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GATS demands would destroy NZ, say Greens

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GATS demands would destroy NZ, say Greens

New Zealand's culture, environment and lifestyle are threatened by the just-revealed demands from its trading partners under the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) negotiations, Green Party Co-leader Rod Donald warned today.

"The scale and degree of the so-called 'requests' from other WTO countries is breathtaking," said Rod Donald. "They reach into every facet of our life and would - if agreed -destroy this country's unique character by turning it into a globalised village, tailor-made for corporate guinea pigs.

Even a cursory reading of the request document published by MFAT yesterday indicates that wholesale acquiescence would:

* Allow foreign firms and individuals unrestricted access to New Zealand property and businesses by scrapping by the Overseas Investment Commission; * Remove the Kiwishare ownership and directorship restrictions on Telecom; * Destroy the opportunity to make films about New Zealanders, by removing the NZ Film Commission's ability to fund NZ-made films in preference to overseas films; * Silence the voice of Maori on the airwaves by removing special funding provisions for Maori broadcasting; * Lose control of our water supplies by opening up ownership and control to international firms; * Allow overseas firms unrestricted access to oil exploration and development.

"The Treaty implications, alone, are mind-boggling," said Rod Donald. "This Government certainly has no mandate to approve such far-reaching changes to the New Zealand way of life. Worryingly, the document admits New Zealand already has one of the most liberalised trade-in-service regimes in the world.

"Incredibly, vested business interests have had a year to lobby the Government on New Zealand's requests of other countries, yet the public - the people whose lives will be permanently and profoundly affected by any changes - will have just 25 days to make a submission on whether they should succumb to the demands of other countries.

"This is simply ridiculous. There is no time for proper public consultation and no provision for Parliamentary scrutiny before the WTO's March 31st deadline. Therefore the Government must reject that deadline.'


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