Martyn Bradbury: PM selling NZ out for three beans

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John Key. Photo / Brett Phibbs
John Key. Photo / Brett Phibbs

That low rumbling sound you can hear is David Lange rolling in his grave at the sell-out of his independent vision for our country.

Labour's nuclear-free zone was a moral and ethical stance of nationhood against US hegemony and, as New Zealanders, we should be equally as determined to protect our self-determination by opposing the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement.

That's why many Kiwis will protest against the so-called free trade agreement this coming Saturday.

John Key would have us believe that billions and billions will flow from this "free" trade deal with America and other Asia-Pacific nations. Unfortunately for the prime minister, Wikileaks obtained the cable from our chief negotiator, Mark Sinclair, admitting privately that managing the fact we would gain little from the deal was its biggest challenge.

When your chief negotiator warns you that telling the public this deal will earn fortunes is the wrong thing to do because it really won't, everyone must question what we are actually being sold here.

The agreement is 29 chapters long, but only five have anything to do with trade. America is playing a Cold War chess game with China in the Pacific, and this deal is really more a national security leash marking America's turf.

Allowing corporations the power to take our Government to international courts for any domestic law the corporations feel threatens their bulging profit margins is economic self-mutilation - it's not an Uncle Sam-paved road to prosperity.

Take plain packaging for tobacco. The tobacco industry is looking to use trade deals like this as a mechanism to force governments to abandon public health initiatives because they impinge on its profits. Take corporate Hollywood, which would be able to stop New Zealand content quotas on New Zealand television, arguing that such quotas are protectionism.

Take Pharmac. The ground Key will give to get some extra dairy into America is to let US pharmaceuticals threaten Pharmac with legal action if Pharmac doesn't take their overpriced medicines. Pharmac becomes obliged to consider legal action by these corporations as part of its costings so that although cheaper medicines may exist, the added cost of legal threats means cheaper drugs are ruled out.

The effect of this is more expensive medicines for all of us, just so dairy farmers (who are already polluting our rivers to saturation point) can sell a little bit more to the US.

My fear is Key will take our economic sovereignty to market, sign the TPPA and return with three magic beans. Investor-state dispute settlements will be a nail in the coffin of true democracy.

Since 1987, the US hasn't been able to sail nuclear-powered warships into our harbours, but if Key sneaks signing this deal past Parliament, America won't need to park their nukes in our ports, because they'll already own us.

We are a nation that should refuse to allow US corporations the power to dictate domestic laws to us. We are not America's South Pacific caddy. Key can personally acquiesce to that level of giddy subservience but, as a nation, we have more collective backbone.

Lange's vision of an independent South Pacific state can still be celebrated if we maintain our democratic integrity. Our global reputation deserves better than fawning to a fading super-power, and our collective mana is worthier than this.

This coming Saturday at the national rally, we need to stand our ground and show Key our economic sovereignty is not as easily sold as his vacant aspiration and empty optimism.

Debate on this article is now closed.

- Herald on Sunday

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