It’s time for opponents of the TPP to stop the gesture politics and answer some questions - like what is the alternative you propose? Do you really believe we can stay out of the TPP on our own? And do you want to pull out of the agreement after it is signed?

Despite a summer of opportunity to read every clause of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, opponents of the TPP have failed to produce a clause showing the agreement requires each of us to surrender our first born to the corporate masters of neo-liberalism, and nor have they discovered any other nugget that sustains their vilification of the trade pact.

Meanwhile, falsehoods about the agreement’s perceived shortcomings have proliferated. Andrew Little vaguely implied that the agreement prevents a future government from legislating against Chinese buying land - a position so racially selective it is indefensible, but which is anyway completely wrong.

The current tack of protestors is that the government has ‘no mandate’ to sign. Hence the strangest response of all to the TPP  - a call for the unelected Governor-General to step in and 'refuse assent to legislation’ (although it’s not clear what legislation that would be; none is required for the government to sign the TPP. Any consequent amendments to domestic law would need to follow ordinary parliamentary procedure).

There are few things more obviously undemocratic than the prospect of an unelected Governor-General over-ruling the policy decisions of the democratically-elected government. We would call a manoeuvre like that a coup d’etat, and it is an ugly position for progressives to advocate. 

It’s also a reversal of logic to claim the government is 'denying democracy’ and has ‘no mandate’ to sign the TPP. No matter what your opinion is of the National Government, it was elected with one of the highest vote shares in our history, and explicitly campaigned at the election on its promise to pursue the TPP after lengthy public debate about the merits of the agreement stretching back to the initiation of the process by the previous Labour government. 

If ‘ceding sovereignty’ is your beef, or you believe international agreements are undemocratic, you will need to wave your placards at New Zealand’s commitment to the historic Paris climate change agreement in December as well. Would the Greens promoting the No Mandate campaign tolerate the Governor General blocking that?

Some of the TPP’s opponents have portrayed the agreement as a litmus test for progressive politics. They think that if you believe it should be signed, you must be a right-winger, a ‘neo-liberal’, and a heretic. 

The most important economic trend today is increasing globalisation. Far fewer goods and services are today being made by artisans in a single plant or city as they were after the industrial revolution; We should not be fooled by romantic talk of a local, craft-based economy - the stuff of life is being assembled out of ideas, services, financing, manufacturing and logistics that are sourced and combined globally, and in this globalised economy we must find the jobs and incomes to sustain our lifestyle. 

And therefore it is not progressive to divide economic argument between a ‘right’ that supports global trade and a ‘left’ that seeks to prevent it. Globalisation will happen whether anyone wants it to or not. The job of the progressive left is to influence this process so that everyday working people secure their share of the new global economy. 

If we want our rights recognised in the global economy and to provide fairly for ourselves, then one of the most important instruments will be international agreements.

The rights and needs of New Zealanders will not be respected in deals we are not part of.

For this reason, the intellectual burden is on opponents to demonstrate that their alternative is more progressive than signing the TPP. As representatives from each participating country arrives in New Zealand for the signing ceremony, they would have John Key call a press conference and announce, "Sorry folks, we are not going to do it - but you guys go ahead and sign. And, although we say the agreement could be improved, and we decline to sign it for this reason, we renounce any influence on it in future."

And then what? Our major trading partners - virtually the entire Pacific other than China - would be in a trade pact, and we would be out of it. On our own. (And, remember, the opponents of the TPP don’t want trade and investment deals with China either.)

Wealthy New Zealanders would be fine. They always look after themselves, because the thing about money is it gives you options. The rest of us would not be as fortunate.

Opponents claim the economic effect would not be much. Officials calculated modest gains on the basis of no one signing the TPP or everyone signing it - but the relevant counterfactual is a TPP that everyone signs except us. The divide between in and out in that scenario would be large.

And, anyway, opponents also said there would be few economic benefits from the trade agreement signed with China in 2008, when New Zealand’s exports to China were worth $2.2 billion. Now our exports to China are up to $11.8 billion. In 2008 the government expected the China FTA would add $225-350 million a year to our exports. It has more than doubled expectations.

So, again, what do opponents of the TPP propose to replace the agreement that offers this growth? You cannot say you support the right of New Zealand working people to have a good job and provide for their families and also say you want government to provide public services and take care of our needy if you also advocate depriving the economy of the means to earn a living.

But the TPP is going to be signed whether its critics like it or not. Therefore the more meaningful question now is whether you advocate withdrawing from our commitments. If opponents do not advocate walking away from the agreement when it is signed, then protest is nothing more than gesture politics. But no one credible advocates breaking our commitments, and pulling out of TPP.

No one, not even its authors, pretends the TPP is flawless. Critics have highlighted New Zealand’s concessions.

Agreements intrinsically involve trade offs. Do critics of the TPP accept that getting countries to do things they wouldn’t otherwise do is the point of agreements? If they didn’t involve tradeoffs and compromise you wouldn’t need agreements. Or do opponents say New Zealand should only sign an agreement if there is no compromise on anything? Or do they propose a candy land where agreements can be made in which no one ever needs to compromise? It is reasonable to expect that discussion should focus not on concessions, but on the balance between concessions and the offsetting gain. 

We should always be alert to whether a trade-off is worthwhile, and always seek to secure as much as we can. But in any negotiation the decision is always whether we take this agreement our partners can accept, or we walk away in favour of an alternative - so, critics, where is this fecund and enriching alternative?

Making a litmus test for heresy out of the TPP has made opposition to its signing reactionary instead of progressive. There is nothing progressive about a position that would see our ability to earn a living by selling stuff to the world reduced, where living standards fall for those who need to work for a living, unemployment goes even higher, and the government’s ability to provide for citizens is reduced. 

The campaign against the TPP has been long on knee jerk slogans and bumper stickers and fundamentally weak on a hopeful and compassionate vision.

It has been a mistake for progressives to cede the argument about security and opportunity for New Zealanders in a time of unprecedented global economic change. It's time for those on the left who support this trade deal to speak out and make the progressive case for signing.

 

 

Comments (44)

by Rich on January 18, 2016
Rich

Most of what we export to China are market commodities such as logs and milk powder - China needs/wants those commodities, and will import them regardless of a free trade agreement. Even if China hated us and refused to buy anything from NZ, they'd still need to buy the products somewhere, creating a shortage which we could then fill. 

At the other end of the scale, the sort of specialized products and services we *should* be making aren't really affected by free trade agreements. I've worked in this sort of area for many years and have never found an FTA or its absence to be material in whether or not we sold something. It comes down to suitability of product.

So the alternative to an FTA is simply what we partially do now - sell people things they want and need.

 

by Fentex on January 18, 2016
Fentex

what is the alternative you propose?

Since when is there an onus on opponents to propose anything? Where on earth does that come from? Is not the alternative "do not sign" clear enough as an alternative to "sign"?

How about the modest TPP agreement that did not include the U.S? Nobody was offended by the TPP as it was originally constituted as a free trade agreement to expand trade in the Pacific until it was subverted into becoming a trade block agreement by the U.S with an intention of setting new norms of corporate friendly IP legislation and trade normalisation to exclude non-bloc and reduce their opportunities primarily to ensure trade and trade driven influence favoured U.S rather than Chinese ambitions.

As to this...

opponents of the TPP have failed to produce a clause showing the agreement requires each of us to surrender our first born to the corporate masters of neo-liberalism, and nor have they discovered any other nugget that sustains their vilification of the trade pact.

Is this an assertion by Josie Pagaini she has performed the inverse and read the TPP and agreed with it? Such that she can make an argument against concerns the TPP will extend IP legislations provision of monopolies in NZ denying us an unpredictable wealth from lost opportunity to be innovative or own the produce of our own minds?

Where is her alternative to the argument?  Aren't opponents supposed to provide alternatives to arguments rather than just diss them? Or do I misunderstand the logic?

When people denigrating the TPP write something like Article 18.63: Term of Protection for Copyright and Related Rights extends unreasonable principles of monopoly on expression and helps set economic incentives at odds with societies needs for creative and expressive freedom and helps impose a fiction that embedded corporate ownership is artistic expression and allowed to own others opportunities. Have they not unveiled a teeny nugget?

Do those who point to Phillip Morris' attempts to sue the Uruguayan people under similar Investor State Dispute Resolution legislation as the TPP Chapter 9 Section B Investor-State Dispute Settlement provides not, perhaps, uncover a teeny tiny nugget to concern them?

Personally I think the onus is on people wanting to sign such an agreement to make arguments for it and not demand that all is well and we ought trust the parties to writing it - which included corporations with vested interests - and therefore try and put the onus on others. And personally I have not found such arguments (that we get a little bit more room to sell some things into at the expense of accepting foreign standards of IP law and arbitration favourable to wealthier nations) convincing.

If I were to review Josie Paganini's opinion pieces in the past would I find a consistent commensurate degree of trust in our government and it's agencies?

by Nick Gibbs on January 18, 2016
Nick Gibbs

An excellent post, particularly spelling out the regressive nature of the agreements proponents. 

We should not be fooled by romantic talk of a local, craft-based economy - the stuff of life is being assembled out of ideas, services, financing, manufacturing and logistics that are sourced and combined globally, and in this globalised economy we must find the jobs and incomes to sustain our lifestyle. 

Very true. Kelsey and co are simply naive.

I hope your post gets a wider audience. 

by Andrew Geddis on January 18, 2016
Andrew Geddis

Andrew Little vaguely implied that the agreement prevents a future government from legislating against Chinese buying land - a position so racially selective it is indefensible, but which is anyway completely wrong.

I think this claim really requires some links to back it up. Because here's Andrew Little outlining Labour's concern that the TPPA would stop New Zealand preventing "too many Americans, or too many Australians, or too many Chinese, or whatever" buying up our farmland. Do you have a source where Little says the problem is just the Chinese? Because if not, you've pretty badly misrepresented what he is saying.

As for your claim that the TPPA doesn't prevent NZ from passing laws that further prohibit/limit overseas investment in land (above and beyond what NZ has in place today), could you explain how such laws would be consistent with Article 9.5.1:

Each Party shall accord to investors of another Party treatment no less favourable than that it accords, in like circumstances, to its own investors with respect to the establishment, acquisition, expansion, management, conduct, operation, and sale or other disposition of investments in its territory.

More generally, on your "where's the problem with the TPPA?" question, consider this one (which is based on the actual text of the TPPA, which I have actually read). Let's say a future Greens/Labour Government decides that sugary soft drinks are too great a public health problem and so legislates to ban them (a policy that they actively campaigned on during the election that led to their Government). In response, an investor from a TPPA party state (let's call it Caco Calo) files a claim that NZ's regulatory move constitutes an expropriation of their investment under Article 9.7 of the TPPA and seeks ISDS arbitration of that claim under Article 9.18. NZ, of course, can defend its move on the basis that it "designed and applied to protect legitimate public welfare objectives, such as public health" (see Annex 9-B(3)(b)) ... but whether or not that justifies Parliament's action comes down to what 2 out of 3 trade lawyers who get appointed to the ISDS panel think about the measure. 

If they think that the public health evidence backs up our legislation, then everything is OK. But if they don't - if they think that it's not strong enough, or doesn't justify a ban (as opposed to some other policy move), or similar? Then they can order NZ to pay Caco Calo all the profits that they lose as a result of the democratically mandated legislative choice. Which, I would have thought, would be a matter of some concern to you. After all, you defend the signing of the TPPA on the basis that:

No matter what your opinion is of the National Government, it was elected with one of the highest vote shares in our history, and explicitly campaigned at the election on its promise to pursue the TPP after lengthy public debate about the merits of the agreement stretching back to the initiation of the process by the previous Labour government.

Surely then you worry that when the TPPA takes effect, such democratic mandates will count for nothing in terms of what policies the ISDS tribunals will/will not permit?

by Josie Pagani on January 18, 2016
Josie Pagani

Hi Rich 

It is complacent and almost certainly false to believe that we can go on selling, as at present, when our trading partners are all in a bloc and we are out of it. Second, you say China will just buy things anyway - but China doesn’t have to buy from us. Their trade with us accelerated after the FTA was solved, not by magic, but partly because of the FTA. To put it another way - if you think the trade with China today is not influenced by the FTA, you need to come up with some other explanation for why trade between our countries accelerated after the FTA was signed. And if you think we will be fine outside the TPP when our largest partners are in it, you need to explain why those markets would suddenly find us more attractive, to replace trade lost because we are outside TPP - and why that attractiveness is not already present. And although I agree with you that our exports are comprised of too many raw materials rather than processed high value idea-rich exports, it is completely unclear why signing the TPP would make it harder, rather than easier, to export more high value goods. One of the major factors in increasing the value of our exports is becoming a bigger part of value chains - which means recognising that goods are not all assembled in one country. You have to combine what you are good at with services and products made by what other countries are good at. Therefore you need agreements that facilitate this process. 
by Funny Coils on January 18, 2016
Funny Coils

Andrew's argument completely misses the point - that in order to get the deal, you have to trade soemthing off, and if he doesn;t like one clause, would  he walk away from the whole thing? If it is signed, does he want support pulling out? Instead, he does exactly what the criticism highlights - just jumps on one clause.

by Josie Pagani on January 18, 2016
Josie Pagani

Fentex - "Since when is there an onus on opponents to propose anything?"

And that's exactly the dividing line between us - I absolutely see the onus on oppositions to propose alternatives, otherwise why would anyone bother to switch their vote? 

by Josie Pagani on January 18, 2016
Josie Pagani

Andrew, to answer the issues you raise:


Andrew Little stated that “if we decided that there were too many Americans, or too many Australians or too many Chinese buying up NZ farmland and we wanted to put restrictions on that, then we wouldn’t be able to pass laws to do that.’

The statement is wrong because the TPP has no relevance to Chinese buying land whatsoever. China is not a signatory.  Their appearance in that list is an example of the falsehoods I was referring to, and especially racially selective in the context of compiling list of people with Chinese names.

Now I would like you to link to the point where I stated, to quote you precisely, “where’s the problem with the TPPA.”

In fact I argue the opposite - that of course there are concessions. My point is that concessions need to be balanced against gains - a point in your rush to snark, you have avoided altogether. You haven't listed a single gain from the TPP, and nor have you suggested what trade off between the gains of clauses listed and the costs would be acceptable. 

In other words you totally avoid the entire premise of the argument which is that any agreement is a balance between costs and benefits, therefore you have to weigh up both.

Finally, I do not believe it is problematic for companies to be compensated if their property is appropriated. I do not agree that a democratic parliamentary decision to ban the sale of sugary drinks (which would be a stupid policy) would be seen as confiscatory. I support the policy that provides recourse to compensation for New Zealand companies if they have their property confiscated by overseas jurisdictions.

The use of International Dispute Resolutions Systems is best practice in international agreements these days. If an IDRS panel decides there is a health risk or not from a product being banned, and therefore if compensation is appropriate, that is exactly the right process to follow. IDRS are not being abused in the way you describe. It is hysterical scare mongering to suggest they are.

Even if you disagree on that, it is ludicrous to claim there is no mandate and a denial of democracy for the government in signing the TPP, which was my central point.

If the best argument against TPP you can come up with is to demonise Coca Cola and pretend it is going to sue the New Zealand government, then that persuades me you don’t have a really substantive objection.

Finally, I notice you also avoid the most important point of all - which is that, since it is going to be signed anyway, do you advocate repudiating our commitments? Or is opposition to the TPP simply virtue signalling?

by Andrew Geddis on January 18, 2016
Andrew Geddis

@ Josie,

True China isn't a TPPA signatory. And true NZ already has promised to treat Chinese investors the same as NZ ones (under our FTA with China). But the issue that Labour correctly identifies with the TPPA is that it vastly increases the potential cost of introducing a general prohibition on non-dom land purchases because it opens NZ up to ISDS complaints from a far wider range of investors - especially those based in the USA, which are the most active such complainants. So if we decide that all non-dom purchases of land (noting that the US is the largest such purchaser in the farming sector at least, but China is up there) are something we want to restrict, it is going to be far harder to do so after the TPPA is signed than at present (even with the China-NZ FTA in place). Even John Key says so - it's not exactly a controversial claim.

(This issue of the TPPA's qualitative difference has been covered in a previous Pundit post here.)

Your main point, however, seems to be that "any agreement is a balance between costs and benefits, therefore you have to weigh up both". Seeing as your post made no attempt to do this at all, it's a bit rich to critique others for failing to do so! You instead spent a lot of time essentially saying "this is all good stuff!' and lambasting opponents for not saying what was bad about it. So I gave an example of why there may be some reason to be cautious about what effect the TPPA may have on our domestic governance - an effect that (in my opinion) amounts to a constitutional change insofar as it gives ISDS tribunals significant influence over the domestic policies our government and legislature may adopt. You apparently don't think that it's a problem that 2 trade lawyers can decide that a democratically elected government's policy choices are "wrong" and so require a payment of millions of dollars as "compensation". Which is fine, I guess, but others disagree with you. That doesn't seem unreasonable to me.

Finally, what you call "virtue signalling" I call open debate. It may be that in the end NZ has "no choice" but to take part in the TPPA, much like Michael had "no choice" but to join up with the Marlo Stanfield Operation. That doesn't mean I have to like the game, but.

by Anne on January 18, 2016
Anne

Thank-you to Fentex and Andrew Geddis for blowing Josie Pagani's  contentions out of the water. So Josie, what have people like Professors' Jane Kelsey and Andrew Geddis plus plenty of others been doing for the past year or two or more? Providing in-depth and expert analysis of the on-going TPP deliberations and finally the entire agreement - that's what they have been doing.Then along comes Josie and disses them all with little by way of in-depth analysis to prove her opposing view.

Why don't you "cut the crap" (as the saying goes) and join the National Party Josie Pagani. This pretense at being a card carrying member of the political left has gone far enough and is becoming a sham.

by Funny Coils on January 18, 2016
Funny Coils

Frankly, Andrew, she has handed you your hat.

The only point you have is that an independent tribunal with decide cases. If that is your entire case against TPP, it's not very strong. It would apply to most trade deals. 

And Anne, do you think that the reason National is so popular is lots of people have already joined it? Telling more people to vote NatIona's isn't going to persuade anyone to   agree with you. When did opposing the TPP become the test of being 'left'? On that ground, Helen Clark should join National too. Are you unwilling to engageoin the issues?

by Josie Pagani on January 18, 2016
Josie Pagani

"You instead spent a lot of time essentially saying "this is all good stuff!' and lambasting opponents for not saying what was bad about it." No I don't, Andrew, I say exactly the opposite: That there are problems with it. The point is that there needs to be honest debate about whether the 'problems' are worth it. 

Your arguments against TPP apply to virtually any trade deal. 

By the way, 'trade lawyers' in other settings are called judges. There isn't a court system that could work for the TPP, so you have to have a tribunal and staff it with lawyers - who are qualified to be senior judges. In addition those lawyers will follow international public law and precedent. It will not be capricious, as you seem to imply.

Anne the reason I don't join the National party is because I don't support National. On your logic, Helen Clark - a strong supporter of trade agreements (including this one)  and initiator of the TPP, should also join National. While you are attempting to banish heretics, far too many people have gone off and supported National, and that is why Labour isn't in a position to help them. If you support Labour values it is a curious thing to banish people for heresy of wanting to see those values properly implemented. I've been a Labour party activist and supporter since 1979 when my mum first took me to her local branch meetings as a kid and made me sit quietly in the corner and listen. You - or anyone else - don't get to decide who represents the left just because you don't agree with them.




by Andrew Geddis on January 18, 2016
Andrew Geddis

By the way, 'trade lawyers' in other settings are called judges.

When judges are appointed, they cease to act as lawyers. In fact, they can never practice as lawyers again, precisely to remove any possible conflict between their lawyerly role as advocates for particular clients and their judicial obligations. They also get randomly assigned to cases - if you go to court, you don't know which of the various judges will decide it precisely because the identity of the judge shouldn't matter to the outcome.

In comparison, many individuals who sit on ISDS tribunals continue to practice as trade lawyers - they go from one day arguing a claim for a client to the next day sitting on a claim as an arbitrator and then the next back to arguing for a client. Plus the parties to the claim get to choose who those lawyer arbitrators will be. Here's the OECD's description of how that works out (pp. 42-43):

"Although methods and practices vary, arbitrator selection by both the claimant and the respondent tends to involve complex guesswork and strategising. Parties generally try to identify candidates who will be sympathetic to their case and who have the right character, reputation and persuasiveness to convince the other two arbitrators (and in particular the likely presiding arbitrator) of the validity of their case."

So that's, you know, quite different.

In addition those lawyers will follow international public law and precedent.

No. They don't. There is no concept of "precedent" in ISDS arbitration. Each case is considered sui generis - there's no hierarchy of tribunals, no appeal mechanisms, no doctrine of stare decisis. These are not "court" proceedings, but arbitrations. So that's, you know, quite different. 

Oh - and here's The Economist on concerns with ISDS provisions. If only they knew that TINA.

by Brendon Mills on January 18, 2016
Brendon Mills

Hi Josie,

 

It is good to see that you somehow think that allowing multinationals to have an effective veto over laws made by country's is somehow 'progressive'.

 

You do realise that pretty much everything done by Labour between 35-49 and 72-75 would have left them open to lawsuits if the TPPA was in force back then. The issues of child poverty, unemployment and poor health would have surfaced much earlier. For example the BMA could have sued the 1938 government over health care.

 

Do you really want your children growing up in a US style health system, Indonesian-style labour laws, and a Chinese style labour market?

by Ross on January 19, 2016
Ross

I was surprised that Josie, and not David Farrar, had written this post as it's exactly what David would say.

Josie, instead of criticising the TPPA critics, you'd be better off explaining why this trade deal is necessary. In particular you might like to explain what it will bring for the low paid and beneficiaries. Will it help to close the pay gap with Australia? Will we see a large increase in the minimum wage as a result? Will will see a substantial increase in living standards? 

Have other trade deals brought about significant improvements in the living standards of the low paid? Have you done any analysis at all into this question?

by Nick Gibbs on January 19, 2016
Nick Gibbs

@ Andrew,

Oh - and here's The Economist on concerns with ISDS provisions. If only they knew that TINA.

I read the article and learnt that yet again opponents of trade agreements assert lots lots but provide not evidence to validate their assertions. So what if Germany wanted to close down their nuclear reactors and had to compensate a utility company with a huge investment in that industry. When National created the new marine parks they compensated commercial fishers for the privilege - do you disgree agree with that?

If the govt decided to put a road through your house they would have to remunerate you at market value. Or would you on principle insist they simple confiscate your property?

ISDS are the the same principle in operation at an international level. What's wrong with that. If the Greens decide that soft drinks are to be made illegal then all those with an investment in soft drinks should be compensated. That will make such a law hard to sell politically but not compensating the owners for their confiscated property is simply theft. Something socialists are often accused of - and for good reason it seems.



by Wayne Mapp on January 19, 2016
Wayne Mapp

There seems to be a view by some on the Left that the new default position of the Left, including Labour, is to be opposed to trade and investment agreements generally. That by definition since such agreements will often include the worlds largest economies, they will be loaded in favour of global corporates. On this measure the various WTO agreements of 1994 (which cover far more than traditional tariff reductions) would have also been resisted.

Well, to be fair Jane Kelsey did oppose the WTO settlement. Jane certainly has a deep understanding of the detail of trade agreements, but on the big issue of whether to support or oppose, she has always opposed, presumably on the basis that the various trade and investment agreements have facilitated the growth of global corporations. As far as I can tell, open trade and investment is seen by the opponents as part of the despised neo-liberal project.

However, Labour has traditionally been in favour of relatively open and free trade. It is the Greens who have always been opposed, particularly the socialist and indigenous strand of the Greens. Marama Davidson in particular is furiously agitating against TPP in her most recent statements.

It seems to me that what we are seeing is something of a struggle for Labour's soul. It is not is fevered as in the UK, because many erstwhile "Corbynites" already have their political home in the Greens.

For those activists in Labour who are opposed to TPP, I do think they need to set out what sort of economy they see for New Zealand. After all TPP is happening. The Labour activists against TPP presumably do have an alternative view of the New Zealand economy that would not have New Zealand in the TPP. What is that alternative?

I don't think this obligation sits with the Greens. They have a well established nativist craft based vision (but with some high tech) for the New Zealand economy.

But the Left of Labour has not described such an alternative. It won't be a Green vision, since it presumably it embraces much of the traditional New Zealand economy, including agriculture, and its associated processing works. It must also include the equivalents of Hillside workshops, but is suspicious of Sir Peter Jackson's approach to film making. In short how does the Left of Labour see the New Zealand economy evolving when most of our key trading partners are in TPP?

 

 

by Anne on January 19, 2016
Anne

"Anne the reason I don't join the National party is because I don't support National." 

Well Joise, you do a strong impression of supporting most of what the National-led government does, and an equally noticeable tendency to attack the left-of-centre parties at every opportunity - in particular Labour and Labour leaders. It's no surprise many find your stance ambiguous to say the very least.

Of course Helen Clark supports trade agreements. I don't know of a political party or a politician in NZ who doesn't. But what I guarantee she doesn't support is the removal of our sovereign rights as a nation to pass laws that are in the best interest of NZ citizens - be they of Asian, African or European backgrounds.

by onsos on January 19, 2016
onsos

 

The alternative presented was clear: Don't sign.

Another alternative has been presented by Labour: re-negotiate with the option of unilaterally abrogating commitments.

But the onus was on National and other proponents to present the benefits of the TPPA. They haven't. The benefits, as shown, are  damp squib.

by onsos on January 19, 2016
onsos

Hellow Wayne--it's good to have you here.

The opposition to the TPP from people on the Left, and inside Labour, who normally support free trade agreements is reflection of the TPP itself. The case has not been effectively made that it will actually promote free trade to a meaningful extent, and the case has been made that it comes with significant fish-hooks.

There has been a repeated assertion that departure from the TPP would be disastrous, but it is not clear how. The alternative is to continue with what NZ has done well--form bi-lateral trade agreements.

by Nick Gibbs on January 19, 2016
Nick Gibbs

@ Onsos

"The case has not been effectively made that it will actually promote free trade to a meaningful extent"

Again, an assertion is made and not accompanied by any evidence or justification. Helen Clark clearly thinks the TPPA will have a huge impact on trade in this region, and just why are bi-lateral trade agreements so innocuous while regional trade agreements are so deadly.

 

 


by mikesh on January 19, 2016
mikesh

 

Whilst I think "free trade" is generally a good thing, I think we should nevertheless be free to protect in the interests, say, of conserving overseas funds or promoting employment. I also think the government should be able to legislate to protect health, or for moral reasons eg combating global warming. Of course some of the measures we take in these areas may turn out to have been unwise, but I'd rather we made our own mistakes than have them made for us by overseas interests. In other words we should be able to pursue these sorts of concerns without having to fear being sued by overseas parties.

 

 

by Ian MacKay on January 19, 2016
Ian MacKay

USA apparently gets little from TPPA. Except there is a clause that says business should/must interact with others who are inside TPPA. So surprise. China is not a member so business can be censured for dealing with them.

"[The TPPA] opens up trade between members but makes trade more difficult with non-members through a process known as "cumulative rules of origin" where members lose privileges if they source inputs from countries outside the TPP."

So I guess Josie Pagani's drive for increasing the National/Act membership has an ulterior motive.

by Anne on January 19, 2016
Anne

"For those activists in Labour who are opposed to TPP, I do think they need to set out what sort of economy they see for New Zealand. After all TPP is happening. The Labour activists against TPP presumably do have an alternative view of the New Zealand economy that would not have New Zealand in the TPP. What is that alternative?"

Andrew Little has spelled out recently that Labour does have an alternative view of the NZ economy which will NOT include some of the more draconian provisions within the TPP. He promised their economic policy will be quite different to what has been on offer in the past, and it will become clear as the year progresses what that policy will be. So just be patient Wayne. 

Whether Labour would re-negotiate aspects of the TPP or whether they simply ignore the unpalatable provisions is yet to be determined, but one thing is certain... it is now an official Labour Party undertaking to oppose the TPP agreement as it is presently constituted. 

Nice attempted spin to suggest otherwise from both you and Josie though.

 

 


by onsos on January 20, 2016
onsos

@ Nick Gibbs

The problems with the TPP are clear. The onus is on boosters to show benefits. The World Bank has indicated that these are marginal at best--a 10% boost to exports over 30 years. That's chump change.

by Murray Grimwood on January 20, 2016
Murray Grimwood

No, Josie, opponents haven't 'been vague about their alternatives'.

But your wee diatribe tells us a lot about what I presume is the mediocre-right end of Labour. Not that the left end are addressing the issues either.

The sad joke is that globalisation was a one-shot, easy-fossil-fuelled bonanza. It hasn't been recognised as such; apparently folk can't get their heads around the difference between money and real wealth, nor can they get that they need not be slaves to the chargers of compound interest.

Most of all, nobody seems to understand that future energy is required to fund today's debt, which means that growth-based finance is doomed.No capex proposition makes it past a bank at $30 a barrel. So how long do we coast before the fall, at 4-6% depletion-rates? This has to be a fools limbo.

Which can only lead to 'less' and 'local'. Oh, and war. Whether the corporate vampires can outlive the growth phase is the only intelligent querstion worth asking, at this point.

I say they can't - that for all the 'free market' hype, the cancer needs a body to feed on.

by Wisdumb on January 20, 2016
Wisdumb

As in your (Ms Pagani’s) first reply to Rich: “You need to come up with some other explanation for why trade between our countries accelerated after the FTA was signed ...”    

One big driver was the melamine scandal, which broke out in China in mid 2008.  (The NZ-China FTA came into force in October 2008.)  Another driver was the epochal demographic-economic transformation that China was going through.  Only NZ had an FTA but in the face of these other two phenomena, all countries exporting dairy products to China gained hugely.  Over the period 2009-2014, NZ increased its sales of whole milk powder by 390% but Australia increased the same by 200% with no FTA.  NZ increased its exports of skim milk powder to China by 250%, but the USA and Australia, with no FTA, increased their sales by 820% and 168%, respectively.  In bulk and packaged milk, NZ increased its exports to China by 1300% but Germany, (Germany!)  increased its exports by 8,360% and Australia increased its sales by 2,670%. <http://www.clal.it/en/?section=stat_cina>  (Use the red sub-links labelled TOP Exporters.) 

 

So much for the specious argument that the China FTA created the NZ China dairy sales boom and therefore that the TPP will do likewise for NZ in other places.  Not only that, but this validates Rich’s alternative strategy to the TPP - China bought what it wanted and needed regardless of any FTA.      

 

“So, critics, where is this fecund and enriching alternative.”

Critics know it as the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP).  This incorporates the ten ASEAN nations, namely Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam, with six others that have a bilateral trade agreement with an ASEAN member, namely Australia, China, India, Japan Korea and New Zealand.  The RCEP aims to harmonise then modernise the complex web of members’ existing trade agreements while specifically staying user-friendly for its developing nation members.  Consequently there is no ISDS in the RCEP; ISDS is not a TINA.

The population within RCEP totals 3 billion+, the GDP is approx. US$17 trillion, and it “accounts for about 40% of world trade.”  (All Wikipedia.)  I’m not saying that the RCEP is the complete answer but it certainly offers NZ greater potential for economic growth than the TPP and consolidates us more thoroughly in our hemisphere than the patchwork TPP.  Incidentally, the RCEP also contains six of the twelve TPP states. Ms Pagani’s argument of isolation if we don’t ratify the TPP is unsupportable.

Given the information the original post has generated, I suggest that the divide that Ms Pagani is wrestling with is not Left v. Right, or Sign vs Don’t Sign, but Informed v. Ill-informed.  Only if participants on all sides are properly informed can the debate move to the real issue – potential economic gain versus potential foreign corporate white-anting of democracy and sovereignty in New Zealand.  If time permits.

by Funny Coils on January 20, 2016
Funny Coils

sorry, it posted by accident...

Andrew your tone about arbitration panels is sneering and patronising, but the content is quite misleading. There is no court system that could possibl apply. You can't use territorial courts. Therefore you need to have an ad hoc system. The global system of arbitration by senior lawyers - who have to be as qualified as judges - is well established. These tribunals apply a well established body of law. This is the way many commercial trade disputes are routinely handled the world over. 

Here is a data base of case law on arbitration.http://www.uncitral.org/uncitral/en/case_law.html and there is a pretty good discussion on issues around arbitration here: http://www.europarl.europa.eu/RegData/bibliotheque/briefing/2014/130710/LDM_BRI(2014)130710_REV2_EN.pdf - that indicates a system that works well. 
But let’s stipulate that the dispute arbitration system could be better. (You haven’t shown that, but let's concede for the sake of argument.) That would be entirely valid debate about what should be in the TPP and how it should be constituted. Instead, the debate has been ‘the TPP is evil because it contains this clause’ with the impliation (stated outright by Andrew Little) that it shouldn't be signed because of this. But if you say 'don't sign', then you have to weigh the consequences aganst what happens next. This is Josie's argument, as I understand it. She is pointing out the weakness of arguent against the TPP that assumes a future similar to the status quo. The post was about whether the TPP should be signed or not, and highlights the tendency to speak of the agreement as if it were only a negative - when that is naive. Any negotiation is going to intrinsically require that we accept some things we don't want in exchange for some that we do. Foot stamping, sneering and patronising doesn’t change that fundamental equation. Most of the commenters here have displayed exactly the argument Josie critiques, exaggerating the problems with the agreement, ignoring the costs of alternatives to signing it, comporting themselves as if there were no upside at all, and remaining silent about what to do if it is signed - that is, about whether you would withdraw once it is signed. Since signing is imminent, on Feb 4 according to radio today, then campaigning against the inevitable is the acme of virtue signalling gesture politics as Josie says.
by mikesh on January 21, 2016
mikesh

Any overseas party suing us for some breach of the ISDS clause would, in effect, be suing the crown. So an Andrew Little lead government could refuse to allow taxpayer funds to be used to pay any damages imposed, and could suggest instead that the bill be passed to Buckingham Palace for payment. Elizabeth Regina would not exactly be chuffed at that idea.

by Andrew Geddis on January 21, 2016
Andrew Geddis

@Funny Coils,

What you call "foot stamping, sneering and patronising", I call honestly recognising what it is that is we're getting ourselves into. After all, you accept that there are less-than-optimal aspects to the TPP ("Any negotiation is going to intrinsically require that we accept some things we don't want in exchange for some that we do.") So why get tetchy when those "things we don't want" get laid out for discussion? There's plenty of people out there selling the "good" of this deal - the Government is going to spend a heap of money on "roadshows" around the country to do so. So it's not as if it's only one-way traffic in the discussion.

As for the general underlying argument "it's going to happen anyway, so just accept it" ... no. I won't. That's a terrible maxim for life in general.

Oh - also, that EU Parliament briefing paper isn't quite as pro-ISDS as you make out. Might want to actually read it again.

 
by Ross on January 21, 2016
Ross

A former economist at the Reserve Bank has expressed concerns with the TPPA. He quotes research out of Australia which expresses scepticsm with free trade deals. I suspect Josie hasn't bothered to read this research. The criticisms expressed by the APC are similar to what we have heard here. In particular, free trade deals are often over-hyped, the benefits aren't as great as predicted, the costs are higher than expected, the ISDS provisions are potentially an onerous burden, intellectuall property protection imposes costs without commensurate benefits, and the negotiation process is time consuming and expensive. Importantly, such deals are complex and current processes or analysis do not provide a good understanding of the net impacts. In other words, we are left with politicians telling us to trust them. That isn't good enough.

http://croakingcassandra.com/2015/06/25/trade-agreements-tpp-and-the-australian-productivity-commission/

by Wisdumb on January 21, 2016
Wisdumb

@ Funny Coils 20 January 2016

If tone were an issue, I would say that Josie Pagani’s post declared patronisingly, or scornfully: “Harden up, you left wing wankers and find reasons to support the TPP.”    

@ Funny Coils 20 January 2016 to Andrew Geddis 18 January 2016   

Re ISDS,  I have browsed through blogs, news items, and official reports on the TPP for NZ Australia Malaysia, Canada, and the United States for the last two years and I have never seen anything so grievously wrong as Ms Pagani’s view of  ISDS arbitral tribunals.

At the same time, Andrew Geddis has given the most succinct explanation that I have come across of the highly significant constitutional and jurisprudential differences between ISDS, which is merely arbitration, and a sovereign court of law.

@ JP reply to AG, 18 January, claiming ISDS as “state of the art,” and   @ Funny Coils, 20 January. 

In September 2015, the EU announced that following thorough consultation at all levels of European governments, official bodies, and the public, it will establish an International Investment Court to replace ISDS for all future Trade/Investment agreements including the TTIP.   

The new Investment Court system will be composed of fully qualified judges, proceedings will be transparent, and cases will be decided on the basis of clear rules.  In addition, the Court will be subject to review by a new Appeal Tribunal.  With this new system, we protect the governments’ right to regulate and ensure that investment disputes will be adjudicated in full accordance with the rule of law.  See here.  

Not one of these features of a standard legal system is provided in the ISDS process.  

by Peggy Klimenko on January 22, 2016
Peggy Klimenko

Josie: "nor have they discovered any other nugget that sustains their vilification of the trade pact."

Oh, I dunno. Setting aside the fish hooks in the Investment Chapter - ably pointed out by others - there's this:

www.mfat.govt.nz/assets/_securedfiles/trans-pacific-partnership/text/3.-...

What are the implications for our FTA with China? You yourself have pointed out that it is worth a good deal of money to NZ.

Reading your piece and your various responses, I note a distinctly patronising tone. Snippets such as this:

"...failed to produce a clause showing the agreement requires each of us to surrender our first born to the corporate masters of neo-liberalism..."

this:

"protest is nothing more than gesture politics"

and this:

"so, critics, where is this fecund and enriching alternative?"

And a number of others.

Andrew has responded - very politely, I thought - to your assertion of  "virtue signalling". He's right about that. We can disagree with each other, and with you, without the need for put-downs and comments that skate close to ad hom-ery. I expect better of those who post articles here.

And many of us do indeed disagree with you; there are aspects of the TPPA which make us very uneasy. Signing may well be inevitable, but since when would - or ought - that to be a bar to citizens making their displeasure known by way of protest? We may not be able to stop it, but we don't have to like it. And, begob, we can make sure the government knows how we feel!

by Oliver Hailes on January 22, 2016
Oliver Hailes

I'm relieved to have discovered this blog a few days late - I've been spared the exhausting task of rehearsing truisms of which the author ought to know a little more (some excellent comments above). Let's mop up the slops.

"The use of International Dispute Resolutions Systems is best practice in international agreements these days."

This tortured reference to Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS, not ISRS) betrays an ignorance of a growing ocean of literature from economists, lawyers, political scientists etc. Even practising international investment lawyers (e.g. George Kahale, Juan Fernández-Armesto) have expressed deep concern, describing ISDS as "seriously flawed" and needing "a complete overhaul".

http://www.curtis.com/siteFiles/Publications/8TH%20Annual%20Juris%20Inve...

Moreover, since this post appeared its assumed economic benefits (for which we are to swallow some ugly constitutional changes) have been independently analysed by a team of experts - the report card isn't glowing.

https://tpplegal.files.wordpress.com/2015/12/ep5-economics.pdf

As for progressive alternatives, many contributors are attempting to sketching new paths to prosperity. See, for example, the excellent pieces in this critical collection: http://www.cambridge.org/ca/academic/subjects/politics-international-relations/international-relations-and-international-organisations/new-constitutionalism-and-world-order

Someone must have the last word and I give it to Jane Kelsey. The Fire Economy is a tour de force, especially the blueprint for an alternative politico-legal trajectory offered in the final chapter ("Transformation").

by Ross on January 22, 2016
Ross

Some recent research findings about TPPA and its effects here. Its key points verbatim:

Modelling of the economic benefits of the TPPA for New Zealand, commissioned by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT), predicts an increase in GDP of 0.9% by 2030 or $2.7 billion.

These benefits are modest - extrapolating from current growth rates, GDP would increase by 47% by 2030 without the TPPA or 47.9% with the TPPA.

Estimates of the gains from tariff reductions are less than a quarter of the projected benefits according to the modelling, and are exaggerated.

Most of the projected benefits result from reducing Non-Tariff Barriers (NTBs) – these rely on inadequate information that neither identifies the NTBs that would be reduced by the TPPA nor distinguishes between protectionist measures and legitimate government regulation.

According to recent modelling, the TPPA is projected to result in a reduction in employment and an increase in income inequality for New Zealand.

The government has not included the costs that are likely to result from the TPPA in its analysis - these are likely to be significant, and may outweigh the economic benefits.

A comprehensive and objective cost-benefit analysis should be undertaken before signing or ratifying the TPPA.

Gains for agricultural producers are small compared to fluctuations in commodity prices and exchange rates.

Restrictions on labelling through the TPPA’s Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures may restrict opportunities for New Zealand food exporters to build a high quality, differentiated market position.

Significant tariff barriers remain in the dairy sectors of Japan, Canada and the US - these are likely to be ‘locked in’ under the TPPA and more difficult to remove in future.

Regional trade agreements such as the TPPA will undermine negotiations on agriculture in the World Trade Organisation, which is only realistic forum to reduce the massive agricultural subsidies that distort agricultural markets.

The TPPA will both help and hinder New Zealand’s ambitions to add value to our raw materials and commodities, and climb up value chains – more analysis is required.

The benefits of the TPPA are likely to be asymmetric - the TPPA is favourable to the business model and practices of US multinationals and may exacerbate the disadvantages of New Zealand’s size and remoteness.

The potential threat from cases under the TPPA’s Investor State Dispute Settlement is likely to create a chilling effect on New Zealand governments’ laws and policies.

The delay in implementing plain packaging regulations for cigarettes in New Zealand is a current example of regulatory chill; regulation in sectors such as banking, energy, climate change, transport, environmental protection and mining may be subject to threat from potential ISDS cases.

Potential compensation payments or settlements could far outweigh the limited economic benefits from the TPPA; even if cases are successfully defended, the legal costs are onerous. 

The TPPA’s coverage is far from comprehensive and its US-centric rules on intellectual property, services and dispute settlement mean that it is unlikely to be the model adopted by China or the EU.

The TPPA would limit governments’ ability to innovate and address deeply entrenched inequalities in health, education and income, and exacerbate rapidly escalating problems such as environmental degradation and climate change. The TPPA falls short of being “a trade agreement for the 21st Century” as its proponents claim. 

https://tpplegal.files.wordpress.com/2015/12/ep5-economics.pdf

by Nick Gibbs on January 22, 2016
Nick Gibbs

@ Oliver,

Thanks some informative links there. However even looking at problems with MFN and METs, these are written into our china and korean trade deals. Why no problems with these? And in any case Andrew Little assures me if we have defective judgements against NZ we can simply up and leave the agreement. Is that not true?

In any case BITs seem to be part of the future (with 3000 already being signed) and amendments and improvements are being made. I believe the TPPA negotiators have recognised some of the problem areas and moved to mitigate them. I also understand that the treaty will be updated like CER has been and flaws and failings remedied. In short the hazards presented by ISDS can be negotiated. 

But if you oppose the the TPPA because it is a neo-liberal tool, well there's no negotiating that away.

 

 

by Oliver Hailes on January 23, 2016
Oliver Hailes

@ Nick

The key point of distinction with earlier ISDS provisions is that the TPPA carves open pathways for more litigious investors - the US is the most frequent home state by a country mile:

http://unctad.org/en/PublicationsLibrary/webdiaepcb2015d1_en.pdf

In terms of investments treaties being the way of the future, it is important to note that a number of prominent states have taken steps to renounce or renegotiate their commitments (including Argentina, South Africa, India, Indonesia, Bolivia, Ecuador, Venezuela - from the top of my head).

You've touched on the essential point, namely that the negotiations inevitably occurred within parameters defined by the dominant politico-economic paradigm. For example, as an olive branch to critics, the final text allows parties to rule out ISDS challenges over tobacco control measures. The problem was defined and solved by reference to the established coordinates of neoliberal globalisation. But protesters presented the threat to tobacco control as a mere symptom of a broken system, not the sole concern. They were deprived of the broader goal of their protest in the guise of accepting their demand.


While signing in February is not the end of the world, for many critics it signals the beginning of the end. It is possible to turn back. But the more steps we take down a certain road, the harder it is to adopt (or imagine) a different path. The TPPA has become a site of contestation because growing enclaves of resistance no longer like the direction we are heading. The expectation that progressive efforts will be foreclosed or suffocated is supported by the glaring omission of any reference to climate change in Chapter 20 (Environment Chapter). One can only assume this is due to the denialist camp in US domestic politics and the interests of transnational capital because TPPA negotiators were well equipped to tackle the tension between ISDS and climate change thanks to Gus Van Harten's scholarly efforts:

http://poseidon01.ssrn.com/delivery.php?ID=67209011200908408010812608902...

by Brendon Mills on January 24, 2016
Brendon Mills

What the TPPA will lead to:

Lower wages and less conditions, as corporations sue us for having sick leave, minimum wages, etc.

Higher unemployment

Less social housing, so an increase in homelessness

Less air quality in air and water standards, when health and environmental legislation is forced down to the level of poorer Asian nations (same with Labour laws).

End of the right to join a union

Privatised water reticulation

Privatised health and education

more user pays

The privatisation of our national parks

More privatisation full stop.

In short, misery for a lot of people.

 

How is that progressive?

 

 

by Brendon Mills on January 24, 2016
Brendon Mills

Power prives will be higher too.

by Charlie on January 26, 2016
Charlie

Josie: Thanks for an excellent article.

It is the most clear and reasoned piece I've seen so far on the subject.

 

 

 

by Goldie on January 28, 2016
Goldie

Opponents of the TPP should also consider the cost of not signing up to the TPP.

If New Zealand does not sign the TPP New Zealand exporters will continue to be subject to tariffs in TPP markets. However, signatory countries such as Australia and Chile will essentially have open markets. This will place NZ exporters at a considerable relative disadvantage in TPP markets.

A small example of how this will work has been in Japan. A few years ago Australia gained a big reduction in beef tariffs, whereas NZ did not. The result was that Australian beef exporters were able to cut the price and drive NZ out of what had been a $200 million market for NZ beef. There are other examples with kiwifruit, meat to Korea, and others, but the lesson is obvious - if a competitor gains a significant tariff advantage, our exporters get driven out of the market. Not gaining the same preferential market access as our competitors has a very negative impact on NZ exports.

If NZ was not to sign the TPP (or withdraw from the TPP) it would mean that NZ exporters would find themselves at a considerable relative disadvantage in selling to TPP markets. In effect we would be driven out of the TPP markets by our Australian and Chilean competitors. The negative impact on the NZ economy would be huge.

 

Signing vs. not signing the TPP is not a simple matter of economic growth versus the status quo economy. It is economic growth versus very considerable downsides to the NZ economy.

 

by KJT on January 30, 2016
KJT

Ms Pagani is the one who is naif.

For a start. Australia has had a similar rise in trade to China. Without a FTA!

And! without sacrificing all their workers.

The China FTA ran to over 7 billion in reciprocal trade last year. The cost of remedying the damage to our rivers, from dairying alone, is estimated at 15 billion dollars.

However. Like most "free trade" advocates, Ms Pagani is incapable of seeing that a ledger has two sides.

ISDS provisions have already blocked New Zealand from taking the public health measure of plain packaging on cigarettes, stopped India from preferring local solar and alternative power providers, cost Germany huge amounts for retricting nuclear power, blocked increases in minimum wages, in at least two countries where they affect company profits, stopped us from restricting Chinese profiteering on houses..................... The list goes on and on.

 

The TPPA will restrict almost any legislation which stops US profiteering on New Zealand, or increases workers rights, or increases environmental protections,  or to re-nationalise banking, rail, power or any other industry, in the public interest.

After it is signed, any future Government, will have to look first at potential costs before the democratic best interests of New Zealanders.

 

 

 

by KJT on January 30, 2016
KJT

Ms Pagani is the one who is naif.

For a start. Australia has had a similar rise in trade to China. Without a FTA!

And! without sacrificing all their workers.

The China FTA ran to over 7 billion in reciprocal trade last year. The cost of remedying the damage to our rivers, from dairying alone, is estimated at 15 billion dollars.

However. Like most "free trade" advocates, Ms Pagani is incapable of seeing that a ledger has two sides.

ISDS provisions have already blocked New Zealand from taking the public health measure of plain packaging on cigarettes, stopped India from preferring local solar and alternative power providers, cost Germany huge amounts for retricting nuclear power, blocked increases in minimum wages, in at least two countries where they affect company profits, stopped us from restricting Chinese profiteering on houses..................... The list goes on and on.

 

The TPPA will restrict almost any legislation which stops US profiteering on New Zealand, or increases workers rights, or increases environmental protections,  or to re-nationalise banking, rail, power or any other industry, in the public interest.

After it is signed, any future Government, will have to look first at potential costs before the democratic best interests of New Zealanders.

 

 

 

by KJT on January 30, 2016
KJT

The TPPA sets the dysfunctional and totally disproved Neo-Liberal paradigm in concrete.

Corporate profit and rule over the rights to Democracy.

It is a silent coup. Unlike the bit of rag we fly, the TPPA will bind us to rule by overseas owners with money, forever.

What we are not allowed to vote on.

TPPA.

Child poverty.

Extended police powers and surveillance.

Canterbury water supply and rebuild.

Privatisation.

Education.

 

What we are allowed to vote on:

The flag!

 

Hat tip to "Occupy".

 

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