A short campaign to highlight the secrecy of the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement has resulted in 26,000 signatures on an e-petition or letters to political leaders, calling for release of the draft text under the catchcry “It’s not democracy, and it’s not right”.
“Trust me” doesn’t wash
A short campaign to highlight the secrecy of the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement has resulted in 26,000 signatures on an e-petition or letters to political leaders, calling for release of the draft text under the catchcry “it’s not democracy, and it’s not right”.
The response reinforces a ConsumerLink survey conducted last December when the TPPA negotiations were held in Auckland, where 65 per cent of those polled opposed keeping the text secret until it was signed, with only 14 per cent in favour.
Release of the e-petition results coincides with a meeting of TPPA ministers in Singapore from December 7-10, and adds impetus to objections from many other countries to a previous decision not to release the text until it is signed.
On 22 September 22, Trade Minister Tim Groser was asked on the TVNZ’s Q&A, “Why so much secrecy about the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement.” He replied: “You have to understand this, that if you put out texts into the public with different and conflicting negotiating positions, lobbies who are opposed to change will seize on that text, will try to stop their negotiators showing any compromise.”
In other words, the government will not reveal what it proposes to give away until the deal is done. People can only see this once it’s too late to change. No democracy, no public consultation, just “trust me.”
Such contempt for democracy spurred a number of development, environmental and Maori organisations and unions to sponsor the online petition and letter writing campaign to demand the release of the draft TPPA text.
According to Barry Coates, Executive Director of Oxfam New Zealand: “These are crucial issues, not only for New Zealand but also for developing countries since this agreement is likely to set the framework for future agreements.
“Priority needs to be given to issues including access to affordable medicines, the rights of government to regulate in the public interest and respect for the legal system and democratic institutions. It is unacceptable that these issues would be subject to negotiations undertaken in secrecy.”
Speaking for Greenpeace NZ, another of the sponsors, Nathan Argent said: “We’re deeply concerned that relegating the concerns of ordinary New Zealanders to second place will become even more prevalent if John Key signs us up to the TPPA. Our ability to take steps to reduce pollution and safeguard our oceans could be further stripped from us in order to line the pockets of some of the planet’s biggest polluters.”
CTU President Helen Kelly made it clear that “We do not support New Zealand signing up to the TPPA. This deal heavily favours US corporate interests at the expense of workers’ health, living standards and environment, leading to growing inequality. It will also hamper developing new industries and well-paid jobs for Kiwi workers.”
“It is imperative that we see the draft text of the agreement before it is a done deal. This veil of secrecy is no way to conduct such an invasive agreement,” she said.