Prebble Letter To PM - Singapore Trade Agreement
18 August 2000
Rt Hon Helen Clark
Cc: Hon Jim Sutton, Trade Minister
PROPOSED FREE TRADE AGREEMENT WITH SINGAPORE
The ACT party is very concerned to be informed by media sources that it is possible that the Government intends to sign the Free Trade Agreement with Singapore without consulting either the New Zealand public or Parliament.
Suggestions that the agreement may include radical and constitutionally significant provisions that include firstly, the Treaty of Waitangi and secondly, that this agreement is to be declared a ‘partnership’, concerns the ACT party.
ACT wishes to know what are the legal meaning of the two proposals? What will be their effect in practice?
As I advised you earlier this week, the ACT party believes these issues should be widely debated and discussed prior to the Executive entering New Zealand into a binding treaty.
It has long been ACT’s view that the constitutional provision which allows the Executive to enter treaties without consulting Parliament, is both undemocratic and obsolete. ACT believes that a law change to make all treaties subject to parliamentary approval is long overdue.
This communication is to request that the Government not sign any binding treaties prior to consulting Parliament.
Although the ACT party strongly favours free trade, the Government cannot rely on ACT’s support if it continues to proceed in this undemocratic and arbitrary way.
I would appreciate a reply to this, and also my earlier letter, on this subject.
Hon Richard Prebble, CBE
LEADER, ACT NEW ZEALAND