In November last year, Prime Minister John Key described as "far-fetched" the idea that investors could sue the New Zealand government directly in a secret international tribunal to enforce rules in the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA). This week, US trade negotiator Barbara Wiesel said that was no longer New Zealand's position, according to TPPA critic Professor Jane Kelsey. In response to questions about New Zealand and Australian positions during a briefing to civil society in Washington on 31st January Ms Wiesel said "New Zealand had retracted the Prime Minister's statement. It is not their position."What does it mean?
The Key government is happy for pharmaceutical firms in the US, Australian banks or Singapore-based Brierley Investments to sue the New Zealand government for millions in compensation if they think new laws or policies are unfair or unreasonable or erode their profitability", said Professor Kelsey.
Why the change in position?
"Either John Key did not know what his negotiators were proposing to do when he described investor-state enforcement as "far-fetched"; or he was lying to the New Zealand public; or he has buckled to pressure from the US, and possibly his own Minister and officials, to agree."
And why is this so important?
"This proposed bill of rights for foreign investors is even more frightening when government has announced assets sales and privatisation of ACC, policies which failed in the past and required the government to step back in."
Some may say that all of these areas are unconnected but just watch - they are all connected - when brownlee said the 'for sale' sign was up he was deadly serious.