Halley’s Comet visits more often than I agree with Sue Bradford, but she’s right to object to the indecent haste with which the TPPA is being pushed through Parliament.Given the controversy over the trade agreement and the lack of public disclosure when it was being negotiated, I thought the limited time allowed for people to make submissions was bad enough.
After all, this is a document that runs to 6000 pages and was seven years in the making. Even if you accept arguments about the need for secrecy while it was under negotiation, people deserved time to digest its complex contents once the wraps were off. That they were expected to prepare their submissions even while the government’s explanatory road show was still touring the country just didn’t seem fair.Now National has abbreviated the process further by giving Parliament’s Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade select committee only five days – reduced from one month – in which to produce a report from the hundreds of submissions made. The National-dominated committee will be writing its report even as submissions are still being heard.
Appearances are important, and this just looks completely wrong. It makes a mockery of due process and will only confirm, in the minds of opponents, that the TPPA doesn’t stand up to critical scrutiny.More to the point, it will have the effect of making people who are neutral on the issue – and there are plenty of them – begin to suspect that the government really is being dodgy and evasive.
On Morning Report this morning, Steve Hoadley of Auckland University, while criticising the haste, suggested people’s minds were probably pretty well made up already over the TPPA. I disagree. I think a lot of New Zealanders remain undecided on the benefits of the agreement and were counting on open and honest parliamentary scrutiny and debate before coming to any firm conclusion. They are entitled to expect that much.If National wanted to give the impression it really wasn’t interested in giving the public a proper say on the TPPA, it couldn’t have done a better job. It seems to be saying, “We’ll push this through because we can. We have the numbers. Nyah nyah nyah.” This is the type of third-term arrogance that gets governments tipped out of office.