Call to adopt TPP policy

The Dunedin City Council is being urged to put New Zealand's ''public interest'' first by adopting a new policy on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations.

The call came from Greg Rzesniowiecki, of Motueka, on behalf of the Renewables group, during a public forum at the start of this week's economic development committee meeting in Dunedin.

Mr Rzesniowiecki is travelling the country to lobby councils, and on Monday told Dunedin city councillors they should consider adopting the ''public interest'' policy on the proposed regional free trade agreement.

That would see the council agreeing to encourage the government to ''conclude negotiations ... in a way that provides net positive benefits'' for Dunedin, Otago and New Zealand.

In practice, that meant signing up to a set of principles to be protected during the trade negotiations, including tobacco control and other public health measures.

Mr Rzesniowiecki said the TPP had the potential to undermine public interest in addressing climate change, and other issues, by allowing corporate interests to become ''supreme''.

The DCC, as one of 78 councils throughout New Zealand, had the ability to influence government decision-making, and should give ''serious consideration'' to signing up to the policy, he told the forum.

The council had adopted an ethical investment policy for its Waipori Fund, and councils throughout New Zealand had lobbied against legal highs, showing what could be achieved, he believed.

''It's the same thing here. It all adds to the weight of public concern and public support or antipathy towards a particular policy setting,'' he said.

chris.morris@odt.co.nz

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