Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Imposing NeoLiberalism by the backdoor

Back in March, the government introduced the Regulatory Standards Bill to the House. Part of ACT's coalition deal, the bill will require all legislation to conform to (a highly ideological definition of) "good regulatory practice", and allow any legislation that does not to be overturned by the courts (providing greater protection for property than for fundamental human rights). Ironically, the bill did not meet its own criteria, and was too NeoLiberlaism much even for Treasury to swallow. It looked likely to die at Second Reading, unless ACTs votes are required next term.

Enter the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Ostensibly a trade treaty, the US government wants to use it to boost pharmaceutical-industry profits by banning us from saving money by bulk-buying pharmaceuticals through Pharmac. So, they're pushing for a Regulatory Standards Bill-style process, allowing laws to be challenged and overturned on cost-benefit grounds, as a way of tying Pharmac up and making it afraid to make decisions. This is a fundamental constitutional change for us. And our government looks like they will impose it on us not through a public discussion followed by a referendum or Parliamentary vote, but by stealth, through a treaty negotiated in secret and presented to us as a fait accompli.

This is undemocratic in the extreme. But its what happens when you let your foreign policy be conducted in secret: it ends up being used to launder radical domestic policy, which no-one would ever vote for, and ram it down our throats. And its just another in the long list of reasons why we need total transparency in our foreign policy: so our government and officials can't betray us by pulling stunts like this.