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Public Sector & TISA: On the cusp of something very special?

Public Good: Media release

On the cusp of something very special?

Is the National Party keeping some things out of sight in case they frighten the electorate? Here is some worrying evidence that this may be the case.

On 20 June this year there was a Wikileaks release on the Trade in Services Agreement (TISA) and the coverage was mainly related to its role in the delivery of financial services. An Official Information Act Enquiry (OIA) to MFAT confirmed it has been involved in negotiations since early 2013 with other countries who call themselves ‘very good friends of services’. The government is even keeping the sectors involved in the agreement secret. Consultation has been minimal and subscribers to an exporters newsletter were the only group informed. But there is much more. The Public Services International (PSI), the international organisation of Public Sector Unions, released a report on 19 June which talks about TISA as an agreement for

“Governments [who] are planning to take the world on a liberalisation spree on a scale never seen before. According to the report, this massive trade deal will put public healthcare, broadcasting, water, transport and other services at risk. The proposed deal could make it impossible for future governments to restore public services to public control, even in cases where private service delivery has failed”.

We know that the government is committed to Free Trade including agreements negotiated in secret outside the World Trade Organisation. However there is nothing on the National party website or Manifesto about TISA or in published Beehive speeches or press releases. Prior to the 20 June there was only 1 passing reference from a NZ journalist about the negotiations. If the National Party were proud its international free trade negotiations and confident that voters would want to endorse them it might be reasonable that the Minister would speak about them on the record and they might form part of the election manifesto. Should we be worried that this is not the case?

References

PSI report http://www.world-psi.org/en/psi-special-report-tisa-versus-public-services

MFAT notification http://www.mfat.govt.nz/Trade-and-Economic-Relations/2-Trade-Relationships-and-Agreements/Trade-in-Services/index.php

Responses to OIA request for information on TISA

https://www.fyi.org.nz/request/1764-advice-on-progress-of-the-trade-in-services-agreement

(Of the many paragraphs redacted part 2 page 12 specifically lists the sectors involved

The redactions relate to

Section 6 (a) to prejudice the security or defence of New Zealand or the international relations of the Government of New Zealand; or

(b) to prejudice the entrusting of information to the Government

of New Zealand on a basis of confidence by—

(i) the Government of any other country or any agency of such a Government; or

Section 9 (j) enable a Minister of the Crown or any department or

organisation holding the information to carry on, without prejudice or disadvantage, negotiations (including commercial and industrial negotiations);


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