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


Storm Clouds Gather over the Pacific Forum Meeting

Media Release: Arena
Sunday August 2 2009.

Storm Clouds Gather over the Pacific Forum Leaders’ Meeting in Cairns

“This year, the Australian and New Zealand governments may have pushed Pacific Leaders too far in their determination to launch free trade talks three years ahead of schedule”, warns Dr Jane Kelsey on behalf of ARENA-NZ, who is in Cairns ahead of the talks.

Suva based Pacific Network on Globalisation (PANG) has just published Speaking Truth to Power: Australian and New Zealand use of power politics to launch Pacific free trade negotiations

This behind-the-scenes exposé is based on first hand reports from officials, ministers and advisers, along with formal documentation.

It shows how the region’s two dominant powers and donors systematically constructed a ‘consensus’ to start free trade negotiations under the Pacific Agreement on Closer Economic Relations (PACER), Dr Kelsey said.

Trade ministers from across the region are still smarting from being ambushed by Australia and New Zealand at their annual meeting in Apia last month.

Australia’s Simon Crean and New Zealand’s Tim Groser, facilitated by Samoa’s Deputy Prime Minister Misa Telefoni, hijacked the two day meeting, by whisking the ministers away to an informal lunch.

Five hours later, they agreed that negotiations on “PACER-Plus” would begin following this week’s Leaders meeting in Cairns. In doing so, Island governments gave away almost all the ground they had been fighting for over the past year.

Four state parties to PACER were excluded from this lunch. Vanuatu, Nauru and Marshall Islands were not invited because they were represented by senior officials, not ministers.

Fiji was not allowed to attend the Apia meeting, despite a clear legal position that its suspension from the Forum does not affect its rights as a state party to PACER and that decisions made in Fiji’s forced absence are not legally valid.

“Australia and New Zealand have thrown legalities out the window”, says Dr Kelsey.

“They have ignored Fiji’s formal request for consultations under PACER. Australia is now pretending that talks on PACER-Plus are legally distinct from PACER. That is totally disingenuous. Last month’s agenda item on PACER-Plus in Apia referred explicitly to Article 6 of PACER.”

“The Solomon Islands has formally endorsed the legal argument of Fiji that it is entitled to participate in all meetings of the state parties to PACER and decisions made in their absence are invalid.”

“The scene is set for a show down. If Australia and New Zealand come out on top, the Forum’s foundations will become even more fragile than they are now,” said Dr Kelsey.


© Scoop Media

Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines

Abortion Law Reform: "Yes" Wins In Ireland

ALRANZ congratulates the Republic of Ireland on the repeal of the 8th amendment. The Irish Times has reported exit polls predict a landslide in favour of changing the constitution to permit the government to introduce legislation allowing pregnant people to access abortion care in Ireland...

“The Irish government has promised to introduce legislation providing for abortion care on request up to 12 weeks, with no reason given. When the law is passed, Ireland’s abortion laws will be more progressive than New Zealand’s.” More>>


Welfare Reform: Expert Advisory Group Established

Minister for Social Development, Hon Carmel Sepuloni, has today announced the formation of an expert advisory group to support the overhaul of the welfare system. More>>


Self-Own Call: Phil Twyford’s CAA Responsibilities Transferred

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has agreed to transfer Transport Minister Hon Phil Twyford’s responsibilities for the Civil Aviation Authority to Associate Transport Minister Hon Julie Anne Genter, following his admission today of making a phone call on a domestic flight after the aircraft doors had shut in preparation for take-off. More>>

Gordon Campbell:
On The M Bovis Outbreak

As the public keeps on being told, there is no risk at all to human health from cows infected with Mycoplasma bovis… Even so, the M bovis outbreak is still doing the head in of Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor, who will be announcing on Monday whether the government intends going down the ‘eradication’ or the ‘management’ path with respect to the outbreak. More>>


Climate Change Adaptation: Technical Group Calls For Urgent Action

Proactively planning how we can adapt to climate change urgently needs to weave into the work of every organisation, at every level, in every sector of New Zealand if we hope to adapt to the effects of climate change... More>>


RNZ: Fishing Industry Lies Revealed In Leaked Report

Some of the country's biggest fishing companies have been under-reporting their hoki catch by hundreds of tonnes, according to a leaked fisheries report. The report has been kept secret from the public for seven years and environmentalists say it casts doubt on industry claims that lucrative hoki is being fished sustainably. More>>


Uni Cuts: VCs At Risk Of Opting Out Of Government’s Vision

Vice-Chancellors need to accept that cutting jobs to meet narrow performance metrics will do nothing to help rebuild an inclusive tertiary education sector that meets the needs of all New Zealanders, the Tertiary Education Union said today. More>>


Union Votes To Strike: Independent Panel Reports On DBH Nurses Agreement

The Independent Panel, which was set up to help reach a Multi-Employer Collective Agreement (MECA) between the New Zealand Nurses’ Organisation and the 20 District Health Boards, has made a series of recommendations to address issues impacting settlement. More>>


Cannabis: Legalisation Referendum Could Happen Sooner

The Drug and Alcohol Practitioners Association of Aotearoa New Zealand says any decision to hold a referendum on legalising cannabis use in 2019, rather than in an election year, would be a welcome one because the issue is too important to be treated like a political football. More>>





Featured InfoPages