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If Parliament was run like the WTO...

If Parliament was run like the WTO...

The Green Party is urging the Government speak out for the rights of developing countries so they don't get trampled on again, at this week's World Trade Organisation (WTO) ministerial meeting in Cancun.

"The WTO is close to melt-down due to the undemocratic and domineering behaviour of the rich G8 counties and their corporations which direct and determine its procedures and outcomes," Green Co-leader Rod Donald said today.

"The organisation is a mass of contradictions. It claims to be a 'rules-based organisation' that champions the principles of 'transparency, non-discrimination and procedural fairness' yet its lack of internal transparency, participation and democracy is appalling, especially when its decisions and actions have such far-reaching effects on the lives of billions of people."

The Greens are urging the Government to sign on to the Memorandum on the Need to Improve Internal Transparency and Participation at the WTO, promoted by ten international civil society organisations, including Oxfam, Public Service International and the World Wide Fund for Nature, which calls for 26 specific reforms.

"Imagine how New Zealanders would feel if our Parliament made decisions in the same way that the WTO operates," said Rod Donald. "This is what we could expect:

* the Speaker of the House and the Chairs of the committees (and/or 'friends' whom they chose) would draft all bills, and then

* the Speaker and the committee Chairs would chair the discussion of their own proposals, but

* documents to be discussed would not be provided in sufficient time for adequate prior consideration of the matters to be discussed, and

* so many meetings would be scheduled at once that MPs could not get to all the ones they needed to get to, however

* decisions would be made by the 'consensus' of those MPs who can manage to attend all relevant sessions for as long as the matter to be decided is discussed, but since

* committee meetings would always be held in Queenstown, and

* electorates would have to fund their MP's attendance at all meetings, therefore

* only MPs from rich electorates would get to attend all meetings, and

* poor MPs would not know what happened at these meetings, because

* there would be no Hansard or other record of discussions in the House or at committees, and in any case

* the Chair of the committee and his/her 'friends' from the rich electorates would hold secret meetings and not invite MPs from the poor electorates. Nor would they allow

* minority reports from MPs who disagree with the Chair and the Chair's friends, although

* any MP or group of MPs could put up their own proposals at any time, and if the Chair liked them they would be offered as substitutes, and the Speaker of the House could at any time announce his/her views as the 'consensus' of the Parliament."

"As New Zealanders, we wouldn't accept our own country being run in such an ad-hoc, exploitive and dictatorial fashion," Rod Donald said. "Why should the people of the world put up with it?"

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