TPP back on the council table

By Staff Reporter

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BLOCKED: Anti-TPP protestors take their submission to the council in June 2014, only for the meeting to be abandoned as council did not have enough members to form a quorum.
BLOCKED: Anti-TPP protestors take their submission to the council in June 2014, only for the meeting to be abandoned as council did not have enough members to form a quorum.

The first time the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement was brought before Whanganui District Council, it sparked a walkout.

That was back in June 2014 when four councillors quit the chamber leaving the council without a quorum and so stopped any discussion of the controversial agreement.

The TPP will be back before council this month when the local authority will again be asked to consider the impact the 12-nation deal will have on its business.

TPPA Action Whanganui has made a submission to the annual plan, asking council to consider a range of areas it believes to be threatened by the agreement.

It's similar to a submission the group made to the long-term plan two years ago which resulted in the walkout, leaving the anti-TPP lobby group high and dry.

A month later, councillors agreed to consider the matter and subsequently voted to "encourage the Government to conclude negotiations on the TPPA and free trade agreements in a way that provides net positive benefits for the Wanganui district and New Zealand".

The TPP is a trade and investment agreement between 12 of the world's biggest economies - including the United States and Australia - and was signed in Auckland earlier this year. It is yet to be ratified by individual countries.

Among the action group's concerns are the council's ability to control water rights, to procure work from local businesses and its support of iwi rights.

"The demands of the TPP threaten all of the above and council needs to do its homework and plan to put measures in place, removing all present weaknesses around these matters before possible ratification of the TPP," spokeswoman Denise Lockett said. She believed some council business would be undermined by the trade agreement and urged council to fight to retain its decision-making power.

"We want them to fight along with Local Government New Zealand to retain control of their council duties," she said.

"Otherwise their job will be tax collectors."

Ms Lockett didn't expect another walkout from councillors this year. "This is election year for local bodies. I don't think they will."

The group is preparing a petition and is collecting names at the Saturday River Traders market.

- Wanganui Chronicle

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