Trade-deal protesters pump up the volume

MATHEW GROCOTT
Last updated 12:00 28/03/2014

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The anti-TPPA movement will move out of Palmerston North's library and council chambers and into The Square this weekend.

A protest against the TransPacific Partnership Agreement is being held at 1pm tomorrow, involving speeches and music from artists from the lower North Island and Auckland. The TPPA is a 12-country trade deal currently under negotiation. Opponents warn it will be detrimental to New Zealand's economy and environment.

So far their opinions have been voiced in a series of lectures at Palmerston North Library and in deputations to the Palmerston North City and Horizons Regional councils.

Sue Pugmire, an organiser of tomorrow's rally, said there was concern that the agreement would be ratified by the Government without it even needing to be approved by Parliament or a select committee.

"There is a growing number of people who are very concerned about the TPPA in Palmerston North, and the more we find out about it, the more that concern grows.

"We want answers. We're tired of platitudes," Ms Pugmire said. "This matter is above party politics. It is a matter for all New Zealanders. If the TPP is signed it will affect us all. It is about democracy, and our right to determine our own future, as people and as a country. If signed, the TPP can override our New Zealand laws including the Treaty of Waitangi. Those laws are there to protect us, our environment, and our families."

Government ministers have repeatedly said the deal will be beneficial to the New Zealand economy by opening up trade opportunities.

The Manawatu Standard asked Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce about the TPPA when he visited Palmerston North on Tuesday.

He called the concerns of TPPA opponents a "fantasy".

Mr Joyce said there was "no way" the Government would sign a deal that weakened environmental regulations or did not benefit New Zealand.

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- Manawatu Standard

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