Press Release – It’s Our Future
During six years of unnecessarily secretive negotiations on the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA), members of the public were repeatedly assured they would eventually be able to have their democratic say on the TPPA. In February, the new Trade Minister, …28 February 2016
For Immediate Release
Democratic Deficit on the TPPA continues
During six years of unnecessarily secretive negotiations on the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA), members of the public were repeatedly assured they would eventually be able to have their democratic say on the TPPA. In February, the new Trade Minister, Todd McClay promised that there would be a flexible schedule, with enough time for public submissions.
But now, with nine working days left before the deadline for submissions on the TPPA inquiry, these promises have not been fulfilled. Despite previous assurances, the Foreign Affairs Defence and Trade Select Committee has not yet extended the due date for submissions. It is inconsistent that the deadline for submissions currently falls before most of the government’s planned information sessions on the TPPA.
The Spokesperson for It’s Our Future, Barry Coates, has written a second letter to the Chair of the Select Committee Mark Mitchell MP, calling for an extension to be announced as soon as possible. “This is a huge and complex agreement, with significant impacts across our society. There are over 6000 pages of legal text in the agreement and side letters. It is also evident that there is huge public concern – a majority of the public according to the TV3/Reid Research poll in November 2015. Yet the government has only allowed the standard time for submissions. The Select Committee needs to extend the due date for submissions until after the information sessions have been held.”
Coates continued, “The Committee has also not yet agreed to hold any hearings outside Wellington. This leaves submitters in limbo, unaware of whether they will be able to deliver evidence in person to the Committee. The Select Committee needs to let intending submitters know as soon as possible that they will be able to give evidence at hearings in provincial centres across New Zealand.”
“This gives the impression of a rushed process that will not allow sufficient time for proper democratic input. In an unusual move, the Committee has invited oral evidence even before the submission deadline, and has asked for this to be given by skype, rather than in person. This is not consistent with a fair and democratic process. The Select Committee urgently needs to make sure the inquiry process supports the full and objective scrutiny that is required for the TPPA.”
A letter was sent to the Select Committee today. A previous letter raising similar issues was sent on 15 February. The Committee has not revealed how many submissions have been received but It’s Our Future is aware of more than 2500 submissions having been sent to the Committee so far.