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

Trade Agreements For The 21st Century

The world has changed significantly since the emergence of ‘free’ trade in the 1980s. In 2017 tariffs are the least of our worries.

We now know that the earth’s resources are finite and are being used up much faster than they can be replenished.

We know that carbon dioxide emissions are set to cause catastrophic climate change if we do not act quickly to reduce them. Continue reading

Time To End The Love Affair With Profit

Profit – what’s left over after all the expenses are paid, that’s all it is. But it has achieved cult status in the last few decades – since gambling on the share market became a favourite sport for those with a few dollars to spare.

Profit, or potential to make a profit, determines the size of the dividend shareholders get each year. CEOs’ reputations, and salaries, are based on their ability to keep growing the profits of the organization they spearhead.

But profit means only one thing, exploitation. Workers are paid too little. Consumers are charged too much. Natural resources are acquired too cheaply and/or shortcuts are taken around health and safety and environmental protection. And it means not sharing ideas and information that could improve the lives of people everywhere. Ever-increasing profit usually means exploitation in all of these areas. Continue reading

Crime And Punishment Is Not An Election Issue

Do we want to reduce crime in this country? If so, electioneering politicians should butt out. ‘Getting tough’ on criminals, such a popular election year mantra, is nothing like the same as reducing crime. To mete out a tough punishment means waiting until a crime is committed – a bit late for the victim of the crime.

Crime has been trending downwards for the past decade or so. Despite that, most people having the impression that crime rates are going up. We are wasting money on more prisons – and now Boot Camps. They are just vote catchers for the National/ACT government. Continue reading