A TPP protester's open letter to Steven Joyce
OPINION: Dear Steven Joyce. As a speaker at the recent TPPA public rally I'd like to respond to your 'open letter to TPPA protesters'.
First, I am not 'protesting' – a pejorative term you use to undermine those who disagree with you.
I am refuting your Government's policy. Now to the substance.
You say people want information about the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement.
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Your letter provides none. What New Zealanders actually wanted was information, long before your Government signed the agreement, not afterwards.
You say the TPPA is good for our economy. Your Government's analysis calculates a 1 percent rise in GDP by 2030. New Zealanders will not notice this in terms of their personal income – other factors will swamp the magnitude of such an assumed change.
You've said you believe we need the TPPA to create jobs. In fact, your government has not undertaken any detailed analysis on the subject.
But Tufts University in Boston has (where I was once a student). It shows the TPPA would cause 5,000 people to lose their jobs here.
There is the issue of our government potentially being sued by multinational corporations under the TPPA's investor state dispute settlement (ISDS) system.
You have peered into your crystal ball and seen that New Zealand will not be sued.
In doing so, you ignore current international practice.
Increasingly, litigious corporations are bringing ISDS cases against governments – 70 percent of these over environmental issues. Examples include governments seeking to stop mining or fracking, or requiring companies clean up the toxic messes they have made.
You say the ISDS is for countries that lack 'an independent justice system that protects the legitimate activities of all sorts of companies'.
Your understanding is mystical. Countries with democratic governments and independent justice systems, such as Canada, Australia, and Germany, have been sued under ISDS.
The threat of litigation is an even stronger deterrent. In New Zealand this played out in the 1990s and 2000s.
The government wished to introduce compulsory local content quotas for television and radio. Had it done so, it could have been sued under the ISDS in the GATS trade agreement.
The government resiled to avoid the risk of being sued. And now, we are all free to watch Keeping up with the Kardashians as much as we want.
Those of us who are sceptical of the net benefit of the TPPA are not anti-trade. The Green Party has a positive alternative vision of what the global economy should be, including all the sub-global trade-investment regimes.
We believe the fundamental purpose is to benefit people, not simply foreign corporates. Trade deals should not be a framework for weakening democratic governance.
The relevant parliamentary committee received the agreement and the government's briefing on Thursday. The hearings will finish on March 11.
I encourage New Zealanders to make submissions, however they may view the TPPA. And when they do, I encourage you to listen, and show some respect.
Dr Kennedy Graham is a Green Party MP