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Big turnout hoped for TPPA Rally

Whaingaroa will again be rallying against the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) at the jetty at the foot of Bow St from 10am on Saturday 7 March.

We will be joining New Zealanders in 21 cities and towns in nationwide action against TPPA as negotiations draw to a conclusion.
TPPA is a ‘free-trade’ agreement being negotiated among 12 Pacific Rim countries including Australia, Vietnam and the USA. Trans-national corporations seek advantage at the cost of public health, general well-being and the environment.

7 March was chosen as it was before the next round of the secret negotiations. This was billed to be a Ministers’ meeting that would make the final political decisions about TPPA. This mid-March TPPA Ministers’ meeting has been reduced to another meeting of TPPA negotiators; the Ministers’ meeting is now programmed for April, suggesting that the negotiating teams are still apart on key issues.

Documents released by Wiki-leaks and insider comments suggest there are strong disagreements between the US and other countries on intellectual property, agricultural subsidies, tariff elimination, and financial services. Medical groups have expressed concern about the impact of TPPA on Pharmac and public health outcomes.

Group member, Joan Havemann, who will be one of the speakers at the rally, said ‘every aspect of the TPPA is concerning, especially the secrecy of the negotiations.’

According to rally organisers, the TPP agreement would enable big multinational corporations greater power to dictate government policy for their own ends through Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) used in foreign courts. ‘Peru wanted to stop a metal smelter polluting the air with sulphur but relented after being threatened with an $800 million compensation claim under a similar agreement’, said Havemann.

‘ISDS allows foreign companies to sue governments where they undertake action that reduces investor profits. A similar claim is being taken to stop Germany getting rid of nuclear power.’

New Zealand is presently suffering the chilling effect of the case that tobacco giant Phillip Morris is pursuing against Australia for that country’s plain packaging legislation of 2012. New Zealand’s similar legislation has been delayed by the National Government, who have stalled moving forward with it until the Australian case is determined. A smoke-free globe is the object of the World Health Organisation’s Convention on Tobacco Control to which both New Zealand and Australia are signatories.

Havemann said, ‘If the tobacco lobby can undermine global public health conventions, imagine the pressure big oil and coal would place on our global efforts to rein in climate change.’

The 7 March rally will be similar to the November event, which had over 300 on Bow St. There will be live music and a few speakers, but, instead of a march, we will build a TPPA Action raft for the Maui Dolphin Day raft race the next day. So bring banners and other materials to make a ‘sink the TPPA’ raft and have a fun day.

John Lawson

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