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Free Trade Agreement Not Worth Race Clause Risk

Free Trade Agreement Not Worth The Race Clause Risk

Wednesday 13th Sep 2000 Stephen Franks Media Release -- Economy

The Free Trade Agreement with Singapore is mostly symbolic but New Zealand could pay a high price for the race privilege clause, said ACT Commerce spokesman Stephen Franks today.

“New Zealand gives more than it gets with the race privilege clause. Singapore gets open investment access, but only agrees to ‘discuss ‘at a future date, the open professional services market New Zealand wants.

“New Zealand gets a new litigation weapon for the domestic grievance industry.

“New Zealand business people would far rather know where the country was going in apartheid terms. A vague promise of further discussions from the Singaporeans does not outweigh the risk of the racial discrimination clause.

“National and Labour have shown in the last two days just how we got our law into its current racial mess. Business needs law that means what it says and says what it means. No one can tell what the racial preference clause will mean. The Labour Government says it is only symbolic and meaningless, yet at the same time says it is so important it won’t do the deal without it, notwithstanding its claimed importance to New Zealand business. They can’t have it both ways.

“National’s behaviour shows exactly how we drifted into the current swamp. Without any sense of principle or integrity they are now negotiating a tawdry deal. They will vote to approve a Treaty, knowing its provisions are dangerous as they clearly stated yesterday, so long as they don’t have to vote on those provisions directly.

“This is playing a corrupt political game with our constitutional future. Business people know that apartheid worries underline the collapse in confidence in New Zealand’s future. New Zealanders are looking for a clear statement of principle, one law for all New Zealanders. They want an immediate end to constitutional entrenchment of racism.

“National is saying they will support racial privilege as long as you don’t ask us to be seen to vote on it.”

“Both Parties think ordinary New Zealanders are mugs. National backbenchers come up to ACT members thanking us for standing up for straightforward morality, treating all New Zealanders alike. They know we uphold the Waitangi Treaty requirement that all New Zealanders have the same rights and privileges. But National looks for a political deal when it is in their power to cry halt to the dishonesty,” said Stephen Franks.

For more information visit ACT online at http://www.act.org.nz or contact the ACT Parliamentary Office at act@parliament.govt.nz.

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