Labour on the fence about trade deal

LAURA WALTERS
Last updated 15:54 29/03/2014
Fairfax NZ

Protesters march down Queen Street to voice concerns against TPPA.

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The Labour Party is still on the fence in regards to the controversial Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA).

A national march across 16 New Zealand centres took place today in opposition to the free trade agreement proposed between 12 Asian and Pacific countries, including New Zealand and the United States.

Speaking at today's rally Labour leader David Cunliffe said he would not state what the party's final position on the TPPA would be.

"I'm going to wait until I see the details."

Cunliffe said until the government released the text of the agreement the rest was "hearsay".

The TPPA was a "fundamentally important agreement" but the public did not know what was included in the text, he said.

"There's a wide range of opinions, some people are absolutely opposed, some people think it's a great deal and that fact is nobody really knows because there's 300 pages of details in Tim Groser's safe and he's not showing anybody and that's wrong."

The government needed to put the details in the public domain so New Zealand could have a proper debate about the TPPA, he said.

Almost 2000 people joined the Auckland chapter of today's TPPA march, which began in Aotea Square and finished outside the US Consulate on Customs St in Auckland's CBD.

Protests also took place in Wellington, Christchurch, Hokianga, Whangarei, Hamilton, Taranaki, Tauranga, Napier, Whanganui, Palmerston North, Nelson, Geraldine and Invercargill.

Politicians, activists, academics, union staff and business people were among the speakers at today's protest.

Mana Party activist John Minto said the TPPA would give foreign investors more rights than New Zealanders.

"The TPPA is a bill of rights for foreign investors to come and plunder New Zealand."

Representatives from the Mana Party, the Maori Party, NZ First, the Green Party and the Labour Party spoke in Auckland and around the country at the rally.

Activist network behind today's protest, It's Our Future, said the march was to express opposition to the secrecy of the TPPA negotiations and the potential threat it posed to New Zealand's national sovereignty.

It's Our Future spokesperson Edward Miller said it was "incredible" to have so many different communities, with different interests and different causes join the march.

Police were present to re-direct traffic, however, the marches remained peaceful.

The TPPA march followed on from an earlier, unrelated, rally that took place in Auckland and Hamilton.

The New Zealand Educational Institute-organised march aimed to highlight the issue of poverty in schools this morning.

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