TPPA Submission

Update: this post was formally submitted to NZ Parliament for consideration on 8 March 2016. I also requested an audience to present my response to the committee. Interested to see what they do with that. At the very least, it will give me an opportunity to show what an utter mess they've made of our democracy.

The TPPA is not an FTA

The NZ National Government has consistently labelled those of us against the TPPA as being "anti-free trade". This is a complete misrepresentation. First, none of us are against Free Trade as a concept. Not to be thwarted by mere facts, however, the TPPA boosters continually refer to it as one, misleading the hapless public into thinking it is somehow similar to our Free Trade Agreements with other countries. It's not. Even the US stopped calling it an FTA ages ago - it has instead been referred to as a "High Quality Trade Agreement" whatever that means. Ultimately, the TPPA has little to do with trade, and everything to do with changing the rules of international commerce. Its purpose is to foul the waters of state control over their own jurisdictions for the benefit of multinational corporate entities.

Beyond Mandate and Anti-Democratic

The National Government has gone far beyond its elected mandate in agreeing to the TPPA. Once signed up (as with the 5 Eyes spy network), in practise leaving the TPPA will be very difficult. That means the Government is signing us up for something that goes well beyond one Government's term. It could be a millstone for generations if the Government ratifies it.

The constituents of New Zealand, its voters, deserve transparency from its government - in fact the democractic process demands it. If we cannot see what our politicians do on our behalf, how can we knowingly use the levers of democracy to reward or penalise them and their parties at the next election.

The people of Canterbury know a lot about this, where the current National Government suspended our democratically elected regional council because it did not like the outcome of some wide ranging water allocation discussions.

The National Government's approach to the TPPA is anti-democratic. That they did not even state their aversion to the secrecy of the negotiation process from the start is ample evidence of the lack of regard in which they hold the democratic process. That they then publicly made excuses for the secrecy confirmed their contempt for democracy.

Unbalanced Access

How does the National Government rationalise keeping the details of the agreement secret from all but a handful of NDA-signing NZ negotiators and a few politicians? Most of the National Party MPs never saw it - they were supporting it either out of blind faith or pure sycophancy: they don't understand it in the slightest.

No, its funny that the TPPA text was far to sensitive to show the citizens of NZ, yet 600 non-governmental individuals in the US were allowed to see it. What's more, they wrote it. They are multinational corporate lobbyists and lawyers. How is it fair that they could see it and we could not? Why, do you think, they would have suggested that the text be kept secret.

Given that the original TPPA text was written by multinational corporations' paid representatives, it seems reasonable to presume that the agreement was designed to benefit primarily their interests. Indeed, why else would they, as the mercenaries the most definitely are, have written it?

No, the minor trade elements of the TPPA are simply an easy-to-sell (well, easy to try to sell) superficial detail of the agreement. Its real purpose is quite sinister from the perspective of NZ citizens, and those of the other TPPA countries including the US.

The Real Purpose of TPPA

The TPPA's real purpose is nothing less than to define a way for multinational corporations to smoother their mercurial flitting between high profit markets and the economies in which they can most cheaply manufacture their wares with the fewest restrictions, tax, and health, safety, employment, and environmental regulation.

The way this is achieved is not through the specific terms of the TPPA text - the negoatiators by all accounts did their level best to look af the interests of NZ's businesses (if not citizens) but that wasn't the point. The point is this:

6000 pages of agreement text, with many ancillary agreements (to which we implicitly accede upon signing the TPPA despite having rejected them in the past, likely for good reason), produces a LOT of words, about almost every aspect of commerce, each of which could have ambiguous meaning, and can be argued over by lawyers ad nauseam.

Corporations employ a lot of lawyers, more than the NZ Government, for example. Also, corporations excell at taking risk. Governments, far less so. The purpose of the TPPA is to slow legislation by sovereign governments by forcing them to wade into those 6000 pages for every single legislative or policy decision they make from now on. I've worked closely with government agencies, who are risk averse to the point of paralysis. Imagine NZ being faced with a Keystone XL Pipeline-type suit from TansCanada, for example (as the US is right now, under the ISDS provisions of NAFTA). Imagine such a trial taking place, adjudicated by corporate lawyers, in an extrajurisdictional court, without any right of appeal. That's what ISDS means in the TPPA - the destruction of sovereign rule.

The purpose of the TPPA is to gum up the process of law making in all of the participating nations. In doing so, the ability of multinational corporations to glide unhindered over the top of nation states, effectively unhindered by issues of national sovereignty or the interests of the people of those nations.

Complete Speculation on Motivations

So, the question is why does the National Government think that they can foist this diabolical agreement upon the people of New Zealand? The answer, in my considered opinion, is because they honestly think they can get away with it. Having reached the pinnacle of NZ politics, who is left in NZ for John Key to impress? While he plays the "everyman" role remarkably effectively, there is no doubt that he is not a man *of* the people. No, I think it's likely that his future ambitions lie outside of NZ, as do those he seeks to impress.

Groser's already got his reward for his loyal service to his boss. Having achieved the zenith of his political career in New Zealand, he is now enjoying the largess of the NZ Taxpayer in a nice foreign service posting and a plush pad in my old stomping ground of "The Big Apple", benefitting of proximity to those very multinational corporations to whom he has managed to hand NZ on a platter. No doubt the trade ministers of other TPPA countries, assuming they don't succumb to corruption charges, will be similarly annointed.