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One more time, PM: Parliament does not get to ratify TPPA

31 March 2014

One more time, Prime Minister, read the Cabinet Manual: Parliament does not get to ratify the TPPA!

‘How many times do the Prime Minister and other members of the government have to be hauled up for misrepresenting the role of Parliament in making treaties, especially the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement’, asked Professor Jane Kelsey from the University of Auckland.

On NewstalkZB this morning John Key claimed, yet again, that ‘In the end, this thing has to go through our Parliament has to be ratified by our Parliament and has to bear scrutiny and I believe is in the best interests of New Zealand.’

‘The Prime Minister is either woefully ignorant of the fundamental process of treaty making, as set out in the Cabinet Manual, or he is wilfully misrepresenting the process to the New Zealand public’, Kelsey said.

‘Parliament’s role in treaty making is largely symbolic. It has no power to decide whether or not the TPPA should be signed or ratified and no ability to change its terms TPPA or require it to be renegotiated.’

‘The select committee process is a farcical exercise because its members know they cannot change the treaty.’

‘At most, Parliament could refuse to pass legislation that is required to bring a particular law into compliance with the TPPA. But the government will have plenty of non-legislative ways to achieve compliance,’ according to Kelsey.

Key’s right hand man, Stephen Joyce, has already had to correct a similar mis-statement in the House.

Chester Borrows apparently made a similar misrepresentation when speaking to protesters against the TPPA in Whanganui on Saturday.

‘If this is what the National government believes should be the case, it should change the constitutional rules to make Parliament responsible for international treaties.’

Both the ACT Party’s Ken Shirley and the Green Party’s Keith Locke have attempted to do so through private bills. National and Labour blocked both of them.

‘Until the government makes Parliament responsible for overseeing, signing and then ratifying treaties, they should be honest with the New Zealand public: the Executive, in other words the Cabinet, decides what to negotiate, instructs the officials, signs the treaty and ratifies it’, Kelsey said.

For an explanation of the treaty making process see Explanation of NZ's Treaty Making Process


The Prime Minister’s comments can be accessed at: http://www.newstalkzb.co.nz/auckland/news/nbpol/112106415-key-defends-tppa-negotiations

Stephen Joyce’s correction can be accessed at: http://www.parliament.nz/en-nz/pb/business/qoa/50HansQ_20131211_00000005/5-trans-pacific-partnership%E2%80%94ratification-process

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