Transpacific deal on DCC agenda

The transpacific trade partnership is on the Dunedin City Council's agenda today as it decides whether to lobby the Government.

In March, about 170 Dunedin residents petitioned the council to make a submission to the Government similar to that made by the Auckland Council.

Three others made submissions to the last annual plan process, and one other person has since appealed to councillors via the public forum.

Councillors asked staff to look into its options. Staff presented three options, which councillors will consider today.

They are: to make a submission along the lines of the Auckland Council's, which asks the Government to consider the wider implications of the TPP and include a detailed list of matters for their consideration; or, along the lines of the Greater Wellington Council, adopt a more concise and general resolution that safeguards the interests of Dunedin and local government and recognises the community concerns; or take no further action on the TPP at this stage.

Staff would not recommend an option as they did not feel they had enough information to be able to assess likely implications of the agreement as the negotiations, between 12 pacific nations, had taken place in private, senior policy analyst Tami Sargeant said.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade says the agreement is ''intended to deepen economic ties between its diverse members by opening up trade in goods and services, boosting investment flows, and promoting closer links across a range of economic policy and regulatory issues''.

People are concerned about the closed-door process, the range and direction of its content, the impact agreement could have on business or on local government, and the powers it could give other countries over New Zealand economy and legislation.

Draft TPPA resolution

This is the draft resolution adopted by the Dunedin City Council. Some minor editorial changes are to be made.

That Dunedin City Council encourages the government to conclude negotiations on the TransPacific Partnership and Free Trade Agreements in a way that provides net positive benefits for Dunedin, the Otago Region and New Zealand, that is, provided the Partnership and Agreements achieve the following objectives:

i. Continues to allow the Dunedin City Council and other councils, if they so choose, to adopt procurement policies that provide for a degree of local preference; to choose whether particular services or facilities are provided in house, by council-controlled organisations (CCOs) or by contracting out; or to require higher health and safety, environmental protection, employment rights and conditions, community participation, animal protection or human rights standards than national or international minimum standards.

ii. Maintains good diplomatic and trade relations and partnerships for Dunedin, Otago and New Zealand with other major trading partners not included in the agreement, including with China.

iii. Provides substantially increased access for our agriculture exports, particularly those from the Otago region into the US market;

iv. Does not undermine PHARMAC, raise the cost of medical treatments and medicines or threaten public health measures, such as tobacco control;

v. Does not give overseas investors or suppliers any greater rights than domestic investors and suppliers, such as through introducing Investor- State Dispute Settlement, or reduce our ability to control overseas investment or finance;

vi. Does not expand intellectual property rights and enforcement in excess of current law;

vii. Does not weaken our public services, require privatisation, hinder reversal of privatisations, or increase the commercialisation of government or of Dunedin City Council or other local government organisations;

viii. Does not reduce our flexibility to support local economic and industry development and encourage good employment and environmental practices and initiatives like Council Cadetships, COMET and the Mayor's Taskforce for Jobs which enable marginalised young people to develop their skills and transition into meaningful employment;

ix. Contains enforceable labour clauses requiring adherence to core International Labour Organisation conventions and preventing reduction of labour rights for trade or investment advantage;

x. Contains enforceable environmental clauses preventing reduction of environmental standards for trade or investment advantage;

xi. Has general exceptions to protect human rights, the environment, the Treaty of Waitangi, and New Zealand's economic and financial stability;

xii. Is referred to the parliamentary select committee process, allowing adequate time for public submissions.

 

 

 

Looks like a duck...

This "council" submission is thanks to Greater Dunedin, which seems no better than the group of ageing councillors and Dunedin identities who sorted out issues before public council meetings in backrooms away from the public eye in the 80s, 90s and early 2000s. Previously, these shadowy blocs were more right wing, and now, extreme left, but appears no more moral than any previous.
This group strongly resembles the Greens and Labour political parties in the way it sounds, and the policies it backs - busying itself not so much with civic infrastructural matters, but primarily with creating anti-National-government policies, and pushing Green and Labour-leaning, politically-flavoured policies through to try and create a different council power that we have not seen before. Its main aim is to challenge the policies of the NZ Government.
Rubbish on the streets and potholes in the roads is pedestrian stuff indeed - yet, ironically, seems a better fit with environmental ideals. Has the Council become a Trojan horse? It feels unhealthy and unfair to the very people that GD no doubt felt it represented - other, more centrist believers; residents and ratepayers with different views to them.
Neither extreme left, or extreme right, have a place in our civic authorities. That's why we have electorates and votes for Parliament - but to masquerade as local authorities is duplicitous at the very least. A council where members are independent of each other, and hold to their own values, without kowtowing to their party-style allegiances, would be so much better - where council's stick to their knitting; what they are mandated to do - and do it well. [Abridged]

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