Octagon declared a 'TPP-free zone'

Photo by Linda Robertson
Photo by Linda Robertson

Up to 250 people have declared the Octagon a Trans Pacific Partnership-free zone at an ''action event'' in Dunedin this afternoon.

Event organiser Jen Olsen said Dunedin should follow suit and become the first city to declare itself TPP-free.

The crowd heard from Labour's Dunedin MPs David Clark and Clare Curran, the first time the pair have spoken publicly since Labour declared itself opposed to the controversial deal after years of uncertainty over where the party stood.

Dr Clark, who is also Labour's trade spokesman, said it had been a ''hell of a ride'' since he took on the trade portfolio last month.

The party had taken a "principled stance not a populist stance'' to the TPP, which breached New Zealand's sovereignty, he said.

New Zealand relied on trade, but not at any price, he said.

He said the party needed to be careful how its presented its argument over TPP in order to take "middle New Zealand'' along with it.

Ms Curran echoed Dr Clark's sentiments, and reminded the crowd Labour celebrated its 100th anniversary this year.

"We are immensely proud of our history - most of our history,'' Ms Curran said.

Green Party co-leader Metiria Turei received the warmest response from the crowd, especially when she declared the TPP would bring down the National Government.

She said she had been heartened by the anti-TPP speaking tour featuring US trade authority Lori Wallach, who has been telling crowds in New Zealand about its lack of support on both sides of the political divide in the United States.

The crowd was also entertained with poetry readings, songs, and a talk about the benefits of introducing a universal basic income.

Dunedin activist Scout Barbour-Evans, who was door-knocked by police this week ahead of today's event, said the relatively low-key nature of the protest showed the visit had been an "absolute joke''.

"This is exactly what was planned.''

It was one of numerous anti-Trans-Pacific Partnership protests around the country leading up to the official signing of the document on February 4.

Four to five hundred people gathered in front of the Governor-General's residence in Wellington to hand him a petition, asking him not to sign off on the TPP.

Organiser Greg Rzesniowiecki said it was illegal for anyone to block them from passing over the petition, and they would wait there until it was received.

He said people from various industries were there holding placards making statements such as "support local, not global'' and "protect our freedoms''.

The group will finish with their "Great New Zealand Sell-off'' display at parliament around 3pm.

Anti-TPP protests are also being held in Rotorua, New Plymouth, Christchurch and Nelson today.

In Auckland, National MP Nikki Kaye's office in Freeman's Bay has been tagged in an apparent protest against the controversial trade deal.

The words "NO TPP yes I voted'' have appeared in black spray paint on Auckland Central MPs' electorate office.

Demonstrations are expected to continue tonight, with car enthusiasts planning protest convoys against the TPP.

Hundreds are expected to turn out for airport to CBD protest convoys in Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch, Hamilton, Whangarei, Palmerston North and Tauranga from 10pm.

On Thursday, the Waiheke Local Board voted for the island and Hauraki Gulf to become a TPP-free zone - a symbolic gesture put forward by member Shirin Brown.

The resolution was circulated to Mayor Len Brown, other Auckland local body representatives, community boards around New Zealand, Prime Minister John Key and Trade Minister Tim Groser.

- Additional reporting NZME 

TPP Free Zone

We collected 300 signatures on the petition asking the Dunedin City Council to declare Dunedin a TPP Free Zone in the two and half hours of the event. I am sure there will be many more over the coming weeks. 

The DCC passed a 12 pont resolution on the TPP in August 2014, which outlined the areas of policy concern with the TPP, eg, local procurement rules, medicine costs and copyright law. At that time, the text of the TPP was still a secret. It is now open to scrutiny and we know that all of these policy areas have been undermined by the terms of the TPP. 

It is therefore within the remit of the DCC to inform the government that they do not support the TPP, and we will be asking them to take the step of declaring the city a TPP Free Zone. 

Make Dunedin a TPP free zone petition

Just thought  people would like to know that the petition to make Dunedin a TPP free zone is ongoing and will not be submitted to the DCC until it has many more than 300 signatures.  

Don't recall any  politicians campaigning on the fact that they would sign the TPP at the last general elections either.  

It is a symbolic gesture aimed at raising awareness of the issues at stake. May I refer people who would like more information that is not just govt spin to  www.tpplegal.wordpress.com  This website has some very good detailed analysis of the TPP and is putting more papers up all the time.


DCC mandate

Are you aware that 300 signatures (not all of whom may be Dunedin voters) is about 0.8% of the number of voters in 2013?

I don't believe the current Council has a mandate to vote on the TPP. Apart from the TPP being a national and international issue, not a local body issue,  I don't recall any candidates campaigning on the TPP in 2013.

Greece and The Octagon

Democracy was devised by the Ancient Greeks. They did not intend demos as a Tyranny of The Majority, which is modern democracy. They meant "Trust the wisdom of The People". The people chose to occupy a public place and declare it TPP Free for the duration. Go to town tomorrow, and the Octagon will be back to its mercantile Gazette.

Declaration democratic

You don't need to worry Pete.  The decision to declare the upper Octagon a TPPA-free zone for the time that we booked  it for our TPPA event was perfectly democratic. It was done with a mandate from the people attending the event. As soon as our alloted time was up we removed all the placards and banners and restored it to its original state. Rest assured, it is no longer a TPPA free zone.

No one expects the council to do anything without a mandate either. We  launched the petition asking the council to declare Dunedin a TPPA-free zone. The council can judge by the number of signatures we collect whether or not there is a mandate. On that subject are you not concerned that only cabinet gets to vote on the TPPA?




TPP-free Dunedin

We declared the Octagon a TPP Free Zone during our rally yesterday as a geture to counter the gesture taking place on Thursday by the ministers who will sign the TPPA in Auckland. 

We know that the TPP is far from ready to come into force and we don't want to see New Zealand pass unecessary legislation that will enforce the conditions of a treaty which cannot bring us any benefits without the agreement of the USA to the treaty, currently looking unlikely. 

We collected over 300 signatures asking the Dunedin City Council to declare Dunedin TPP Free and when this petition is presented, Council will use it's democratic processes to debate the request. 

We do not bellieve the TPP will bring net benefits to our region or to NZ as a whole and we will continue to oppose it.  

Declaration undemocratic

Unilaterally 'declaring' the Octagon anything politically, and especially council declaring Dunedin anything politically with no mandate, would be a surprisingly undemocratic action for a campaign that claims to want to "protect our democracy".

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