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Labour insults democracy by fast-tracking Thai FTA

Labour insults democracy by fast-tracking Thai trade deal

The Green Party has accused the Government of riding roughshod over democracy by signing a free-trade deal with Thailand before the Foreign Affairs Select Committee has finished its examination of the agreement.

"It's bad enough that Labour has negotiated a free-trade agreement against the best interests of Kiwi and Thai workers," Green Co-Leader Rod Donald said. "However, it's simply outrageous that the Prime Minister is signing it before Parliament has even finished its scrutiny of the deal."

The Prime Minister is expected to sign the agreement in Thailand today, even though the Foreign Affairs Select Committee won't finish its consideration of the deal until next week.

"All significant international treaties should be voted on in Parliament because minority governments like the current one don't have the democratic mandate to commit New Zealand to long-term international obligations.

"The Prime Minister's actions today make a farce of the limited select committee oversight that currently exists."

New Zealand's last trade deal - with Singapore in 2000 - received much more parliamentary scrutiny, Mr Donald said.

"At least there was a debate in Parliament on the Singapore deal, thanks to Deputy Prime Minister Jim Anderton securing one. Back then, Anderton and Matt Robson took a principled stand against free-trade deals.

"However, now Labour's junior coalition partner seems to think it's a good idea for New Zealand manufacturing workers to lose their jobs and even more Thai workers to be paid less than the cost of living without even proper select committee scrutiny.

"Workers who are about to lose their jobs at least deserve to know why political parties want to sacrifice their futures.

"The Green Party opposes bilateral trade agreements and instead supports multilateral trading rules that give precedence to human rights, wages, working conditions and environmental standards ahead of unfettered trade."

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