High court bid in wings to shed light on TPP talks
Critics of the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement say they will go to court to try to force the Government to release more details about the secretive negotiations.
Auckland University law professor Jane Kelsey said she would apply to the High Court next week for an urgent judicial review of Trade Minister Tim Groser's refusal to supply documents following an Official Information Act request in January.
Consumer NZ, the Association of Salaried Medical Specialists, Greenpeace and Oxfam will join the action as co-applicants, Kelsey said in a statement.
Kelsey said she had had to wait for a review by the Ombudsman, delivered on Wednesday, before initiating the legal action.
"While we would have preferred to bring the case earlier, it remains crucially important to secure release of information before any deal is done and dusted, and to clarify the rules for future negotiations," Kelsey said.
The dairy deal for New Zealand at Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) talks was looking "disastrous", according to Federated Farmers dairy industry chairman Andrew Hoggard.
Hoggard, who has spoken with dairy industry representatives in Hawaii, said the United States, Canada and Japan were refusing to open up their protected dairy industries.
They were concerned the discussions would end on Friday without a good dairy deal, he said.
"It could be a backwards step for the New Zealand dairy industry. It's going to be a disastrous conclusion," Hoggard said.
Not only would it give those protectionist countries access to the same markets as New Zealand, it would be setting a poor precedent for future trade deals.
Hoggard said he would encourage those countries to think of freeing up their dairy industries as more of an opportunity than a threat.
"Those farmers will find the exact thing we found here in New Zealand back in the 80s. It might have been a little painful for some to start with, but no New Zealand farmer would want to go back to the previous situation," he said.
The perception of New Zealand as a big threat in the dairy world was something Hoggard did not agree with, and he said other countries also had their own competitive advantages.
"[Canada has] got access to land as far as the eye can see. And they can do so much with it.
"They all see it as a threat. This is how they've known things and this is how they've done it. Farmers around the world can be stuck in their ways, but you just got to move ahead.
"There will be better outcomes in the long term."
Dairy has been a big sticking point in TPP negotiations all week, with countries reluctant to expose their highly tariffed dairy industries to foreign competition.
New Zealand trade envoy Mike Petersen and chairman of the Dairy Companies Association of New Zealand Malcolm Bailey were adamant New Zealand should not sign up to a poor deal for the dairy industry.
"The mood is firming up to conclude the TPP now but we can't join in if the dairy deal is woeful," Bailey said.
According to material prepared for the meetings by the Dairy Companies Association of New Zealand, the European Union has 30 per cent of global dairy trade, New Zealand has 17 per cent and the United States 13 per cent, with the US share having tripled since 2003.
Within the 12-nation TPP trade network, the US has nearly half the dairy market, compared with New Zealand at 30 per cent. The majority of New Zealand dairy farmers will not break even this year, the presentation said.
Fonterra the world's largest global milk processor and dairy exporter. New Zealand's exports of milk powder, butter and cheese were worth about $12 billion in the year to June 30, although that was down 24 per cent on the previous June year.
HONE WRITES TO HIS 'BRUDDAH' OBAMA
Former Mana party leader Hone Harawira has written an open letter to US president Barack Obama, asking him to hold off on signing the TPP and inviting him down under to "go fishing, have a feed and a few beers".
In his letter he compared Maori in New Zealand with American Indians, saying because of the Treaty of Waitangi, "our people suffer the same levels of deprivation in housing, justice, employment, education and health as Native Americans".
He went on to write:
"We want to be able to look after our lands, our forests, our rivers and our seas just like the Treaty said we could, not just for Maori but for everyone in this country, and we're really scared that the TPPA is going to make our fight an impossible one.
"Maori aren't even allowed to look at the TPPA before it gets signed off, and from what we hear it'll compromise our sovereignty as Maori and as New Zealanders. We also hear that it will let foreign companies sue our government for protecting our rights (which admittedly they haven't been that good at for the last 175 years!).
"And we hear that this TPPA will take priority over our Treaty, and that we will be denied the rights guaranteed to us by the Treaty and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
"And that sucks!"
Harawira asked Obama to "scrap the TPPA" and invited the president to come to New Zealand for some fishing, beers and " a feed", before sending "love to the whanau" and signing off with: "Laterz bro".
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