Whangarei MP Dr Shane Reti has been accused of misleading the public in this August 15 media statement, published here in full.
In it, he says signing the TPP is the start of a process, not the end, and that "New Zealanders and opposition parties will have a say on the TPP details well before it becomes law."
He suggests change is possible. However, the terms of the deal cannot be modified once it is signed.
Dr Reti is deputy chair of the Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Committee which would play a key role in ratifying the TPP.
Dr Reti has acknowledged his mistake and says "bad grammar" meant the release was poorly worded.
In a further clarification published below, Dr Reti shares the blame for his mistake with Northern Advocate reporter Alexandra Newlove, and says "you and I got our wires crossed'.
The Northern Advocate does not accept Ms Newlove got her "wires crossed".
Our view is that Dr Reti should accept full responsibility for his error.
The press release and Advocate clarification are published here in full for the public to form their own view.
Dr Reti's August 15 2015 release (unedited)
WHANGAREI MP DR SHANE RETI ENGAGED WITH TPP
I am very pleased that so many people are participating with the TPP (Trans pacific partnership) process.
This weekend, while I was returning from a meeting with the Minister for the Environment, I could see meetings being held across the country including here in Whangarei.
This is a good thing.
TPP is an important discussion for Whangarei and New Zealand and on Monday I will be addressing TPP at a meeting in Waipu and a few days later on local television.
I have received many constituent enquiries around TPP and the most common concern is around perceived secrecy. People are concerned that the public will have little say and that the final documents will not even be tabled in parliament.
As your MP and Deputy Chair of the Foreign Affairs Defence and Trade Committee, I would like to offer my view and throw some light on this concern.
I think the most important understanding is that when a free trade agreement is "signed", unlike other contracts, this signals the "start" of the parliamentary process and not the "end" of discussions.
The end of discussions and passing into law invokes the "ratification" process.
Some agreements actually take many years to move from signing to ratification and indeed some countries sign an agreement or treaty and then never ratify it as the political vista may have changed from when it was initially signed.
It is during the "ratification" process that all the terms of the agreement are made publicly available. As part of ratification, the agreement comes before parliament and opposition parties and select committees for debate and modifications.
In fact the treaty comes before parliament many times for robust debate as "readings" and the "committee of the whole house". After each reading the agreement is usually referred back to select committee for even further debate.
It is in the many select committee processes that we look to hear the voice of the public through public submissions.
By way of example, for the recent Korean Free Trade Agreement our committee received thousands of public submissions. This is a good thing. We want to hear the voice of the public so that we can be guided to do the right thing and reach the best balance that we can between competing interests.
Even after all of this it is still not the end of public and parliamentary scrutiny. Invariably there is legislation that must be amended to bring the agreement into effect and this involves yet another round of parliamentary debates, readings, public submissions and select committees.
The following points highlight features of the process. It is my hope that the public continues to be engaged so that we can be well informed by public input:
Signing an agreement is not concluding the agreement.
After signing, ratification occurs and the FTA undergoes government scrutiny, parliamentary scrutiny and public scrutiny, and then another round of the same happens all again as the relevant legislation is then debated, before the FTA is ratified by the Government.
The current process is just to get to the signing stage which always has a degree of confidentiality to give NZ the best negotiating position - every FTA does this including the China FTA which was signed by the previous government.
New Zealanders and opposition parties WILL have a say on the TPP details well before it becomes law.
Dr Shane Reti (QSM)
The Northern Advocate sought clarification from Dr Reti.
Reporter Alexandra Newlove:
You seem confused about the process the TPP will follow through Parliament - are you? You said the agreement comes before parliament for modifications, how can that be misunderstood? Were you wrong when you said the agreement can be modified?
Dr Reti: "The process itself is quite clear. Where you and I got our lines mixed up, was when I talked about modifying the process. I was talking about how some agreements are signed but not ratified.
That's a modification of the process.
"With a view to modifying the TPP itself: once it's signed those terms are set. It then comes to examination by Parliament and through select committees and so on and so forth. I think that's where you and I got our lines crossed and that's when I said, oh yes I could have written that better.
"I think where you and I got our wires crossed is that the text can't be modified but the process can be modified in as much as some agreements are signed but not actually ratified."