Turei on Trade

Green co-leader was on Q+A this morning, and it was a pretty lamentable performance. While there were a couple of tough topics, she just didn’t cope with the scrutiny, and appeared very flustered and evasive.

I backed Turei as their best choice for co-leader (not that I get a vote!) as she has generally been a strong MP. But today showed up the gap between her and someone like Fitzsimons, who would have handled things much more calmly.

Of course part of the problem was that on the trade issue, Turei had a nonsensical position to defend. Every country on earth supports the move to freer trade, apart from pretty much just North Korea. The Green view on trade is very much a fringe view, and it got exposed today.

From the transcript (not yet online:

GUYON Okay let’s look at an economic idea that you are opposed to, and that is free trade largely.   In your maiden speech in 2002 you said that, and I quote you, ‘the acceptance of free trade agreements threatens our economy, our environment, our people and our sovereignty.’  Do you not believe in any free trade agreements at all?

METIRIA Well our position is that you need to have systems of fair trade, that make sure that New Zealand can retain its economic sovereignty, and free trade deals tend to undermine the economic sovereignty.

GUYON All the free trade deals, I mean the free trade deal that we have with Australia for example that we’ve had for 20 years, has that undermined our sovereignty?

METIRIA It prevents New Zealand from being able to make the economic decisions around our manufacturing, around job retention, all of those issues that are best for New Zealand, and we want New Zealand to be a prosperous and sustainable economy, that means we have to move … we need to be able to make those decisions for ourselves.

GUYON Does that mean all free trade agreements, for example the CER agreement that we’ve had with Australia since 1982, does that cover that?

METIRIA Look the key issue for us…

GUYON No, can I get a straight answer for our viewers on this question please, because it’s all very well to give a speech about free trade.

Yet she still could not state whether or not the Green Party thought CER was a good or a bad thing.

I wonder why the Greens are so inconsistent on the issues of national sovereignty. They correctly point out climate change affects everyone regardless of national borders. They support surrendering sovereignty to the UN on every treaty there is. Yet on economic issues, they cite national sovereignty as a reason to prevent people freely trading with each other.

GUYON Okay with respect, let’s look at one of those countries, China.  Now on Thursday it was the first anniversary of our Free Trade Agreement with China, our exports have climbed 61% over that year to 3.3 billion.  I mean wouldn’t we all be the poorer if we’d listened to you and not gone ahead with that agreement?

METIRIA Oh look Guyon, I mean you can make that kind of accusation and I think it’s just silly, the truth is that so much of New Zealand’s economy at the moment is under serious threat if  you like from the fact that we’re having to borrow hundreds of millions of dollars every week actually in order to just pay the interest on our current borrowing.  We’re having a housing bubble at the moment which is going to also impact seriously on our economy and there are other kinds of tools that we can use to deal with economic issues that are affecting New Zealand, like increasing the ability for banks for example to lend ….

The stupidity of Metiria’s response is the China FTA means we are borrowing less. Exports rose 60% in the middle of a recession!! That is a huge sucess. She just had no answer at all to this.

GUYON Can we return to this agreement though because there are some real Green issues here in this China Free Trade Agreement and I want to talk to you about one of them, because the New Zealand Trade and Enterprise says areas like the health supplements in Manuka Honey are a great area for expansion of our exports, and in fact your own Super Fund has quite a large shareholding on Konvita New Zealand which has 18 branded stores in China and is actually doing very very well out of this China Free Trade Agreement, would you deny them that opportunity, because you opposed that agreement.

You have to love the irony. Their super fund is personally profiting from the China FTA that they battled against.

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