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Government seeking to stymie report on TPPA


Government seeking to stymie Waitangi Tribunal report on TPPA

"Why the government suddenly announced it is fast-tracking the report date for the select committee considering the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) from the end of May to 4 May is now clear.

It gives the Waitangi Tribunal three rather than seven weeks to produce its urgent report on the claim brought by prominent Maori that the Agreement violates the Crown’s obligations under the Treaty of Waitangi", says Professor Jane Kelsey who has been advising the claimants.

The claim was lodged in July last year, urgency was granted in November, the hearing was held in mid-March and final submissions were presented last Wednesday.

The Tribunal focused on two questions in the urgency hearing: the Crown’s engagement with Maori over the TPPA and the adequacy of the Treaty of Waitangi Exception to protect Maori interests.

The Crown has raised the issue of ‘comity’, effectively arguing the Waitangi Tribunal cannot intrude on Parliament’s legislative process. Last week it told the Tribunal that the select committee will now report on 4 May and legislation will not be introduced before 9 May, which moves the previous deadline of the end of May forward by three weeks.

The TPPA claim is complex without many thousands of pages of documents and very technical legal argument from three legal experts.

"The government is squeezing the Tribunal’s capacity and confidence to deliver under these conditions, with implied threats to judicially review the report hovering in the background."

Professor Kelsey notes there is no other reason to expedite the process. The earliest the US Congress will consider implementing legislation is during the lame duck period after the presidential election in November.

"The government needs to stop this gaming of the process, and revert to the original time line."

ENDS

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