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Nelson is Second City to Pass Critical Resolution on TPPA

25 July 2013


Nelson is Second City to Pass Critical Resolution on TPPA

Nelson City Council passed a resolution setting a number of conditions for an acceptable Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) on Thursday 18 July. There were 6 votes for, 1 against and 2 abstentions.

The Nelson motion mirrors one passed by Auckland City last December.

The Council declined the recommendation of a council researcher for a shortened, less critical version and adopted the full resolution.

Cr. Mike Ward, who moved the motion, spoke forcefully in favour of it, pointing to the risk the TPPA posed to the healthy and participatory life of local communities.

The resolution calls on the government to conclude negotiations on the TPPA and other free trade agreements in a way that provides net positive benefits for Nelson and New Zealand – and sets out a list of criteria to satisfy that test.

The conditions target areas of particular concern to the powers and responsibilities of local government.

They include retaining the right to give local preferences when spending ratepayers’ money on public procurement, and the right to choose whether particular services or facilities are provided in house by council-controlled organisations. Nor should foreign investors have greater rights than locals.

The motion also stressed the need to preserve the Council’s right to require more robust health and safety provisions, environmental protection, employment rights, community participation, animal protection or human rights standards than national or international minimum standards.

In relation to democratic decision making, the resolution urges that the text should not be signed off without full public consultation on the drafts and that ratification is conditional on a full social, environmental and economic impact assessment.

A large crowd attended the Nelson City Council public forum where the vote was taken. Graeme O’Brien, the chief petitioner spoke to the meeting. Mr O’Brien called on other councils to follow suit, flagging to central government that there is awareness and concern at local government level about the dangers of this secretly negotiated agreement.

The resolution will be forwarded to the Government.

RESOLUTION:

That the Nelson City Council encourages the government to conclude negotiations on the Trans-Pacific Partnership and Free Trade Agreements in a way that provides net positive benefits for Nelson and New Zealand ie the partnership and agreements achieve the following objectives:
a) encourages the government to conclude negotiations on the Trans-Pacific Partnership and Free Trade Agreements in a way that provides net positive benefits for Nelson and New Zealand.
a) …, that is, provided the Partnership and Agreements achieve the following objectives:
i. Continues to allow the Nelson Council and other councils, if they so choose, to adopt procurement policies that provide for a degree of local preference; to choose whether particular services or facilities are provided in house, by council controlled organisations (CCOs) or by contracting out; or to require higher health and safety, environmental protection, employment rights and conditions, community participation, animal protection or human rights standards than national or international minimum standards.
ii. Maintains good diplomatic and trade relations and partnerships for Nelson and New Zealand with other major trading partners not included in the agreement, including with China.
iii. Provides substantially increased access for our agriculture exports.
iv. Does not undermine PHARMAC, raise the cost of medical treatments and medicines or threaten public health measures, such as tobacco control;
v. Does not give overseas investors or suppliers any greater rights than domestic investors and suppliers, such as through introducing Investor-State Dispute Settlement, or reduce our ability to control overseas investment or finance;
vi. Does not expand intellectual property rights and enforcement in excess of current law;
vii. Does not weaken our public services, require privatisation, hinder reversal of privatisations, or increase the commercialisation of government or of Nelson Council or other local government organisations;
viii. Does not reduce our flexibility to support local economic and industry development and encourage good employment and environmental practices and initiatives like Council Cadetships, and the Mayor’s Taskforce for Jobs which enable marginalised young people to develop their skills and transition into meaningful employment;
ix. Contains enforceable labour clauses requiring adherence to core International Labour Organisation conventions and preventing reduction of labour rights for trade or investment advantage;
x. Contains enforceable environmental clauses preventing reduction of environmental standards for trade or investment advantage;
xi. Has general exceptions to protect human rights, the environment, the Treaty of Waitangi, and New Zealand’s economic and financial stability;
xii. Has been negotiated with real public consultation including regular public releases of drafts of the text of the agreement, and ratification being conditional on a full social, environmental and economic impact assessment including public submissions.

ends

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