'Democracy buried' at anti-TPPA protest in Christchurch

KIRK HARGREAVES

Anti-TPPA rally in Cathedral Square, Christchurch

Anti-TPPA protesters have "buried Democracy" in Christchurch on Saturday afternoon, as part of a mass rally against the trade deal.

Nearly 1000 people showed up at Cathedral Square around 2pm.

More arrived as an enactment of Prime Minister John Key burying 'Democracy' took place during the rally.

Anti-TPPA protesters staged "democracy's burial during a rally in Cathedral Square on Saturday.
KIRK HARGREAVES

Anti-TPPA protesters staged "democracy's burial during a rally in Cathedral Square on Saturday.

"If the TPPA treaty is implemented then a substantial portion of our democracy will be dead," It's Our Future Christchurch's Charles Drace said.

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'Democracy' arrived in a hearse and was put in the ground by the Prime Minister.

Michael Malloch (left) and Earle Pilcher discuss the ins and outs of the TPPA.
KIRK HARGREAVES

Michael Malloch (left) and Earle Pilcher discuss the ins and outs of the TPPA.

It's Our Future Christchurch resurrected 'Democracy' accompanied by Salmonella Dubs' new song, Jonkey's.

Following analysis by experts of the TPPA treaty text, Drace's organisation believed it was clear New Zealand's rights to make its own laws and regulations would be restricted by overseas corporations.

Revellers at the rally spoke out against the trade agreement, which will be signed in Auckland on February 4.

People from all walks of life attended the anti-TPPA protest in Cathedral Square on Saturday.
KIRK HARGREAVES

People from all walks of life attended the anti-TPPA protest in Cathedral Square on Saturday.

Veteran protester John Minto stood quietly near the back of the rally.

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For him the deal provoked emotions of "anger".

"I think it's dreadful. It's a Bill of Rights for the US corps to come in and plunder.

Anti-TPPA protesters gather in Cathedral Square, Christchurch, on Saturday.
KIRK HARGREAVES

Anti-TPPA protesters gather in Cathedral Square, Christchurch, on Saturday.

"The real problem with free trade agreements is that, while we all agree New Zealand is a trading nation, if you have open free trade what happens is that our manufacturing sector in New Zealand get gutted.

"If we are going to build up a strong, diversified manufacturing sector and a strong economy with well-paid jobs the only way we do that is through tariffs.

"Every other country that's developed a strong economy, the US, Japan, UK, Germany, they've all done that by putting tariffs to stop cheap products coming in and undermining their own industries," Minto said. 

Protester Feroze Brailsford conceded there were some "fantastic parts" of the agreement, but on balance "it's not good for New Zealand".

Michael Malloch did not agree with the way the deal had been struck, believing it was undemocratic.

"I also think that it will not help fair trade. 

"It will put the power into the hands of a few corporates. We've got to keep to democracy," he said.

Vic Mackay was "here for the big picture". 

"For our freedom and for our kids."

She disliked the secrecy of the deal, saying New Zealand lived "in a time of transparency".

"I get the feeling everyone's a little bit complacent and 'she'll be right' ... Maybe that's a perfect time to bring something like this in," Mackay said.

The last major TPPA rally in Christchurch, held in August, attracted 3500 people, Drace said.

He and a fellow organiser estimated about 1000 had turned up to Saturday's rally.

Other anti-TPPA events in Christchurch on Saturday include a car enthusiasts' cruise, which the organiser Corey Nicholls says could include 200-300 vehicles.

Police on Thursday said they would be keeping an eye on the cruise, which the organisers say is not a boy racer meet, and taking enforcement action if necessary.

WHAT IS THE TPPA?

The TPPA is a trade deal involving New Zealand and 11 other countries.

As a result of the deal, the taxes paid on imports from member nations will be lowered or eliminated.

The Government says the deal will add $2.7 billion a year to the country's economic output by 2030.

Critics say it will give other countries and corporations undue influence over our laws.

The deal will be signed in Auckland on February 4, but will not come into effect until all countries ratify it.

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 - Stuff

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