NEGOTIATIONS are drawing to a close on an agreement that could have significantly negative implications for all New Zealanders ... and for all Kiwis to come.

Then again, it may have significantly positive implications. Such is the secrecy around the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement that you cannot really tell.

This week, however, the Labour Party - perhaps sniffing which way the wind was blowing - said it would not support the deal if it undermined New Zealand sovereignty.

The Greens and NZ First have also called this hush-hush agreement into question, but opposition to the TPPA has, by and large, come from the grass roots (including some sprouting in Wanganui) rather than from political leaders.

Advertisement

That may be because ordinary folk have most to lose and the political elite most to gain.

Still, Labour's belated stand is to be welcomed.

The party's leader Andrew Little set some benchmarks:

-Our drug-buying agency Pharmac must be protected;

-Multinational companies cannot sue the NZ Government for passing legislation in the public interest - think, for example, of legislation restricting tobacco sales or, should we ever get that far, laws limiting obesity-inducing food and drink;

-The right to restrict the sale of farms and houses to non-resident foreigners should be upheld;

-The Treaty of Waitangi must be upheld.

Whether this red line in the sand will make any difference is open to debate, but at least it is generally pointing in the right direction.

Advertisement

Ceding power to profit-driven corporations is a dodgy business as the debacle over Serco's running of Mt Eden prison has shown, and one suspects that is one likely outcome of the TPPA.

The deal has, alarmingly, been dubbed a threat to democracy. In one sense that has already come true. The National Government's refusal to engage with the people over the TPPA is the antithesis of democracy.