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Richard Prebble Letter To PM on Trade Agreement

15 August, 2000

Rt Hon Helen Clark
Prime Minister

Dear Prime Minister

Re: Including the Treaty of Waitangi in a free trade agreement

I write to express my concern over a story in the Dominion that the government is seeking to include the Treaty of Waitangi in a free trade agreement with Singapore.

According to the enclosed newspaper account the trade agreement with be "subject to the Treaty of Waitangi!

I read that the Singapore government is concerned. I share those concerns.

What does such a provision mean? Is it a license to litigate? It would appear to be a recipe for trouble.

I note that the newspaper claims the government is relying on ACT to provide a parliamentary majority to support Labour in getting the agreement endorsed.

The government cannot rely on ACT to support a free trade agreement which includes the Treaty.

ACT believes that such a development is not in the best interests of New Zealand as a trading nation in a global economy.
I must also express my concern that the government is taking this very important step without consulting. Parliament has not been informed. The export sector has not been consulted. There has been no attempt to keep the public informed.

I do not believe the government has a mandate to sign a trade agreement that is binding on future governments with a provision that has been included just to overcome problems inside the Labour party's caucus.

I am sending a copy of this letter to the leader of the opposition. The coalition may find that National adopts a similar position.

Yours sincerely
Hon Richard Prebble CBE

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