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Greens' hostility to fair trade with China

30 March 2005
Greens' hostility to fair trade with China is a coalition breaker

The Green Party's hostility to a fair trade deal between New Zealand and China doesn't make intellectual or moral sense, Progressive MP Matt Robson will say in the General Debate in Parliament this evening.

"Not only does their position on trade not make sense, it is also an insurmountable obstacle to the Greens joining the Labour-Progressive government after the next general election.

"If any one doubts that, just ask any senior Cabinet Minister if they'd pick the Greens ahead of a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to strike a fair trade deal with China," the Progressive MP said.

"The expansion of trade across the vast Asia region is propelling the most significant rise in living standards ever experienced by so many people in the history of human civilization.

"The race to promote economic development is one that everyone can be excited about because it is a race to eradicate the evil that is poverty and also a race to raise environmental standards.

"The Greens, as a Left party committed to uplifting living standards for ordinary people, correctly opposed the evil international trade sanctions that were imposed on Iraq during the 1990s. They oppose the unfair trade sanctions that the U.S. imposes on Cuba today.

"Trade sanctions, or barriers between peoples, always hurt the most vulnerable and lowest income people the hardest.

"The challenge for all progressive-minded people is to work for a global economy that is socially just and environmentally sustainable – rather than sit in the Opposition issuing ineffectual press statements like the perpetual opposition party known inappropriately as ACT," Matt Robson said.

"I hope the Greens will not repeat in 2005 what they did in both 2002 and 1999.

"In the last two elections, they choose opposition over responsibility. That isn't good for the Greens, their supporters or indeed the supporters of the Labour-Progressive government," Matt Robson said.

Matt Robson's speech follows:

China's strong environmental stance on car emissions praised
30 March 2005
Topic: Matt Robson's Speeches


The expansion of trade within and across the vast Asia and Pacific region is currently propelling the most significant rise in living standards ever experienced by so many people in the history of human civilization.

The race to promote economic development is one that everyone can be excited about because it is a race to eradicate the evil that is poverty and also a race to raise environmental standards.

Ministers from 52 Asia-Pacific nations yesterday pledged to alter current patterns of production, consumption and distribution to promote cleaner, environmentally-sustainable growth.

China has adopted car emissions standards that put Western democracies to shame.

Our minority coalition government has since 1999 has only been able to advance its progressive agenda with the cooperation and support of other responsible parties in this Parliament – the United Future Party, since 2002, and the Green Party since 1999.

Labour, Progressive, United Future and the Greens are making the MMP system work for people and I'm not here to be unfair on the Greens, our natural allies.

But I want to say to the Green Party that when it comes to expanding our economy's international connections, our objective going forward must be to get other nations, from the United States to China, the European Union to Canada, to give us a fair go.

We want them to lower their unfair barriers on our exports.

We want global barriers to trade to come tumbling down just as the Berlin Wall came down and just as the Sahara Wall that Morocco's kingdom has built through Western Sahara will come down and just as Israel's apartheid wall through the Palestine West Bank will crumble.

The government of China has given us a privileged position at the head of a very long international queue seeking a fair trade deal with China.

China is emerging very quickly as the world’s most important manufacturing hub and the Labour-Progressive government, precisely because it is forward-looking, is embracing this opportunity for all New Zealanders.

It disappoints me very much that the Green Party is not here with us on this vital issue.

Last year, a suggestion was made by the Greens that if it were ever to join in our coalition government it might yet call for trade sanctions against China.

That is like saying New Zealand should consider trade sanctions on the United States because we disagree with their federal government's inhumane opposition to Needle and Syringe Exchange programmes.

That is about as silly as its non-negotiable stance on GE in the 2002 election. Unless the Greens reverse this position on China, they are just shutting the door to joining in government and inviting other parties to take their rightful place within our center-left coalition.

I believe the Greens' position is intellectually and morally flawed.

Greens say New Zealand is in a race to the bottom in trading with Asian economies, but in reality New Zealand's minimum wages have been increasing every year of progressive government.

Our unemployment rate is at its lowest level in a whole generation. Our relative living standards have at last stopped falling as they did from 1970 until 1999.

Of course democrats everywhere must speak up in support of overseas' democracy movements, and bitterly condemn any attack on human rights, in any society – be it Tonga, the U.S. or China.

Leon Trotsky, writing in 1927, described the working proletariat of Shanghai as the most advanced vanguard – the most socially conscious and committed to social justice and democracy – of any urban area in the world.

As China gets richer, its democracy will grow. They'll do it themselves.

China is a Third World society pulling itself up by the bootstraps to lift the living standards of its people so that they may enjoy the liberties, freedoms and lifestyles that we take for granted here.

This Third World nation has recently issued landmark regulations banning cars with poor ecological performance.

China's new rules are very strict.

Motor vehicles that fail to meet the standards won't be registered by traffic administration departments across China.

The World Resources Institute (WRI) calculates that 42% of the cars that manufacturing giant General Motors sold in 2004 can no longer be sold in the China of 2005. From 2008, China's regulations will get even stricter still.

Around 80% of the cars currently produced in Germany, for example, will not comply with the new regulations, according to Germany's Umweltbundesamt or Federal Environmental Agency.

Attempts to introduce similar type regulations in Europe by the Environmental Commission failed due resistance of the car industry.

I urge the Greens to join with the Labour-Progressive government.

Say YES to working for a global economy that is socially just and environmentally sustainable – rather than sit in the Opposition pretending that we can shut our eyes and ears to the reality of an increasingly inter-dependent world.

China puts democracies to shame on car emissions


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