A motion on the Regional Council order paper for Wednesday 4th November requested that the Council and LGNZ conduct a proper analysis of impacts of the TransPacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) on its functions and in its area of influence.
My supporting speech is reproduced below:
Today’s motion is my name. However, I need to clarify that the wording of this motion is the result of collaboration across many groups across New Zealand, and should be regarded as an expression of the people of NZ.
Greater Wellington passed a motion almost two years ago, at which we expressed concern at the lack of publicly available information on the TPPA. However, this motion was an abbreviated form of at the “TPP Policy Solution” adopted by councils representing a majority of 60% of the NZ Population, and really only expressed our concern at the limited amount of information available publicly.
We still don’t have access to the full text. But there has been already limited releases from other countries such as the US, and we expect the full text will be released this week, if not by our Government, then by the new Canadian Government.
The “TPP Policy Solution” could then be reviewed against the TPP text.
We are requesting that our CE determine the impact that the TPP will have on our ability to make decisions.
It is important that GW makes a preliminary assessment itself, reports back to Council and
then works with LGNZ and other Councils around NZ, sharing expertise and independent advice. This could be in the form of an evaluation team, convened by LGNZ and headed by Mike Reid, with expert representatives from larger Councils such as own.
TPPA is much more about investment agreements than trade.
Our public participants Bill Rosenberg, Alistair McKee, Grant Brookes, Tom Bennion, Gay Keating and Ariana Paretutanganui-Tamati have given a flavour of the range of potential conflicts –
Our focus must be on potential conflict between the TPPA and human rights and environmental treaty obligations, and chilling action on climate change.
Some of the impacts on local government will be direct:
The threat or use of Investor-State Dispute Settlement processes by corporations to demand compensation for local government decisions or deter authorities from making decisions against their interests;
▪ constraints on the ability of local government to regulate;
▪ restrictions on more favourable treatment for local suppliers under investment or government procurement rules;
▪ difficulties controlling PPPs or returning services to local government ownership, under services or investment provisions;
▪ constraints on public objectives and activities of local government trading entities;
▪ ‘transparency’ provisions giving corporations more influence over decisions.
Some impacts will be indirect:
▪ more constraints on environmental protections generally;
▪ greater pressure on the environment from expansion of agriculture;
▪ greater biosecurity risks and problems for combatting climate change (see “Joseph Stiglitz: Under TPP, Polluters Could Sue U.S. for Setting Carbon Emissions Limits” at http://www.democracynow.org/ 2015/10/27 joseph_stiglitz_under_tpp_polluters_could);
▪ constraints on central government leading to greater demands on local government.
MFAT will provide a National Impact Analysis. However, we should treat their analysis with caution, and look at our areas of interest taking into account possible changing circumstances and emphasis.
As CTU economist Bill Rosenberg says “..Local Government will play a very important role in providing an independent evaluation that forms its own view, based on expert reading of the text, knowledge of the impact of similar agreements, and knowledge of the role, objectives and aspirations of local government…”
And the Report of the United Nations Independent Expert Alfred de Zayas called on States to conduct human rights, health and environmental impact assessments before and after entering into agreements.
We have reflected those concerns in recommendations, and demand that central Government not compromise our ability to make decisions in the interests of our region and the environment. These concerns are paramount!
GW has adopted a Natural Resource Plan, a Climate Change Strategy and Implementation Plan and is also one of the 17 Councils which supported the Local Government leaders Climate Change declaration.
However, the ISDS provisions of the TPP will provide opportunities for transnational corporations to chill our actions to limit greenhouse emissions and promote clean alternatives.
Experts like Alfred de Zayas call for the ISDS (Investor State Disputes Mechanism) to be abolished. If it is not, then matters relating to climate change and environmental protection should be carved out as has happened with tobacco regulation.
Chris Perley wrote a passionate column in the NZ Herald, in which he reminds us that it is “not just our biodiversity; it is our water systems that could be threatened, our soil systems, climate and carbon cycles, nutrient cycles, our acidifying ocean, and services that are gifted to us”.
The TPPA is a landmark agreement which will have broad and lasting impacts. It deserves, a full, critical and broad-ranging evaluation from local government.
Please support the recommendations.
Motion approved as follows:
1: Notes the content of the report.
2: Reviews the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) text against the TPP Policy Solution adopted by councils representing a majority (60%) of the NZ population.
3. Requests the Chief Executive to conduct a preliminary analysis of the TPP text and deliver a report to Council assessing the TPP implications, the object being to determine the impact that the TPP will have on Greater Wellington Regional Council’s ability to make decisions in the interests of our region, the people and their environment.
4: Asks that central government initiates a full public and parliamentary debate before proceeding with formal consideration of the TPP, including formal signing.
5. Asks that central government carry out independent human rights, health and environmental impact assessments of the potential effects of the TPP on the people and the land of New Zealand, as urged by the United Nations independent expert Alfred de Zayas, and make this information publicly available.
6. Asks that central government consults with local government prior to any further action taken that might compromise the ability of local government to make decisions in the interests of our region, the people and their environment.
7. Instructs the Council Chair to write to the President of LGNZ, requesting that a local government evaluation, based on an independent analysis of the implications of the TPP for local government, and for the social, cultural, economic, environmental and
health wellbeing of communities, be undertaken as a basis of LGNZ input into parliamentary consideration, and that the evaluation report should be made publicly available and widely publicised
Agenda item. Note that a nationwide rally was held on 14th November – see TPP Action Group