Gordon Campbell | Parliament TV | Parliament Today | News Video | Crime | Employers | Housing | Immigration | Legal | Local Govt. | Maori | Welfare | Unions | Youth | Search

 

Debate And Vote On Singapore Deal A Charade

Government Gambling With People's Lives: Parliamentary Debate And Vote On Singapore Free Trade Deal A Charade

Today Parliament will debate and vote to ratify the Closer Economic Partnership free trade and investment agreement with Singapore.

"In rushing through this agreement and stifling any genuine debate, Labour is exhibiting the same callous disregard for New Zealand workers, and communities' rights to determine their own path of development which it accused National of doing while in opposition. Now both parties are joining hands to ram the deal through before APEC," says GATT Watchdog spokesman Aziz Choudry.

"Today's debate and vote is being heralded by some as a great leap forward in the way New Zealand deals with international trade agreements. In reality it is a charade. The outcome of this afternoon's vote has been predetermined. Officials signed off on the text of the agreement in August after it had been negotiated in secret. The much-vaunted Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade "consultations" about the agreement were a carefully-managed, cynical propaganda exercise. The select committee hearing into the agreement was a total farce, allowing around a week for people to obtain and read the 190-page text, analyse and write submissions.

"If this is 'progress', it just shows how far New Zealand is behind comparable jurisdictions in terms of the democratic scrutiny given to international treaty negotiations. Both Australia and the USA are way ahead of us in this respect.

"Few would begrudge Helen Clark and Jim Sutton having a flutter on the horses against the odds today in their private capacity, using their own money. But instead of joining the punters at the Melbourne Cup they are irresponsibly gambling with other people's lives. They are gambling with the livelihoods of local textile clothing and footwear workers and the wellbeing of their communities as they agree to remove all remaining tariffs on Singaporean imports, although 60% of the product's value could potentially be created by low-wage workers in an Indonesian free trade zone. They are locking in New Zealand's open investment regime which has contributed to massive joblosses, asset-stripping and overseas ownership of most of New Zealand's communications, financial and physical infrastructure. With this agreement, and the anti-democratic way in which they have pushed it through, they set a dangerous precedent for other trade and investment deals with other countries. They are gambling with our future.

"The Singapore agreement is not due to come into effect till January 1 2001. But Helen Clark wants this deal stitched up now so she can sign it with great fanfare en route to the APEC Summit in Brunei next week. With APEC in virtual paralysis and the WTO reeling from failure to launch a new round of global trade talks in Seattle last year, both governments hope this agreement will be a way to symbolically put some momentum back into international trade and investment liberalisation which has been faltering for some time.

"Like its predecessors, this government is petrified of any genuine contest of ideas about free trade. A decade and a half of free trade and investment policies have failed to deliver the promised benefits to the majority of New Zealanders. Gambling only pays when you are winning. For all of its rhetoric about social and economic justice and regional development, Labour is backing a free trade dogma which has lost all credibility in a race to the bottom."

For further comment, contact Aziz Choudry, GATT Watchdog, tel (03) 366 2803, PO Box 1905, Christchurch

Peace Movement Aotearoa the national networking peace group PO Box 9314, Wellington, Aotearoa / New Zealand. tel +64 4 382 8129, fax 382 8173, website Internet Peace Gateway


© Scoop Media

 
 
 
Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines

Werewolf: What Does Winston Peters Want His Legacy To Be?

A lot of people in New Zealand seem to resent Winston Peters and the power that he appears to have. “Appears” being the operative word. In reality, Peters will have power only up to the point that he uses it.

By next week, he’ll have become just another junior player in an MMP governing arrangement, battling to hold onto the gains he was promised. More>>

 

Rising Toll: Road Safety Needs To Be A Higher Priority

Official advice released to the Green Party under the Official Information Act shows that the previous National Government dismissed an option to make road safety its most important transport priority after being told the road toll was rising. More>>

ALSO:

Wellington.Scoop: Arrests At Blockade Of "Weapons Expo"

“We encourage people in Wellington to get down to the Westpac Stadium now for a day of awesome peace action. There will be plenty of food, music and activities to keep us sustained through the day.” More>>

ALSO:

Rorschach Restructuring: PSA Taking Inland Revenue To Court Over Psychometrics

The Public Service Association will be seeing Inland Revenue in Employment Court over its intention to psychometrically test employees reapplying for their roles at the department as part of its controversial Business Transformation restructuring plan. More>>

ALSO:

Nuclear Disarmament: Nobel Peace Prize 2017 Awarded To ICAN

Congratulations from iCAN Aotearoa New Zealand to international iCAN, the other iCAN national campaigns and partner organisations, and the countless organisations and individuals who have worked so hard for a nuclear weapons-free world since 1945. More>>

ALSO:

Expenses: Waikato DHB CEO Resigns

An independent inquiry has identified that Dr Murray had spent more than the agreed $25K allocated for relocation costs, and other unauthorized expenses involving potential financial breaches of the chief executive’s obligations. More>>

ALSO:

Wellington.Scoop: Sad About The Trolley Buses?

The Regional Council’s MetLink is today spending money to tell us that it really loves Wellington’s trolley buses, even though they’re all being taken off our roads by the end of this month. More>>

ALSO:

Post-Election: Preliminary Coalition Talks Begin

New Zealand First will hold post-election preliminary discussions in Wellington with the National Party tomorrow morning and the Labour Party tomorrow afternoon. More>>

 
 
 
 
 

LATEST HEADLINES

  • PARLIAMENT
  • POLITICS
  • REGIONAL
 
 

Featured InfoPages

Opening the Election