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Parliamentary petition for democratic overhaul of TPPA

During the rally outside Parliament at midday, a petition will be handed over by Oliver Hailes to Green Party MP Golriz Ghahraman calling for a democratic overhaul of the process for negotiating and signing the trade, investment and economic integration agreements. Mr Hailes is the spokesperson for It’s Our Future, New Zealand’s network of opponents to the TPPA, which has gathered more than 5,000 signatures in support of the petition over last fortnight.

“We stand united by the demand that never again will we be kept in the dark while technocrats trade away control over our future,” Mr Hailes said. “The petition urges Parliament to call upon the Government not to sign or ratify the TPPA; to undertake a principles-based review of New Zealand’s approach to free trade, investment and economic integration agreements that involves broad-based consultation; and to engage with Māori to reach agreement on effective protection of their rights and interests consistent with te Tiriti o Waitangi.”

“The petition also calls on Parliament to pass new laws that exclude the rights of foreign investors to sue the government, and to require independent assessments of impact on the economy, health, human rights, the environment and climate action, and a review by the Waitangi Tribunal, prior to signing any future agreement, such as the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) presently being negotiated with countries including India and China.”

Once Ms Ghahraman receives the petition, she will deliver it to the clerk of the House who will refer it to the Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Committee. “We call on all the members of the select committee, in particular Labour MPs Duncan Webb, Louisa Wall and Willie Jackson, to take seriously this petition and place it on the fast track for discussion.”

The motion in the House will read: “That the House note the petition signed by 5,099 New Zealanders calling on the House to reject the revised Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement, now known as the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement on Trans-Pacific Partnership, and revise the Standing Orders of the Parliament to ensure the process for negotiating and signing trade and investment agreements is more democratic, independently informed, and regularly feeds information back to the Parliament and the people.”

The petition originally was the idea of activist Greg Rzesniowiecki and was drafted with the input of academics and constitutional lawyers.

Mr Hailes emphasised the importance of having robust treaty processes: “Earlier this week the European Court of Justice effectively rules that investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) is incompatible with the autonomy of the European legal system. New Zealand needs to wake up to the fact that signing the TPPA is a moment of constitutional change by stealth, whereby future governments will be forced march to the beat of foreign investors rather than their democratic mandate.”

“The Government has said that it wants to reform the way these deals are reached so that they create tangible benefits for more than the top 1% of society, and the members of It’s Our Future look forward to engaging with Parliament and the Government on this incredibly important issue.”


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