TPP and other fights at Labour’s conference

November 1st, 2013 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

’s affiliated unions have a role in the latest battle and are deeply suspicious of the , as are a group in the caucus including former deputy leader Grant Robertson and Te Atatu MP Phil Twyford.

The other group, championed by former Trade Minister Phil Goff, is willing to put greater faith in the upsides of TPP.

Labour’s TPP sceptics were bolstered by the passage of a remit at the Council of Trade Unions conference last month which simply stated: “That this conference opposes the Tran-Pacific Partnership Agreement.”

It was passed unanimously, with no speeches in opposition.

What is sad about this, is they are saying they are opposed to the TPP, regardless of what is in it!!

I have concerns over some of what US is asking for, but to declare outright opposition to the TPP regardless of what is finally agreed is ridiculous. To date the New Zealand negotiators have actually done a very good job in staying firm on issues such as intellectual property laws, with NZ’s position being not to agree to any provisions that would require a change in current NZ laws. I support them in this, and hope that position does not change.

The most intense debate on TPP is likely to occur when delegates talk about the Policy Platform – a new document of principles and values with which specific policy must be compatible.

The proposed wording on trade deals says: “We will only support trade agreements that protect New Zealand’s sovereign right to make law and regulations as we see fit.”

One of the questions is whether that means the party could not support a deal that reduced in any way New Zealand’s sovereign right to make law or whether it leaves wiggle room. It has been suggested that there may be amendments put in to toughen it up.

Mr Goff acknowledges the well-accepted precept that trade deals – along with every other international agreement – always reduce a country’s sovereignty.

“Not just trade negotiations but any international agreement we sign up to, including the International Convention on the Protection of Civil and Political Rights that removes our sovereign right to persecute people [and] the Convention Against Torture, which removes our sovereign right to torture people. There are a whole lot of things that involve the surrender of our sovereignty that every delegate at the party conference would actually approve.” 

Well done Phil Goff for explaining this point so rationally. Every single international agreement we sign up to, involves a reduction of sovereignty. We’ve agreed not to pursue mining in Antarctica, we’ve agreed not to pass a law allowing torture, we’ve agreed to not impose tariffs outside the WTO rules, we’ve agreed to comply with some international labour standards etc.

Anyone who opposes a trade deal on the basis that it may lead to a loss of sovereignty is being duplicitous or stupid. All international agreements are about countries agreeing to limit what they will or will not do. So the draft Labour Party platform would rule out every single trade deal ever negotiated.

You can of course withdraw from an international agreement, so a country still has final sovereignty, but there will be consequences (generally economic) if you do.

He said many people were concerned about the Australian case in which the Philip Morris tobacco company challenged – under the investor-state dispute clause of a free-trade agreement – the Government’s right to introduce plain packaging for cigarettes.

He also said the Australian case was the result of poor wording in a trade deal that NZ would never let through.

New Zealand has a good track record of negotiating agreements that have non-discrimination provisions, but still allow Governments to legislate on domestic issues such as plain packaging.

Mr Goff said he had been briefed by New Zealand’s chief TPP negotiator, David Walker, with the approval of Trade Minister Tim Groser, and he felt confident that New Zealand was fighting hard on core issues that, had there been a Labour Government, would have been the same.

“My understanding of what New Zealand’s position will be on this is that we would absolutely die in a ditch to protect our right to regulate or legislate in the public good and that is a bottom line,” Mr Goff said.

Kudos to Goff for saying this.

He will be its chief advocate at the party conference, but is not confident he will win the debate.

“I really don’t know, because delegates will have been exposed to all of the concerns about TPP but not about the advantages of it. That creates a challenge.”

Labour have turned their back on other areas that used to be bi-partisan such as Reserve Bank independence, so I’m expecting they will do the same here and vote against free trade (their draft policy platform would mean they couldn’t even support the China Free Trade Agreement they signed). However I also expect Labour to claim the outcome will mean different things to difference audiences They will tell the unions they are against the TPP and tell farmers they are for it.

Dr Damien Rogers writes on this issue:

A more immediate obstacle is the Labour Party’s Annual Conference in Christchurch this weekend, which presents Cunliffe with his first major set-piece opportunity as leader to communicate directly with the party faithful and, indirectly, to all potential voters. Repeating his recent performance at the Conference of Trade Unions – where a rabble-rousing oration to union “comrades” was hopelessly compromised when he conveyed contrary messages to the media waiting outside – is unlikely to suffice. Cunliffe’s politics of appeasing Labour’s special interest groups by separately telling each what they want to hear, but without engaging directly with the major challenges of the day, will be hard to maintain with his credibility intact.

So my prediction in line with this is the policy platform against free trade will go through with little or no changes, but Labour will try and make it sound like they are both for and against the TPP!

Also on the issue of the conference, Stuff provides this list of burning issues for the delegates:

  • Maori language made compulsory in state schools and teachers required to be competent in te reo
  • Privatised state assets renationalised with compensation based on “proven need”
  • The Government’s roads of national significance project dumped and the funds put into public transport
  • Teaching of civics and democracy mandatory for all school children
  • Laws to discourage excessive alcohol consumption, a review of the purchasing age, alcohol availability and an increase in the price of booze
  • Prisoners again getting the right to vote
  • A national sex and sexuality education programme dealing with sexual diseases, contraception methods, consent, sexual orientation and gender identity
  • New Zealand becoming a republic
  • An apology for the Foreshore and Seabed Act passed in 2004
  • A prohibition on school boards of trustees restricting same-sex partners from attending school balls
  • A Pasifika television station
  • A Maori language newspaper

Someone should move an amendment to the Foreshore and Seabed apology remit, including the details that the apology must be done in person by Helen Clark and Margaret Wilson!

Heh, Chris Finalyson is urging Labour delegates to vote for the remit:

Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations Minister Christopher Finlayson has encouraged delegates to support the rank-and-file conference remit that the Labour Party’s leadership apologise for passing the Foreshore and Seabed Act while in government under Helen Clark.

“I am glad that almost a decade after passing this shameful piece of legislation, which denied access to the courts to people based on race, the Labour Party is ready to discuss an apology,” Mr Finlayson said. …

“I would suggest that the Labour leadership also apologise for their the party’s abysmal treatment of Tariana Turia because of her principled stand over the issue,” he said.

“While they are at it, they should apologise for the way Helen Clark called Dr Pita Sharples, a man who has devoted his life to improving Māori educational achievement, a ‘hater and a wrecker’.”

“They should apologise that Ms Clark deliberately snubbed the 35,000 New Zealanders who made a hikoi to Parliament to protest that discriminatory legislation, preferring to pose for a photo opportunity with Shrek the sheep.”

I recall that hikoi. Snubbing it to meet a sheep probably cost Labour tens of thousands of votes.

Tags: ,

23 Responses to “TPP and other fights at Labour’s conference”

  1. chris (647 comments) says:

    teachers required to be competent in te reo

    And if they’re not or don’t want to be? I guess we say goodbye to a huge chunk of our teaching population, and the ability to educate our kids.

    Vote: Thumb up 18 Thumb down 1 You need to be logged in to vote
  2. Cato (1,095 comments) says:

    How about a remit that all teachers be required to be competent in English?

    Popular. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 24 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  3. Yoza (1,908 comments) says:

    And while they’re at it they should apologise to Tuhoe and all those who felt the heel of the jackboot during the Urewera raids; they should also apologise to Ahmed Zaoui for persecuting him on behalf of the Algerian military junta; and they should make that twisted bitch Lianne Dalziel apologise to that young Sri Lankan girl she forced out of the country.

    Vote: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 15 You need to be logged in to vote
  4. Longknives (4,884 comments) says:

    “A Maori language newspaper”

    Dear God why??

    Vote: Thumb up 17 Thumb down 1 You need to be logged in to vote
  5. duggledog (1,589 comments) says:

    Ha ha excellent. National should keep reminding NZers – especially Maori – of the Seabed & Foreshore legislation right through to the election next year. And other events

    Including

    Helen Clark’s lies such as Paintergate; speeding to rugby
    The legion of dodgy MPs she backed all the way till she couldn’t anymore including Philip Field
    The higher taxes for ‘rich pricks’ (me)
    The ‘closing the gaps’ election slogan reminiscent of ‘Yes We Can’ that saw them end their third term with greater inequality than when Labour took office
    The Electoral Finance Act
    Local Govt Act
    Somehow putting us into recession 3/4 before the GFC after best economic conditions since the war
    Massively increasing the public sector to the point you couldn’t rent office space in Wgtn for love nor money
    Election bribes such as WFF that allows 50 – 60% of NZers to pay no tax at all, buying back Kiwirail (disaster) and interest free student loans and Maori TV
    Airbrushed billboards
    The pledge card
    Corngate

    And so the list goes on and on and we know it anyway. Sure it’s not necessarily anything to do with Cunliffe but same party, same dead ideology.

    Do NZers want that shit again? Only if they forget. Key, Finlayson et al need to remind the NZ public on every platform at every opportunity, from TV debates to A & P shows

    Vote: Thumb up 19 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  6. alex Masterley (1,523 comments) says:

    ” A national sex and sexuality education program”
    Isn’t that grooming by another name?

    Vote: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 1 You need to be logged in to vote
  7. scrubone (3,105 comments) says:

    Cunliffe’s politics of appeasing Labour’s special interest groups by separately telling each what they want to hear, but without engaging directly with the major challenges of the day, will be hard to maintain with his credibility intact.

    It speaks volumes how out-of-touch he is with the way modern politics is conducted.

    Recall that Obama’s “clinging to guns and religion” comment was publicised by an insider, not a spy.

    Also, it’s disturbing just how much integrity Labour in general and Cunliffe in particular are willing to sacrifice for power.

    Vote: Thumb up 16 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  8. Sir Cullen's Sidekick (895 comments) says:

    Remember two things folks:

    (a) despite all that Labour won the 2005 election
    (b) Still Maori vote Labour and not National

    Vote: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 1 You need to be logged in to vote
  9. duggledog (1,589 comments) says:

    Longknives ‘dear god why?’

    For votes

    Honestly. Look if it doesn’t work out for Labour next year, their MPs could have an amazing career with Amway.

    Vote: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  10. Archer (215 comments) says:

    By a “Maori language newspaper” I take it Labour mean “a taxpayer funded Maori language newspaper”. If we don’t get the opportunity to buy a decent English language newspaper as things are now then I don’t think we should be extending the stable.

    I thought Cunliffe might not be as economically backward as Labour have behaved over the past few years but I guess that idea can go out the window. Why is it Goff is only talking sense now he is no longer leader?

    Vote: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  11. Sponge (237 comments) says:

    Those conference remits are a laundry list of stupidity.

    Vote: Thumb up 15 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  12. flipper (4,218 comments) says:

    Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0
    Sir Cullen’s Sidekick (339) Says:
    November 1st, 2013 at 3:26 pm
    Remember two things folks:

    (a) despite all that Labour won the 2005 election

    ******

    And that multi zillion dollar student loan bribe….. ??????

    Up Y A

    Vote: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  13. OneTrack (3,229 comments) says:

    “Maori language made compulsory in state schools and teachers required to be competent in te reo”

    It virtually already is.

    Vote: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  14. nickb (3,696 comments) says:

    One-way ticket to Cayman Islands booked for November 2014.

    Vote: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  15. Harriet (5,132 comments) says:

    They are also changing the abortion laws – Fletch posted it over at GD.

    “….A national sex and sexuality education programme dealing with sexual diseases, contraception methods, consent, sexual orientation and gender identity….”

    Ah….just like the ones in Australia and the US……..where children are taught that there is no shame in having sexual diseases!

    And that abortion for adolescents and teenagers is a medical matter and not a matter of their morality!

    And that it is perfectly normal to change to another gender – and have them in your girl’s school toilet with you – uninvited!

    And that sodomy is anal ‘sex’……and also that it is not….but only when you are sitting a biology exam.

    And that you can no longer call fellatio and cunnilingus ‘foreplay’ as it is insensitive to gays as they don’t have ‘real’ sex.

    And that you won’t actually be taught about Mothers Fathers and babies at all….because it is a sex education class….and sex is what we are here to discuss…..the government will take care of any consequences …..here are WINZ, abortion clinic, and NZ Health phone numbers.

    Vote: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 2 You need to be logged in to vote
  16. Ross12 (1,455 comments) says:

    I have always said that Labour were stupid to dump Phil Goff.

    Vote: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  17. Fletch (6,495 comments) says:

    That list of “burning issues” shows that they haven’t learned a damn thing.

    Vote: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  18. Jack5 (5,160 comments) says:

    An apology for the Foreshore and Seabed Act passed in 2004????

    Why is Labour so big on apologies? Apologies to every hapu and tribe. Apologies to Chinese. Did they apologise to women, or was that too broad even for them?

    Who can forget Clark on her knees to a Polynesian family in Auckland over an electricity billing/supply fault that cut off a life machine.

    Doesn’t this have a ring of familiarity with the Stalin trials of old Bolsheviks in the 1930s. Sorry comrades, sorry, sorry, I deserve to be shot.

    NZ’s Leftists should rise from their knees, stop flailing their backs, and stop begging for forgiveness. Pathetic, apologising, twits.

    Vote: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  19. Fletch (6,495 comments) says:

    Jack5, that’s a progressive thing.
    Lefties in America even apologize for, and hate their own country.

    The first thing Obama did after becoming president was go around the world on his infamous “apology tour”.

    Vote: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 1 You need to be logged in to vote
  20. niggly (831 comments) says:

    Hope everyone’s stocked up on popcorn, ready to watch the upcoming entertainment courtesy of Labour’s Conference. Even the MSM will be joining in the fun by reporting on the weird, wacky and the duplicitous Cunliffe under pressure to perform and say different things to different audiences!

    Vote: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  21. Johnboy (16,994 comments) says:

    If Goffy was so good why did we bag him so much and his mates sack him? :)

    Anyone who takes time out to cuddle a sheep can’t be all bad, even if it was Aunty Helen! :)

    Vote: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  22. Sponge (237 comments) says:

    “Maori language made compulsory in state schools and teachers required to be competent in te reo”

    Yep that will help the economy no end. Fucking muppets.

    Vote: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  23. slightlyrighty (2,475 comments) says:

    All National need to do to get the center vote in 2014 is to put a pledge card in every letterbox with a Labour letterhead with the following on it.

    Labour want:

    Maori language made compulsory in state schools and teachers required to be competent in te reo

    Privatised state assets renationalised with compensation based on “proven need”

    The Government’s roads of national significance project dumped and the funds put into public transport

    Teaching of civics and democracy mandatory for all school children

    Laws to discourage excessive alcohol consumption, a review of the purchasing age, alcohol availability and an increase in the price of booze

    Prisoners again getting the right to vote

    A national sex and sexuality education programme dealing with sexual diseases, contraception methods, consent, sexual orientation and gender identity

    New Zealand becoming a republic

    An apology for the Foreshore and Seabed Act passed in 2004

    A prohibition on school boards of trustees restricting same-sex partners from attending school balls

    A Pasifika television station

    A Maori language newspaper

    The fact is, not one of these remits address any issue relating to Employment, nor will any of these remits grow the economy. In fact, some of these will be a disaster, such as renationalising state assets, which will cause a massive drop in private investment, which we need. Compulsory Te Reo can only happen at the expense of learning required to ensure our children are best prepared to contribute to the economic well being of the country.

    Don’t get me started on a left wing party being in charge of teaching all children about civics and democracy, using a highly unionised teaching staff. There is no place for that. Sheer fucking madness.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote