Protesters in Wellington join calls against TPPA signing video

DAVID WHITE/stuff.co.nz

Protesters gather outside Parliament in Wellington to protest against the signing of the TPPA.

Wellington protesters opposed to the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement have been told their fight is "far from over" at a rally outside Parliament.

A vocal but well-behaved crowd of over 300 protesters gathered by the Cenotaph on Thursday to voice their opposition to the controversial free trade deal, which was signed at an Auckland event earlier in the day.

Protest organiser Antony Maddock said the Government was "bypassing our democracy" by signing the deal without the support of the public.

The TPPA protest gets underway in Wellington.
DAVID WHITE/ FAIRFAX NZ

The TPPA protest gets underway in Wellington.

"This is a rally for sovereignty and democracy ... let the people decide."

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Maddock said TPPA opponents needed to be more outspoken about their views to force change.

A vocal but well-behaved crowd of about 300 protesters gathered by the Cenotaph on Thursday to voice their opposition to ...
DAVID WHITE/ FAIRFAX NZ

A vocal but well-behaved crowd of about 300 protesters gathered by the Cenotaph on Thursday to voice their opposition to the free-trade deal.

"Now is the time that we must get further involved with our representatives...only then will we change it, because it is up to us - it's not up to the people in Parliament."

Anti-TPPA activist Greg Rzesniowiecki said the deal was a "corporate rights agreement" that undermined human rights, and should be stopped.

"Let the people decide: democracy means power to the people, not autocracy."

A variety of flags and placards, opposing different aspects of the deal, were on display at the rally.
DAVID WHITE/ FAIRFAX NZ

A variety of flags and placards, opposing different aspects of the deal, were on display at the rally.

Rzesniowiecki said trade deals like the TPPA needed to meet the "fundamental principles of international law", as well as transparency and accountability.

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"Where's the transparency in TPP?"

'FAR FROM OVER'

Opposition politicians and union members were among those in attendance, with several sharing their concerns about the deal.

Labour finance spokesman Grant Robertson said the TPPA was not a normal trade agreement and required New Zealand to sacrifice too much.

"This is an agreement [where] New Zealand is having to give away the right to make laws and policies in our interests, and that is wrong and we cannot accept that."

Robertson said the issue was "far from over", and Kiwis opposed to the deal needed to continue their protests.

"This is not over: as New Zealanders, we have to stand together [and] stand up for our rights to make laws in our own interests."

Green Party trade spokesman Kennedy Graham said his party had been constantly opposed to modern trade deals, as they were "deceptions" which did not deliver the benefits promised.

"It is not in New Zealand's interests - it's there for global corporates, it's not there for national citizens."

Graham, who sits on Parliament's foreign affairs, defence and trade committee, said the TPPA would "trample" on environmental protections and human rights.

'LOSS FOR MUMS AND DADS'

Wellington woman Amanda Vickers, speaking on behalf of NZ First, said the deal had "no upsides" for New Zealand.

"This will be a loss for mums and dads, and it will be a loss for our children."

A variety of flags and placards were brandished by those at the rally, which lacked the drama and traffic jams from the Auckland protests.

Organisers handed out song sheets with revised, anti-TPPA lyrics for We Will Rock You and the national anthem, while intermittent chants of "TPPA, no way" rang out between speakers.

The protest finished with a mass haka facing towards Parliament - capped off, unofficially, by a protester in a Dennis Rodman basketball singlet extending his middle finger in the same direction.

 - Stuff

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