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OIA Request On The Effect Of GATS On Water As A HR

OIA Request On The Effect Of GATS On Water As A Human Right, Now Overdue

27 March 2003

Attn Marion Hobbs
Minister for the Environment

According to Brett Longley from the MOE, a reply to my Official Information / Open Letter Request of 26 February 2003, has been drafted, and given to you.

As over 20 working days have elapsed, I look forward to receiving this reply tomorrow.

This matter of how GATS commitments for Environmental Services can expand 'corporate rights' at the expense of incorporating water as a human right within domestic New Zealand law, is extremely important to the public.

Did you, as the Minister representing New Zealand, support the inclusion of water as a human right within the Kyoto Ministerial Declaration?

Under the Official Information Act, I request all information that shows whether or not you supported the inclusion of water as a human right within the Kyoto Ministerial Declaration, and why.

Thank you in anticipation of your prompt reply.

Penny Bright Media Spokesperson Water Pressure Group (Auckland) Ph (09) 846 9825



26 February 2003

Dear Prime Minister,

On 26 November 2002, the United Nations Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights passed a 'General Comment' (ie: an interpretation of the United Nations Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights) which declared water to be a basic human right.

Press Release from the United Nations, 26 November 2002:

"States parties to the International Covenant of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights have the duty to progressively realize, without discrimination, the right to water. The human right to water entitles everyone to sufficient, affordable, physically accessible, safe and acceptable water for personal and domestic uses, the text notes. While those uses vary between cultures, an adequate amount of safe water is necessary to prevent death from dehydration, to reduce the risk of water-related disease and to provide for consumption, cooking, personal and domestic hygienic requirements. The right to water contains both freedom and entitlements; the freedoms include the right to maintain access to existing water supplies necessary for the right to water; and the right to be free from interference, such as the right to be free from arbitrary disconnections or contamination of water supplies, the text states. The elements of the right to water should be adequate for human dignity, life and health. The adequacy of water should not be interpreted narrowly, by mere reference to volumetric qualities and technologies. Water should be treated as a social and cultural good, and not primarily as an economic commodity. The manner of the realization of the right to water should also be sustainable, ensuring that the right can be realized for present and future generations. Further, the General Comment notes that States parties have a constant and continuing duty, in accordance with the obligation of progressive realization, to move expeditiously and effectively towards the full realization to the right to water. Realization of the right should be feasible and practicable, since all States parties exercise control over a broad range of resources, including water, technology, financial resources and international assistance, as with all other rights in the Covenant. "


However, simultaneously, and in parallel, the water multinationals have been pushing for an extension of their 'corporate rights' to commodify and privatise the world's water by getting changes to GATS (The General Agreement on Trade in Services). The big European-based water multinationals are behind moves by the European Commission to change GATS rules to make it easier to privatise our water.


Can you please, therefore, Prime Minister, provide the following information:

1)Copies of all minutes and briefing papers of ANY form, of ALL meetings, at ALL levels of Government whether they be Cabinet, Ministerial or Departmental that provide evidence that this Labour Government has discussed how it plans to fully incorporate water, as a basic human right, into domestic New Zealand law.

2) Copies of all minutes and briefing papers of ANY form, of ALL meetings, at ALL levels of Government whether they be Cabinet, Ministerial or Departmental that provide evidence that this Labour Government has discussed how opening up water and other environmental services to privatisation via GATS (through Public- Private-Partnerships, otherwise known as 'franchising' or 'contracting out') will impact on the full incorporation of water, as a basic human right into domestic New Zealand law.

3)Copies of all minutes and briefing papers of ANY form, of ALL meetings and all information from the European Commission, which call for the New Zealand Government to open up environmental services, including water, for privatisation by European-based water multinationals.

4) Copies of all minutes and briefing papers of ANY form, of ALL meetings and all information from any European-based water multinationals, including tender documents, particularly from United Water, the consortium which already operates and manages Papakura District Council's (and Ruapehu District Council's) water services for private profit under a Public-Private-Partnership.

5) Please provide copies of the advice from Crown Law, which provided the information to enable the Local Government Act 2002 to move 'expeditiously and effectively towards the full realization to the right to water'.


There has been no meaningful, widespread public discussion or debate in New Zealand on GATS negotiations, and what the implications are for the operation, management and control of the most essential of our public services - water.

The Water Pressure Group (Auckland) calls on the New Zealand Government to stop forthwith the implementation of this second wave of 'Rogernomics' by stopping forthwith GATS negotiations.

No more 'railroading' at 30,000 feet! No more secret privatisation deals! We had enough of that under the 1984 -87 Labour Government.

Please advise the European Commission that the New Zealand Government cannot meet their 'March 31 deadline,' because the New Zealand public have not yet had widespread and meaningful discussion or debate of the critical issues involved.

GATS negotiations are NOT in the national interest - they are in the interest of big business based in New Zealand ie: meat and dairy companies who want European agricultural subsidies dropped so they can get more access for their agricultural goods into European countries.

When did the NZ public ever debate and agree that our water services should be privatised in return for more lamb and dairy sales in Europe?

The will of the people shall represent the basis of the authority of Government! Not the 'will of big business'! Where is the proof that what is good for big business is good for the majority of us?


We are sick of 'weasel words,' and sick of treachery from 'centre- left' politicians.

We know one thing that you politicians do understand - VOTES!

The Water Pressure Group (Auckland) has a proven track record of campaigning against politicians who sellout on water commercialisation and privatisation.


To back up our demand for the New Zealand Labour Government to fully incorporate into domestic law, water services as a basic human right - the Water Pressure Group (Auckland) calls on all households in Auckland City to join the water bill boycott!

Water services are a basic human right and water services should be affordable!

Under Metrowater, Auckland City's commercialised, profit-making water company with its user-charges for water and wastewater services - many families are being financially crippled, as the Labour Government knows full well.

The Water Pressure Group (Auckland) intends to crank up the boycott. Having thousands of households refusing to pay their water bills also makes the privatisation of Auckland's water services a lot less attractive for the European-based water multinationals.

Direct action is something that you politicians cannot ignore. Under international human rights law, water is a basic human right- and supplies cannot be arbitrarily disconnected.

Our Water Pressure Group 'Turn On Squad' is firmly on the side of the people and international human rights law.

Whose interests are you and your Labour Government serving, Prime Minister Helen Clark?

Human rights or corporate rights?

The people or big business?

Penny Bright Media Spokesperson Water Pressure Group (Auckland) Ph (09) 846 9825

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