Report – By Thomas Carnegie
New Zealand is not for sale to foreign corporations and investment interests is the message being touted in a North Island tour by a prominent Christchurch-based campaigner.
Murray Horton, organiser of both the Campaign Against Foreign Control of Aotearoa (CAFCA) and the Anti-Bases Campaign (ABC), strongly condemned the controversial draft Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) as being bad for the country.
In a seminar organised by AUT University’s Pacific Media Centre last weekend entitled “What the media don’t tell you: Who’s Running the Show?”, Horton called for an independent New Zealand based on policies of economic, military and political self-reliance.
He spoke on four major issues – people’s rights before corporate profit, public service not private profit, an independent foreign policy and no unjust secret treaties.
The key theme running through all four topics was the need for the public to fight against the TPPA.
CAFCA and ABC criticise the agreement, arguing that it puts private corporation profit ahead of public interest.
“The agreement would give trans-national corporations legal rights in the countries that become signatories to the agreement,” said Horton.
Right to sue
This would mean a private corporation would then have the right to sue the New Zealand government on grounds of discrimination.
Horton said if happened then many of New Zealand’s public services would be destroyed.
“If the TPPA comes in and brings in the American health model for paying the going rate going for drugs then that will be the destruction of the New Zealand public health system.”
Horton said a people power movement created from the grassroots was needed to combat the agreement.
The four topics of this speech should be central to all political parties running in this year’s general election.
If they are not, then the public should demand that they should be, Horton said.
Greg Rzesniowiecki, a spokesperson of the climate change action group Renewables, said his group opposed the agreement due to the negative effect it would have on the environment.
“If New Zealand moved forward and actually did something about climate change – if these moves discriminated against a company being able to operate in New Zealand, then it could sue the government,” he said.
But Rzesniowiecki said there was still some hope.
Several local councils throughout New Zealand had adopted resolutions that sent a clear message to the central government.
The public want informed debate on the agreement before it is passed into law.
“On behalf of the Renewables I have written to every council across the land asking them to adopt a similar type of resolution on the agreement.
“Effectively what we are about is creating a situation where central government has to listen to public interest, this would isolate the government and force their hand.”
Rzesniowiecki called on the public to lobby local councils, calling on them to adopt the resolution.
Thomas Carnegie is a Postgraduate Diploma in Communication Studies student journalist at AUT University.