What is the TPPA anyway? A rough Natty Bugle Guide

Last week I got a request from my cousin Brenda in Australia to explain what the TPPA was about.  I am very touched, and slightly disturbed in her confidence in me.  But as at the time I was trying to negotiate how to get a team of League Players from central Auckland out to Papakura by 4pm on the Friday of a long weekend, I was a bit bit distracted.

Handy hint, leave at least 90 minutes before.  You really know Auckland traffic isn’t great when Sydney boys comment on it.  But we did get manage to get there in time.  If we have to do it again next year, I might stick us all on the train.  Imagine the excitement on the Southern line if that happened.  Hey the train was good enough for the Kiwis in London.  Anyway I digress – that happens sometimes.

But Brenda, trust me I have been considering your assignment all weekend, when I haven’t been wondering how I will retrieve towels borrowed from Eden Park, letting the catering team know when a hoard of hungry men would be arriving and translating Maori words for coach Mary.

So here goes, and as always this has the Natty spin on it, so you mightn’t agree at all or you find you want to do a bit more research on it yourselves, and that’s a good thing.  Because the TPPA and what it means for us is a bit deal, and we need to be informed and know what is going on.  Frankly, trust us it will all work out fine, certainly doesn’t work for me.


What is the TPPA?

The nice people at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, have provided an answer to that question.

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is a free trade agreement that will liberalise trade and investment between 12 Pacific-rim countries: New Zealand, Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Peru, Singapore, the United States and Viet Nam. 

And they have even provided a link where you can go and link where you can go and look at their analysis and read the document yourself

For detailed information about TPP and to view the text of the Agreement, see www.tpp.mfat.govt.nz

All good, it’s a free trade agreement.  On February the 4th, all the partners signed an agreement that they would get their governments to consent by having the relevant bills passed in their parliaments in the next 2 years.  And Happy Days, we get freer access to 11 markets, so we can more easily sell stuff and make money and we will all be better off.

So what’s the big deal, why are people objecting to this?

  • These very complex negotiations have taken place in secret.  Apparently we just have to trust that our government knows what’s best – hmmm, about that
  • The document which has now been released is a 1600 page beauty.  It was released on the 6th of November last year, and Mr Key signed our agreement on the 4th of February this year.  So interested parties – like the people of New Zealand have had less than 2 months to look over the document properly, and really examine what the ramifications are, not a lot of time at all
  • This isn’t just about trade however, it is also about applying a set of standards for trading in the region.  The concern is, what if those standards are not the same as the rules and regulations our government already has in place.  Whose the boss, boss?  Do NZ rules apply in NZ or will it be TPPA rules?
  • One of the most contentious provisions is that corporations will now gain greater rights to sue governments for introducing legislation that harms their investment.  Apparently we shouldn’t worry about that because that type of clause has been included in Trade Deals before and we have never been sued before – so relax it’s all good bro

Why are some Maori upset about the TPPA?

As the very wise Annabelle Lee said, don’t expect Maori to get excited about signing a document regarding sovereignty in February. Let’s face it we are still dealing with the ramifications of the Treaty of Waitangi 176 years later, and that it only has 3 articles in it.

Although the TPPA agreement includes a specific provision “preserving the pre-eminence of the Treaty of Waitangi”. Maori do not feel they have been consulted enough at all on how this impacts them.  And to be honest just because there is a special provision for Maori, is it really acceptable that other indigenous cultures in the countries will not get the same.

I think the main issue is that Maori feel if they really are equal partners in New Zealand, as upheld in the Treaty of Waitangi, why were they not involved in the TPPA negotiations?   Maori are still dealing with the consequences of when someone comes calling with a piece of paper saying sign this it means better trade conditions.  Which  I think makes it even more insulting that this was signed the day before Waitangi Day.

And the Pharmac thing?

Pharmac negotiates the purchase of our medications, and wherever possible purchases cheaper generic drugs that no longer have intellectual property protection.  But now in the TPPA, the length of time for intellectual property protection has been extended, which is good for the companies that own these drugs.  Not so good for Pharmac however which has to purchase them.  But the government says don’t worry about it, we will just pay a bit more for our drugs because it will all work out in the end.

Why did those protesters have to be so disruptive and block the traffic anyway?

Ummm, they were protesting.  There are a lot of people who are not happy about how this has been handled, and how it feels like this is just being pushed through. I didn’t think the disruption was any worse than when the Mad March traffic starts up again.  Certainly traffic seemed to be flowing very smoothly throughout the city by 3pm.  Try heading out to Papakura on the Friday of a long weekend, if you want traffic disruption.

They didn’t even seem to know what they were protesting about.  They just seemed like a rent a crowd

Well I have to say that since starting this assignment – thanks Brenda.  I have really gained an insight into how complex this really is  And it isn’t that easy to come up with a nice easy soundbite about why the TPPA isn’t a good idea and is worth protesting about.

But for what it is worth here is my sound bite

The TPPA is a huge piece of legislation that will have major ramifications on how our country is governed and conducts it’s business.  From what I have seen, there is not enough protection for the ideals and rules that New Zealand that are already in place.  The New Zealand people including our treaty partners Maori have not been consulted enough on what these changes mean for us now and in the future.  I am not convinced that the trade benefits outweigh all of the other risks and costs the TPPA will bring.

And finally because I don’t have any interesting pictures to add to this post.  I will just add the clip of Stephen Joyce and the flying dildo because funny and clever.  Love it.


And no John Key you don’t get to play the I am horrified and this is terrible card after the shenanigans and pony tails you have pulled.




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