It is ironic that New Zealanders are holding a discussion about our national flag, the symbol of our sovereignty, when our government is handing our country to multi national corporations, quite literally on a plate.
The recent push by crown entity Health Benefits Ltd to have all hospital and community food services such as Meals on Wheels provided by Compass Group nationwide is part of a concerted effort to open up public services to multi national corporations.
This is a continuation of the privatization agenda that began three decades ago, but is being stepped up a notch lately with the push for multi-country free trade agreements such as the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) and Trades in Services Agreement (TISA).
TISA aims to help potential multinational service providers by seeking to remove barriers to supplying services to international markets. Some of the ways of doing this are: by removing requirements to work in joint venture with local firms, by reducing licensing requirements or ‘burdensome’ registration procedures, and removing quotas on numbers of foreign staff.
The twelfth round of TISA negotiations is scheduled for 6-10 July 2015. The TPP, with its investor state dispute settlement provisions that could see us sued by corporations for doing anything to reduce their profits, could be signed in the next few months also.
New Zealanders are being encouraged to discuss what we stand for and how this should be reflected in our flag. This is a good discussion to have as a country. Democracy, equality, fairness, and justice are the common threads to emerge.
But if we sign up to TISA or the TPP our flag will not stand for anything. We will be governed by multinational corporations. And they stand for one thing – making as much money out of our country as possible for their directors and shareholders.
Democracy, fairness, equality, and justice will not get a look in. Our flag will be a flag of convenience no matter what design we choose. Perhaps the white flag of surrender would best represent what the country stands for.