claim in the media that the reason the trade and foreign ministers from 12 countries all came to Auckland and not somewhere else to sign the deal, was all just to spite her.

The nutty professors are on another planet.

Anonymous said...

Clark is a leftie, for sure. The UN is a leftist institution. Goff is right, Moore is left, Shearer more left than right. How can Clark possible be centre-right with all the leftist policy she oversaw whilst she was PM? Are you joking or what? Key is also hard left.

Jack Scrivano said...

Chris, I really enjoy your posts. I don’t always agree with your points of view, but I enjoy the craft with which you present them.

But … is it perhaps time that you banned Mr/Mrs/Ms Anonymous from commenting? At a guess, I would say that fifty percent of your commenters are muddled in their thinking and verging on illiterate. At least if there’s a name, we know what to expect (and we can move on to the next comment). Just a thought.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

If there's one thing I've learned about the police during my long life it's that they always minimise the number of protesters, and maximise the street value of the drugs that they've seized. I guess that's two things but you get my drift.

Anonymous said...

No Jack, we should ban you. Don't be so snobby and elitist.

Just a thought...