The government would have us think the TPP is a done deal, and we must make the best of it. Nothing could be further from the truth. All that has happened is that negotiations over the text of the deal have been concluded. So now we know, or will soon know, what we are up against.
The US must release the text of the deal within the next month. This means whether our government likes it or not, we will have access to the text as well. This is when the fight begins.
Fletcher Tabuteau is first off the blocks with “The International Transparent Treaties Bill”. This will give Parliament or Select Committees the right to examine and review the terms of the TPP and other international treaties, and change the law so international treaties are discussed and approved by Parliament before signing. As it stands, the deal can be signed off by Cabinet without any input from opposition parties or the general public.
The next opportunity comes with the first flag referendum. Ballot papers will be sent out in November. Why let the government waste tens of millions of dollars on a referendum you don’t want? Turn it into the one we have been denied. Make the referendum a TPP referendum instead.
Anyone who doesn’t want to change the flag, or doesn’t like any of the five designs offered up, should ignore the questions on the flag and put the message on the ballot paper ‘I say no to the TPP’. The vote will be declared invalid, but the number of invalid votes will be released. This would give the government and the public a clear message about the number of people who care a whole lot more about the TPP than changing the flag.
There will be a second ballot in early 2016 giving two options: keep the present flag, or change it to the most popular option from the first ballot. So no one would be giving away their chance to influence whether or not we change our flag.
We know that the TPP and Climate Action are incompatible. The TPP will let fossil fuel companies and other big polluters sue governments if they pass laws that put preventing climate change before their profits. The beginning of December sees another round of talks on the UN Convention on Climate Change. We need to make sure our delegates get the message that we want to see decent targets for reducing emissions and we don’t want a bar of anything that will stop them being able to do this.
Finally, any law changes required to comply with TPP conditions will have to go before parliament. We know already there will have to be changes to the Customs Act and to our copyright laws. There will be others. All will have to be opposed vigorously. Make no mistake, it’s going to be a busy 2016.