Auckland University law Professor Jane Kelsey is wrong.
Specifically, she is wrong with her constant criticism of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement. For years she has pumped out press releases and opinion pieces and given endless interviews to scare us witless about the evils of the TPPA.
She has complained it “raises the price of medicines and handcuffs the right of governments to regulate in their national interests”, that it would “bust the Pharmac budget” and “make SOEs prime targets for privatisation”.
She has said Prime Minister John Key is enabling “Hollywood to sell us down the river”, that at stake “is a battle between life and death for New Zealanders and life and death for the tobacco industry” and that governments are signing up to an agreement that “surrenders their domestic economies and grants undue influence over their policy decisions to powerful, largely US, corporate interests”.
It is fine to say that the TPP might include some of the bad stuff above, because some countries did push for stuff we did not want. But it is bad faith to claim the TPP will do the bad stuff, before there is an agreement, and also bad faith to try and paint the Government as being in favour of the bad stuff, rather than actually being the ones trying to get the best deal for NZ.
Well, the deal has now been agreed. And miracle of miracles, the sun still shines. The agreement covers two-fifths of the global economy and eliminates or reduces about 18,000 tariffs, taxes and non-tariff barriers.
It’s a huge boost to world trade and prosperity. The only criticism is that it does not go far enough.
It is interesting how some critics have gone from all this bad stuff will happen, to it isn’t a good enough deal for dairy. I agree with Groser’s use of the old quote “perfect is the enemy of good”
So why is Kelsey so opposed? Well, she was taught her political views by left-thinking Marxist scholars at Cambridge. Her Marxism means it is not the specifics of the TPPA that concern her but the agreement itself.
To Marxists, free trade is evil because it makes the rich richer at the expense of workers who are kept poor on subsistence wages.
As I said last week, Kelsey has vigorously argued against every trade agreement NZ has made (as far as I can recall).
Another view on TPP is Audrey Young:
If the test is whether New Zealand will be better off signing the TPP or not signing it, there is only one answer.
And to avoid doubt:
Better off – not just for the $259 million in identifiable tariff reductions but for the so-called “dynamic gains of trade” that come with a greater presence in a market as the China FTA has shown.
Labour and New Zealand First will rail against Tim Groser’s failure to get a great deal on dairy, but the public are not fools.
They know the blame lies with the United States and its protectionist buddies in Canada and Japan.
Labour could perhaps apply its own test to the way it handles the TPP issue: will Labour be better off supporting the deal than not supporting it. Will it be any better off sounding as though it opposes it but supporting it in the end?
If it does not support TPP eventually it would be punished for the next two years by the Government over its willingness to allow New Zealand exporters to be disadvantaged in export markets of new partners, where 93 per cent of tariffs will eventually disappear.
It would erode its standing as a potential government of a trade-driven nation.
It would be bad for NZ if Labour votes against it, but it would be good for National. I put NZ’s interests first, and hope Labour does support it.