No Ownership Of Ideas

New ideas don’t come out of thin air. They build on information that is already in the public domain, provided by past generations of innovative thinkers and on public education systems that teach people the skills they need to extend existing thinking.

If ever there was a time when new ideas were needed, it is now. The biggest problem facing the planet is climate change. And it is unique, in that if everyone doesn’t adopt measures to combat global warming, no one will be safe. What we do as individuals, or individual countries, is useless unless everyone elsewhere follows suit. This has major implications. Continue reading

The T words: Trade, Tariffs, Trump

The mainstream media in New Zealand presents the argument that New Zealand and the other countries involved in TPP negotiations over tariff-free trade/the best ways to increase corporate profits, represent the progressive way of the future. US President Donald Trump, in deciding to reintroduce tariffs, is going backwards.

Tariffs are an affront to neoliberalism and as such cannot be condoned by mainstream economists. All the more reason, even though it is Donald Trump who has raised the issue, we should go there. We should have the conversation we should have had in 1984 when our politicians decided, unilaterally, that tariff-free trade was the answer to the universe. Or at the least the question of why New Zealand couldn’t sell mutton to countries that already had their own sheep? Continue reading

What Does Oppose Really Mean?

As expected, our government has signed the CPTPP in Chile, despite its misgivings about the remaining ISDS clause. Both David Parker and Jacinda Ardern are on record as saying they are not completely happy with the ISDS provisions that remain in the CPTPP. David Parker has said that New Zealand will “oppose including ISDS in any future trade agreements involving New Zealand.” Prime Minister Ardern has intimated the same.

Labour and New Zealand First have given mixed messages on the CPTPP (TPP in its former life). They were opposed before the election. They support it now, albeit with some misgivings. So it would be good to clarify exactly what the government means when it says it will “oppose” including ISDS clauses in future trade agreements. Continue reading

“Start As You Mean To Go On”

Our new Prime Minister, a soon-to-be new mum, has challenged our mindset about what a PM can and cannot do – in a good way. And Prime Minister Ardern has made all the right noises about wanting changes in other areas too. She wants to reduce poverty and inequality and prevent climate change. She wants her government to make a difference. We want her government to make a difference.

The government says it wants to rethink the way we do trade in the future. We want the government to rethink the way we do trade too. But we want the government to rethink the way we do trade now. Continue reading

TPP – Let’s Not Do This Before We See The Fine Print

New Zealand wants to be able to trade with other countries. New Zealand needs to be able to trade with other countries. Likewise, other countries need to be able to trade with us. No one disputes that. But If New Zealand does not sign the TPP, trade will still occur. If New Zealand does not sign the TPP, no one will notice.

All we have been promised is that in a decade or so, if we sign the TPP, we will have better access to markets for our primary produce. Tariff removal does not have to happen overnight. A decade is a long time. A lot of things will change before then. In a decade New Zealand will hopefully not be so reliant on exporting dairy products. We may be much more interested in exporting to countries that are not part of this trade deal. Continue reading

‘Trade’ Treaties – Let’s Lose The Delusions of Grandeur

The main ‘trade’ deal on offer in 2018, the latest version of the TPP is, to all intents and purposes, the original version of the TPP without the US. Some of the clauses insisted on by the US have been ‘suspended’ but could be reactivated if and when the US decides to get back in the game.

Towards the end of 2017 the trade negotiators toured the country to publicize this latest version. They described it as the best deal they could negotiate for New Zealand. This is definitely not to be confused with the best deal for New Zealand. Continue reading

What To Do About Te Kuha?

The new Labour / New Zealand First / Greens government will be tested by the Buller District Council’s decision to grant resource consent to Stevenson mining to establish the Te Kuha mine, a 109 hectare coal mine not far from Westport. The mine will traverse public conservation land and land managed by the Buller District council.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has described climate change as her generation’s nuclear-free moment. It is a great soundbite, but if the new government is serious about climate change they have no choice but to overrule the Buller Council’s decision. We have to give up fossil fuels. The coal needs to stay in the ground. Continue reading

What Use Are Businesses That Don’t Pay Workers A Living Wage?

So the minimum wage is to increase by about $1 an hour each year to 2021. That’s approximately $2080 a year for a full time worker. Not exactly winning Lotto. It’s hard to see how anyone could object to that. Yet already there are claims that it will lead to job losses and worse. Continue reading

We Voted For Change. Will We Get It?

It looks like voters will find out sooner rather than later whether they really did get the change of government they voted for.

The TPP partners minus the US are to meet in Japan in the next two weeks to try to revive the deal. Sadly, it appears the content is the same as it has always been, from investor state dispute settlement clauses to lengthened copyright and patent times which will bump up the price of medicine. It is still just a tool to allow corporations, many of which are, ironically, US based, to impose their rules on democratically elected governments to maximise corporate profits.

Prior to becoming the government, the Greens, Labour, and NZ First all spoke out against the TPP. They agreed trade deals need a major overhaul to ensure they work in the best interests of the people and the environment, not big corporations. Based on what was said, it should be safe to assume that New Zealand will not even consider aligning itself with the deal as it stands. Continue reading