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 Malaysia Exposing Our Dodgy Policies On China

Last week, we all owed a vote of thanks to Malaysian PM Mahathir Mohamad for breaking with protocol during his bilateral meeting in Singapore with New Zealand PM Jacinda Ardern. Reportedly, Mahathir used the photo opportunity phase of the meeting – which usually involves just an exchange of smiles and pleasantries before the media is sent out of the room – to launch into matters of genuine substance.

By doing so, Mahathir usefully exposed how New Zealand is trying to make a virtue out of sitting on the fence over the South China Sea dispute. More>>

 

Health: Changes To Drinking Water Standards

David Clark said many of the changes he is making, which will take effect on 1 March 2019, are clarifications or corrections, “but there are two changes which will significantly improve the ability to test and respond to the presence of harmful bacteria such as E.coli”. More>>

ALSO:

IPCA: Police Detention "Unlawful But Reasonable"

The Independent Police Conduct Authority has found that while Police acted unlawfully in October 2017 when they detained a Queenstown man for a mental health assessment, their actions were reasonable in the circumstances. More>>

ALSO:

Joint Statement: Chile President's NZ Visit

At the invitation of the Right Honourable Jacinda Ardern, Prime Minister of New Zealand, His Excellency the President of the Republic of Chile, Sebastián Piñera, undertook a State Visit to New Zealand on 19 November 2018... More>>

ALSO:

Climate Change: Top Academics Call On Government To Take Action

One hundred and fifty academics and researchers from around Aotearoa, including Dame Anne Salmond, Emeriti Professors and several Fellows of the Royal Society, have signed a strongly-worded open letter to the Government demanding bold and urgent action to tackle climate change. More>>

ALSO:

Teacher Qualifications, Class Sizes: Ten Year Plan For Early Learning

“Moving towards 100 percent qualified teachers in early childhood education centres and improving adult:child ratios are among some of the key proposals for change put forward by the sector and experts in the new draft ten year strategic plan for early learning,” Chris Hipkins said. More>>

ALSO:

Teacher Strikes: Meeting, March And Rally In Wellington

Throughout the Wellington region the NZEI rolling strikes entered their final day Friday. Thousands of teachers met in Wellington, Kapiti, Porirua and the Wairarapa. More>>

ALSO:

14/11: Two Years’ Progress Since The Kaikoura Earthquake

Mayor John Leggett said it was a day for reflection, but also a time to recognise the work by many people to support progress towards recovery made across Marlborough since November 2016. More>>

ALSO:

Pike River: Mine Drift Re-Entry Plan To Proceed

“I’ve decided the Te Kāhui Whakamana Rua Tekau Mā Iwa - Pike River Recovery Agency, recommended course of action to enter the drift, using the existing access tunnel, is by far the safest option,” said Andrew Little. More>>

ALSO:

 
 
 
 
 

LATEST HEADLINES

  • PARLIAMENT
  • POLITICS
  • REGIONAL
 
 

InfoPages News Channels