Audrey Young is the New Zealand Herald’s political editor.

TPP Signing: Historic signing gives Kiwis a chance to feel proud - Key

Groups opposing Pacific trade deal rallying for marches to SkyCity today.
Police and security have planned for every eventuality surrounding the signing at SkyCity today. Photo / Dean Purcell
Police and security have planned for every eventuality surrounding the signing at SkyCity today. Photo / Dean Purcell

Today's programme

9am Ministers welcomed to SkyCity with mihi whakatau (cut-down powhiri with no karanga)
9.30am Ministers meet privately, chaired by NZ Trade Minister Todd McClay
11.30am Signing of TPP documents
Noon Press conference.

New Zealanders should feel immensely proud of being part of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, Prime Minister John Key said ahead of today's historic signing in Auckland by 12 countries.

Mr Key said people had opposed the China free trade agreement in 2008 and the closer economic relations (CER) agreement with Australia in the 1980s and opponents of both had been proven totally wrong.

What do you think of the deal? Email us at newsdesk@nzherald.co.nz, Tweet us @nzherald or Facebook us.

"In the end, for all the bluff and bluster and misinformation, TPP is no more than a free trade agreement with the first and third largest economies in the world," he said, referring to the United States and Japan.

"I think people should feel immensely proud of TPP and actually excited by the opportunity it presents."

READ MORE:
The Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement at a glance
Twelve-nation trade deal took long journey
Charles Finny: TPP deserves praise from Maori, not condemnation
Industry lobbyists set out benefits of trade deal in letter to John Key
Brian Fallow: TPP economy figures tell us nothing

Mr Key said the TPP had become a "cause celebre" for the left who would not acknowledge its benefits.

"One of the press releases today was that it was going to have an impact on gay and lesbian, transgender people. Give me a break."

He described the claim by the CTUOut@Work Convener, Karena Brown, that the TPP would stop access to lifesaving drugs for people living with HIV/Aids as "nonsense".

"Insomuch as there is any impact on our capacity to buy new drugs that are invented, particularly biologics, TPP will make New Zealand a wealthier country and assist that."

The Council of Trade Unions was one of a many sector groups issuing last-minute missives against the TPP, including the nurses organisation and primary teacher union. The Unite Union last night said a vote of its 830 members at SkyCity, where the deal is being signed, resulted in 84 per cent rejecting it.

A small group of anti-TPP activists displayed "anti-welcome" banners yesterday on the road from the airport. And two groups are planning protests today: a march at lunchtime down Queen St from Aotea Square to Britomart by It's Our Future, which organiser Barry Coates said aimed for a family-friendly atmosphere and was steering clear of SkyCity Convention Centre. Real Choice, meanwhile, will try to block the entry to SkyCity on Federal St.

While four parliamentary parties oppose the TPP, none of their leaders will be protesting today.

Mr Key said there had been a level of protest in all 12 member countries of TPP. "So to a certain degree it comes with the territory."

But it was "a bit disappointing" because the silent majority of New Zealanders would support the deal when they got a chance to fully understand it and see it implemented.

Referring to yesterday's unemployment rate of 5.3 per cent, he said: "Those things don't happen by accident. They occur because of good policy and when, as a small country, we get more middle-income consumers on a level playing field."

There are no official road closures in place for the Queen St march but protesters are communicating with police about the walk to Britomart.

The police national manager of response and operations, Superintendent Chris Scahill, said the operation would be overseen by headquarters and police were working closely with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, which was managing arrangements for the event.

Mr Scahill said police had planned for every eventuality "which can be anticipated".

Meanwhile, Auckland Council has told its 3000 staff who work at its CBD offices on Albert St and at Bledisloe House that they can work from home or at other council buildings.

Today's programme

9am Ministers welcomed to SkyCity with mihi whakatau (cut-down powhiri with no karanga)
9.30am Ministers meet privately, chaired by NZ Trade Minister Todd McClay
11.30am Signing of TPP documents
• Noon Press conference.

- Additional reporting: Amelia Wade

- NZ Herald

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