The Dunedin City Council has taken a stance on the
trans-Pacific partnership agreement.
By the narrowest of margins, the council adopted a resolution
to encourage the Government to conclude negotiations on the
agreement in a way that provides ''net positive benefits''
for Dunedin and New Zealand.
The decision was made only when Mayor Dave Cull was forced to
use his casting vote after councillors were split evenly on
supporting the resolution or not.
A passionate debate on the council's options preceded
yesterday's vote and followed submissions from five members
of the public, four of whom spoke about their concerns about
the agreement's potential effects.
The council has previously received submissions outlining
public concern about the multinational agreement and
The TPPA is an international treaty negotiation between 12
Pacific nations including New Zealand and the United States
that is expected to have wide-ranging implications, including
for procurement arrangements, intellectual property, health,
investment and market access.
Its possible impacts and the fact negotiations are all behind
doors has sparked widespread concern and debate across the
The resolution adopted by the Dunedin City Council is almost
identical to those already passed by the Auckland, Nelson and
It includes a detailed list of 12 matters for the
Government's consideration on various aspects of the TPPA's
expected impact on local and national economy, environment
Cr Andrew Whiley started the debate by moving the council
take no further action on the TPPA at this stage, and was
seconded by Cr Lee Vandervis, who said too little was known
about the agreement.
''Only when we know what is in this beast can we make a
reasonable and informed decision about it,'' Cr Vandervis
Deputy Mayor Chris Staynes said a presentation from New
Zealand's chief TPPA negotiator, David Walker from the
Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, to councillors just
before yesterday's council meeting assured him the Government
was already taking into the account the aspirations outlined
in the resolution, so no response was needed from the
Cr John Bezett was concerned the council would be lobbying on
behalf of lobby groups and did not want to be setting that
''There will be plenty of opportunities before this issue is
resolved to put your case,'' he said to those who supported
adopting the resolution.
Cr Mike Lord also had confidence in the negotiators.
''All I see when I look at this (12-point resolution) is
Cr Richard Thomson took the lead for the other side saying
even though he could not believe a Government would sign
something that generated a reaction that could get them
''thrown out'', he was not sure why anyone would not support
the points outlined in the resolution.
''It's asking that we understand what we are embarking on and
that we not have any substantive rights taken away from us.''
While he was not sure it was the business of local
government, it was good for the council to take a position on
a bottom line that was important to the community, he said.
Cr Jinty MacTavish could see no problem with taking a
pre-emptive position and being proactive as a council, while
Cr Aaron Hawkins said the community had come to the council
rightly concerned about a treaty being negotiated in their
name that they had very little understanding of, and could
not understand that anything in the resolution was so
abhorrent other councillors would not support it.
Mr Cull said it was because the chief negotiator assured
councillors points covered in the resolution were being
considered already that he supported adopting it,
asking:''... what could be wrong with it?''
Cr Vandervis' motion to do nothing failed with Mr Cull's
casting vote used against it.
After the resolution was amended to say the TPPA be referred
to a parliamentary select committee process that allowed
adequate time for public submissions, it was adopted in a 7-6
Crs MacTavish, Hawkins, Thomson, Neville Peat, David
Benson-Pope, Kate Wilson and Mr Cull voted to adopt the
Crs Whiley, Staynes, Bezett, Lord, Doug Hall and Andrew Noone
voted against it.
Cr Vandervis abstained because, he said, councillors could
not know what they were voting for.
Cr Hilary Calvert was not present at the meeting.
Draft TPPA resolution
This is the draft resolution adopted by the Dunedin City
Council yesterday. Some minor editorial changes are to be
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
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
x. Contains enforceable environmental clauses preventing
reduction of environmental standards for trade or investment
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.