‘This deal is a travesty of democracy’, said Professor Jane Kelsey about the conclusion of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) in Atlanta, USA.
‘The government has ignored, insulted and lied to its citizens.’
‘Minister Groser has misled New Zealanders. He always knew he was on a hiding to nothing on dairy. I have predicted many times that he would not do as he said and walk away from a lousy deal, but would make claim that there were some intangible future gains from being in the club. That’s exactly what’s happened’.
Professor Kelsey urged New Zealanders to ask a simple question: “who gave the Prime Minister and Trade Minister the right to sacrifice our rights to affordable medicine, to regulate foreign investment, to decide our own copyright laws, to set up new SOEs, and whatever else they have agreed to in this secret deal and present it to us as a fait accompli?’’.
She points out the last major sticking point was monopoly rights for Big Pharma over life saving medicines, showing the TPPA is anything but a ‘free trade’ deal.
‘The compromise language on biologic medicines agreed between the US and Australia is apparently so vague the US can and will insist that its intepretation prevails. Giving Big Pharma another three years monopoly over the data, on top of other changes to patents and more leverage over decisions, will undermine the “fundamentals” of Pharmac and blow out the medicines bill.’
‘While Australia was fighting US demands on medicines, our government seemed to be lost in action and obsessed with selling more dairy,’ remarked Professor Kelsey.
‘Not only is a “dairy for medicines” deal unconscionable – it is a total sellout. That’s even before we factor in the handcuffs on future governments in investment, SOEs, financial services, government procurement, and so much more.’
‘I suspect any new dairy access is largely smoke and mirrors, with quotas on carefully selected products and subject to safeguards should increased New Zealand imports impact on America’s domestic agriculture. The problem is we can’t see the details to assess that’.
Under the US Fast Track law, President Obama needs to give 90 days notice to Congress before he can sign, and release the text 30 days into that period.
‘The government is bound to spin the benefits like crazy, knowing that we won’t get to see the real deal for another month. The Minister needs to release the full details immediately.’
Meanwhile, members of the US Congress and the corporate lobbyists who are ‘cleared advisers’ will get to see the deal. Professor Kelsey predicts ‘they will be all over it, and seeking to remove what they still don’t like and add their demands. That will be the first of many opportunities to rewrite the deal as the US moves into an election year. The immediate responses from the US show it will be a dog fight in Congress with almost all the Democrat members opposing the deal and Republicans abandoning Obama in droves.’
‘This is far from over yet. There are three months before the TPPA can be signed. The government’s “trust us” promises were a sham and New Zealanders have been sold down the river. It is time for Opposition parties and ordinary New Zealaanders to force the government to step away, and make it clear to National that failing to do so will carry the ultimate electoral penalty.’