Business columnist, with a political twist, for NZ Herald

What could possibly go wrong with the TPP?

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Protesters march down Queen St in opposition to the government's proposed TPP trade deal. Photo / Dean Purcell
Protesters march down Queen St in opposition to the government's proposed TPP trade deal. Photo / Dean Purcell

New Zealand, New Zealand, New Zealand. Don't you go worrying your pretty head about anything this Government is doing on your behalf. Remember to have an optimistic, aspirational look around you once in a while, and say, "What a great country I live in".

Don't ever, ever worry that we are about to be sold down the river in Hawaii, where 12 countries are in the middle of agreeing to the Trans-Pacific Partnership. You don't need to know what's in it. We ourselves barely know, as we change our story by the day, but all you need to remember is a) we are great economic managers, and b) America, which holds almost all of the bargaining power, wants us to succeed economically almost more than we do.

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It has ruled out a couple of things - it won't let us grow our dairy exporting trade too much; "something something software" that few of us understand; and it won't let us operate Pharmac the way we're doing it. It'll also allow corporations to sue us when they don't like the way we change our laws.

But that last one, at least, is easily fixed. Keep electing us, because we're much more amenable to legislating to make big, litigious corporations feel comfortable. Problem solved. Boom.

Nation, despite all the leftie whining you're hearing, we're relaxed about what the TPP will mean for you, the consumer.

I mean, you'll still be paying $5 per prescription well into the future. It'll just be more of your tax dollars, not your purse and wallet dollars, used more to pay off global pharmaceutical concerns. So that's totally cool.

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We're positive about the continued privatisation of our social services, and see absolutely no reason to change course whatsoever. The problems at Mt Eden prison, for example, were just a particular set of circumstances that happened to occur in that microclimate. I mean, those things will only happen where you have a private company paid enormous sums to run a complex, expensive public service at cost, with fewer staff, totally disconnected from any incentive to genuinely rehabilitate people back into the community, and kept in check only by themselves.

In fact, we're so calm with the Serco situation that our Corrections Minister, Sam Lotu-Iiga, says he's "not worried" a Mt Eden Serco prison guard's been arrested as part of Head Hunters raids. We're so relaxed about it that Social Development Minister Anne Tolley says she'd still be happy to offer contracts to Serco to run social services for vulnerable children. Be positive and aspirational for the children for a change, why don't you!

We've also said repeatedly that the problems at Mt Eden prison are absolutely no worse than what might happen in publicly owned prisons across New Zealand. Some then whine: "Why bother privatising these services if - at the very least - they can't be run better than those run publicly?" It's the kind of question we always get from negative nellies on the left.

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Well, we find this question seriously annoying, and will ignore it. It should be apparent that privatisation is immeasurably better - look at charter schools. (Don't look too closely.)

The privatisation of our social services is happening apace. One way this will be achieved, in the health sector at least, is to put our own, hand-picked appointees on each district health board, in preparation for the gradual privatisation of our health system. It's happening in England and we want to emulate those amazing outcomes (for business) right here in New Zealand. We hope it'll be something like our hand-picked people on Environment Canterbury, allowing for a fast throughput of business deliverables. Or our people at Cera, who will hopefully get out of the way and allow private partners and overseas companies to swoop up vital civic assets, prime Christchurch land - and fix crumbling infrastructure, with any luck.

Yes, the economy is slowing down. Sure there is milk powder stockpiled in China and foodbanks are busier than ever.

But we're listening to the concerns of the people, and we're chilled about how these problems will resolve themselves.

Above all, remember the words of economic guru Bill English, who at the National Party's recent annual conference in Auckland, put it in perspective. Slowing economic growth would not derail the party's re-election chances in 2017, he said, because, luckily, it came at the right time in the electoral cycle. Boo-yah!

Debate on this article is now closed.

- NZ Herald

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Business columnist, with a political twist, for NZ Herald

Dita De Boni is a columnist, commentator and TV producer/journalist. She first wrote columns for the NZ Herald in 1995, moving to daily business news in 1999 for four years, and then to TVNZ in Business, News and Current Affairs. After tiring of the parenting/blogging beat for the Herald Online she moved back to her first love, business (with a politics chaser), writing a column for Friday Business since 2012.

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