Thousands march against TPPA

LAURA WALTERS
Last updated 05:00 30/03/2014
Fairfax NZ

Protesters march down Queen Street to voice concerns against TPPA.

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More than 2500 people demonstrated their opposition to the controversial Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) in nationwide rallies yesterday.

The marches took place in centres across New Zealand in opposition to the free trade agreement proposed between 12 Asian and Pacific countries, including New Zealand and the United States.

Protests took place in Auckland, 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.

Labour leader David Cunliffe spoke at the Auckland rally but would not state his party's final position on the TPPA.

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

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 the fact is nobody really knows because there's 300 pages of details in [trade minister] Tim Groser's safe and he's not showing anybody and that's wrong," Cunliffe said.

Mana Party's John Minto said the TPPA would give foreign investors more rights than Kiwis. "The TPPA is a bill of rights for foreign investors to come and plunder New Zealand," he said.

Representatives from the Mana Party, the Maori Party, NZ First, the Green Party and Labour spoke.

Speakers said the TPPA would become an issue ahead of the September 20 general election.

Police were present but the marches were peaceful.

In Wellington, Oxfam senior policy adviser Sarah Meads said the secrecy surrounding TPPA negotiations was "unacceptable". TPPA negotiations were undertaken in secrecy, she said.

In Auckland, First Union general secretary Robert Reid said the TPPA was "globalisation on steroids".

A protest against the TPPA is scheduled to take place in Japan today.

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