Heather du Plessis-Allan is a columnist for the Herald on Sunday

Heather du Plessis-Allan: An infuriating protest

Anti-TPP protesters might have done more harm than good to their cause. Photo / Doug Sherring
Anti-TPP protesters might have done more harm than good to their cause. Photo / Doug Sherring

The opposition to the TPP was ugly. Worse than that, it backfired. At first, the crowds of thousands walking Auckland's streets in protest were impressive.

Until you talked to them.

Too many of them didn't even know why they were protesting.

"I dunno, to be honest," was roughly what one man said.

"I'm just here for my people."

The sight of Sue Bradford wrestling with police - again - can do quite a good job of drawing attention to a cause.

But the sight of Sue Bradford sitting on the tarmac in the middle of a main road to deliberately disrupt the traffic of a city already cursed with motorway constipation is just infuriating.

How did the TPP become the fault of Aucklanders who are just trying to get to work?

How did it require vandalism of one minister's electorate office?

How would molotov-cocktail bombing another minister's office stop it?

It's a pity, because for once we were having a grown-up conversation about trade - a topic only slightly less boring than the history of tax accounting.

Well-read opponents have raised points worth discussing.

Things like whether this deal will make medicines more expensive or push up house prices by tying our hands over foreign investment, or - proper horror - end up with our Government being sued for gazillions by an evil foreign corporate with Harvard-educated lawyers and an unlimited "sue-them-for-everything" legal budget.

Well, we were talking about those things but got distracted by a bunch of people lying in the middle of the road and we instead started talking about what a huge inconvenience this was to Auckland traffic, which is already so bad because there hasn't been enough investment and what do you really think of the City Rail Link now that they're going to start building it sooner?

Do you see what you did there, protesters?

Let's not even get started on the debacle that was the PM's cancelled trip to Waitangi because, yes, it was the TPP that derailed that also.

No one would blame you for missing that detail because in the end no one was talking about the implications to Maori sovereignty of the TPP. We just ended up trying to decide if the PM should tell Ngapuhi to get stuffed - again.

It really didn't matter what the protesters' placards said or what road they lay on, the deal was always going to be signed.

But what TPP-haters have done is drive the thousands of ordinary Kiwis who don't really understand the deal and its implications straight into the arms of the TPP fan-boys and girls.

Whose argument are you more likely to believe: the guy who can relay the solitary blog post he's read on how great the TPP is, or the guy lying in the middle of the road clutching a molotov cocktail because he's angry about something vaguely to do with the price of medicine?

For what it's worth, I hope we keep talking about the TPP.

I hope we read all the detail, understand the implications and hold the Government accountable.

I hope the deal pays dividends for the country, but if it does the opposite, I hope we can insist on New Zealand withdrawing from it.

But for that to happen, we need to want to talk about it.

What's your view? letters@hos.co.nz

- Herald on Sunday

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Heather du Plessis-Allan is a columnist for the Herald on Sunday

Heather du Plessis-Allan is a thirty-something living between Auckland and Wellington. She has more than a decade's experience hosting and reporting on TV and radio. Heather's worked in Parliament's Press Gallery, covered the 2012 London Olympic Games, and reported from as far afield as Antarctica.

Read more by Heather du Plessis-Allan

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