“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.

Reject the CPTPP. No matter what way you spin it, the CPTPP is still the same old TPP. Adding a couple of extra letters to the acronym and suspending a few clauses until the US decides to rejoin the agreement don’t make any difference. It wasn’t good enough before the election and it’s not good enough now.

If our government is serious about wanting to make a difference, they must start as they mean to go on. Our much touted ‘nuclear free moment’ did not happen by letting a few nuclear powered ships visit because they were booked in, or even by acquiescing to the US neither-confirm-nor-deny policy, because it might affect trade with the US or other countries opposed to our policy. David Lange laid it on the line. New Zealand would be nuclear free. Unsurprisingly, the rest of the world coped and New Zealand even earned a grudging admiration for standing up for what we believed in.

We need to do this again over trade agreements. Signing the agreements in the pipeline, while saying they are going to do things differently in the future, is a cop out. If our government is not brave enough to pull the plug now, they never will be. The status quo will remain. This is ironic, because the majority of New Zealanders voted for change.

New Zealanders want trade that respects the planet, and workers, producers, and consumers everywhere. The CPTPP only respects corporates’ rights to make profits at the expense of the planet, workers, producers, and consumers.

Our government knew what they had to do, before the election. They must not let themselves be talked out of this by wealthy people who didn’t vote for them.

To make a difference requires having the courage to do things differently. Our government has the mandate. They need to take a deep breath and get on with it.

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