The Herald reports:
Two senior Labour MPs have broken ranks with the party line and declared their support for the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), amid rumours that at least one, Phil Goff, could cross the floor of Parliament to vote with National if Labour opposes enabling legislation.
The issue was hotly debated at the Labour caucus retreat in Wairarapa this week.
Labour has joined the campaign to oppose the deal as the focus turns to the signing in Auckland next week.
Mr Goff, a former leader and former Trade Minister and now an Auckland mayoral candidate, and David Shearer, also a former Labour leader, last night told theHerald they both still supported the TPP.
Mr Goff said the deal should be signed.
Former Labour Prime Minister Helen Clark also backed the TPP among 12 countries and it was begun under her leadership. Mr Goff was Trade Minister.
Helen Clark in fact said not being part of TPP was unthinkable. Yet that is now Andrew Little’s position it seems.
Labour has decided to oppose the TPP on the grounds that it undermines New Zealand’s sovereignty.
Mr Goff did not blatantly criticise Labour’s position. But he effectively dismissed that view and the suggestion that Labour would not be able to prevent foreign investors buying New Zealand residential property.
“Every time you sign any international agreement you give away a degree of your sovereignty.” He cited the China free trade deal negotiated when he was Trade Minister.
“We gave up the sovereign right to impose tariffs against China when we signed up to the China free trade agreement. But it came with quid pro quos. China gave up its right to impose huge tariffs on us.
“That’s what an international agreement is; it’s an agreement to follow a particular course of action and a limitation on your ability to take action against the other country.
“You have the ultimate right of sovereignty that you can back out of an agreement – with all the cost that that incurs.”
Thank you Phil Goff for that rational analysis. Indeed every international agreement limits sovereignty – we have agreed not to torture people, we have agreed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions etc etc. The sovereignty argument is an intellectually weak and desperate diversion, that Little is deploying because there is so little to attack on the substance of TPP. Basically almost all the bad stuff that got scaremongered against wasn’t in the final version.