On Thursday 1st of March, 6 members of the Christchurch group Our Children’s Future locked themselves to train tracks in protest of our government signing the TPPA-11 (CPTPP) in Chile on the 8th of March. See the video and media release below of their action;
Protesters Locked to Train Track Say TPPA is the Same Bad Deal
Four women and two men have locked themselves to a train track in Christchurch demanding sustainable economics and an end to the re-branded TPPA.
Speaking for the group, ‘Our Children’s Future’, Josie Butler said “This is essentially the same deal that 75% of New Zealanders opposed when National were in the drivers seat. The CPTPP will contain the entire old agreement. 22 of the 1000+ provisions have been suspended, pending US re-entry, but they have not been removed.”
The group, supported by thirty others holding banners saying “Stop the TPPA in its tracks”, ‘TPPA Wrong Track” and “Sustainable Economics Now” are concerned that increased exports made possible by the TPPA will mean further
intensification of the dairy industry and lead to further pressure on local rivers through more nitrate pollution and higher irrigation takes.
“We need to have a conversation about water in this country before we just assume that increased exports are a good thing because of economic growth” according to spokesperson Gen de Spa. “There are other concerns as well, like climate change,” says de Spa, “you may say that a trade agreement isn’t a climate agreement but the reality is that trade in goods and service is where the carbon emissions are created. Look at our dairy industry, oil industry, transport of all those goods. If we do not address climate change in trade agreements then the climate agreements are not worth the paper they are written on. In 2018 we have an obligation to develop new people and planet-friendly ethical trade rules”
One of Labour’s bottom lines for the deal was restricting the foreign ownership of residential property. Legislation is currently being rushed through Parliament under urgency, because it won’t be possible to pass that legislation once the CPTPP is Signed and Ratified. The Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) mechanisms have not been removed or suspended, although a small change was made restricting corporations from suing in the case of government contracts.
The TPPA faced massive resistance under the National government. Tens of thousands of people marched, signed petitions, wrote submissions and got informed. “The changes Labour have made are minor,” says de Spa “TPPA has taken years to get to this point and we have survived ok without it. Labour say they will pursue people friendly values-based trade agreements into the future. Why then lock NZ and the Pacific nations into a treaty that goes down the wrong track? Let’s do some proper impact assessments! Don’t sign something in our name when you can’t even tell us what the full impacts are because you haven’t even tried to assess them.”
The group said they decided to block the train track ‘to make the strongest point possible, whilst pissing off as few people as possible.’
“People think we have to be in this deal to get the gains, but the TPPA is only going to increase our GDP by 1% in 20 years time. In the last 40 years our GDP has increased by 4000% and in the same period we have managed to get 300,000 of our children into poverty. That the Christchurch earthquakes increased GDP by more than 1% says lots about GDP not being a good measure of wellbeing.
Gen states, “everyone knows the growth from the TPPA will mean intensifying our dairy industry – more nitrates in the water and less water in the rivers.”
“$4 billion they reckon from the TPPA in 20 years time. We could make $3.6 billion per year from tomorrow if we charged a royalty on bottled water, but we can’t do that because of our Free Trade Agreements! You’ve really got to be asking ‘what ARE the gains? And wouldn’t we be better off NOT in it?’” said de Spa.
“Human history has been a constant struggle between people clinging desperately to wealth and power and people trying to make them share the earth’s resources more fairly. We are a part of the long history of people resisting oppression and austerity, and looking at what’s happening in the world, we are on the right side.”
The locked on women and men are;
Gen de Spa age 47, great auntie.
Rachel age 44, mother of 3 beautiful children.
Torfrida age 67, aunt and step grandmother.
Leanne age 45, mother of one bright eleven year old.
Shane age 47, uncle to 2 young men
Tim age 47, step father to children.