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

 

ARENA on government's trade-off of services

ARENA statement on government's trade-off of services

The release today of the government's initial offer to trade-off more of New Zealand’s services in the GATS negotiations at the World Trade Organisation was described as "a half-step forward and a huge leap back" by Professor Jane Kelsey on behalf of the Action, Research and Education Network of Aotearoa (ARENA).

Kelsey believes the grip of free trade evangelists like Trade Negotiations Minister Jim Sutton has been weakened, but they still hold the upper hand.

She says that new commitments have been offered, without any public assessment of their implications. The inclusion of postal and courier services is of particular concern.

The veil of secrecy was partly lifted – "but only after the document was tabled in Geneva. New Zealanders would still be left in the dark had there not been widespread public condemnation of the process and consequences of the GATS agreement.

“Presumably we won’t know what’s in the next stage of deals and trade-offs until those are signed off too. This is hardly a victory for democracy."

Kelsey says the Cabinet ignored widespread calls for a moratorium on the negotiations and a public debate about what is at stake.

“In fact,” says Kelsey, “the Labour government has ignored even the limited demands that it rescind the 1994 commitments made by National. These already sacrifice New Zealand control over our national education and broadcasting systems and are already interfering with the implementation of government policies.”

“The key question has still not been addressed: should our national services be controlled by democratically elected governments in the interests of New Zealanders or by transnational corporations through the World Trade Organisation?

"Cabinet is hiding behind sham consultations conducted by reluctant trade officials which impressed no one, including the Prime Minister.”

Kelsey says the Government is trying to allay public concern by saying it will protect ‘public health, public education and social welfare services’. This wording suggests it may apply only to services provided through public institutions.

Given the extensive privatization of public services, Kelsey insists that it is our national systems of health, education and social welfare services that need protecting.

“Education in private institutions is already committed. This wording implies the government might do the same for private health care.

“And because these assurances won’t be written into New Zealand’s actual schedule of commitments, they have no legal standing. So much for Labour's so-called ‘protection’.”

Kelsey objects that there is no attempt to address well-founded concerns about local government and Te Tiriti o Waitangi. The government simply reasserts the status quo.

She points out there is also no promise to protect environmental services, which the Europeans are desperate to have included. These may end up on the table when the negotiations really get tough, especially if the Europeans demand more trade-offs just to keep talking about agriculture.

“There are real fears that the European Union will say ‘jump’ and Sutton will simply ask ‘how high?’”

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines

Gordon Campbell: On The Royal Commission Into Child Abuse

Obviously, it is good news that the coalition government has broadened the scope of its Royal Commission into the abuse of children, beyond its previous focus on children in state care.

In effect, there will now be two closely related reports. An initial report into the historical mistreatment of children in state care will be delivered by the end of 2020, and - two years later – a report into how “faith based institutions” investigation dealt with children will be presented as part of the Commission’s final conclusions... More>>

 

Education: Primary Teachers Rolling Strikes

RNZ Report: More than 100,000 primary school students in Auckland will be home from school today as teachers and principals walk off the job for the second time this year. It's the start of a week of rolling one-day strikes around the country, after the collapse of contract negotiations last Thursday. More>>

ALSO:

"Process Was Sound": Inquiry Into Haumaha Appointment Released

The Inquiry’s purpose was to examine, identify, and report on the adequacy of the process that led to the appointment. It found the process was sound and no available relevant information was omitted. More>>

ALSO:

Govt Loses In Supreme Court: Call For Debate On Prisoners' Right To Vote

The court earlier this week upheld a High Court decision which found that a law restricting a prisoner's right to vote was inconsistent with the Bill of Rights. More>>

ALSO:

Shenanigans: NZ First Accepts Jami-Lee Ross Proxy Vote

The New Zealand First caucus strongly believes that in terms of the Electoral Integrity Amendment Act, that someone in Mr Ross’ position should resign his seat... the New Zealand First Whip will use Mr Ross’ proxy–to be exercised at all times in support of the vote of the National Party... More>>

ALSO:

Call For Conversation: Do You Know What Data Is Being Collected About You?

New Zealand Maori Council has called on a national conversation when it comes to data sovereignty asking the question “just how many people know what data is being collected, why and how is it being used?” More>>

Economic Policy: Gordon Campbell On The Aussie Banks And Their Profits

Some folk rob you with a six-gun, as Woody Guthrie once memorably put it, and some rob you with a fountain pen. And some do it in broad daylight without blinking, while the government looks on impotently. More>>

ALSO:

Drug Law: Cost Benefit Analysis Shows Reform Stacks Up

Both decriminalisation of drugs and introduction of a strictly regulated market for cannabis are fiscally positive. Shifting away from a punitive response to drug use would significantly reduce costs in the criminal justice system. More>>

ALSO:

Strike Looms: DHB Midwives Reject Pay Offer

More than 1100 District Health Board (DHB) employed midwives have voted overwhelmingly to reject the DHBs’ pay offer and to go on strike... Industrial Co-leader Jill Ovens says the idea is to maximise disruption for the DHBs while minimising the effect on women and their babies. More>>

ALSO:

 
 
 
 
 

LATEST HEADLINES

  • PARLIAMENT
  • POLITICS
  • REGIONAL
 
 

InfoPages News Channels