Thursday, October 08, 2015

For transparent treaties

The other day I blogged about NZ First's new International Transparent Treaties Bill, which according to its press release "will give Parliament or Select Committees the right to examine and review the terms of the TPPA and other international treaties before or during negotiation". The bill is now online, and while it does do that, its not quite in the way I was expecting. Instead of open diplomacy, its a new version of Rod Donald's 2003 International Treaties Bill, requiring the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade to present any proposed international treaty to the House and for the House to approve any binding action such as signature (the final clause of the bill preserves the current constitutional understanding that treaties in and of themselves do not create NZ law). So, its transparency at the end of the process, but not (as suggested by NZ First) during it. Still, it would be a massive improvement over the process we have at the moment (where a government without a majority can effectively bind future Parliaments solely on its word), and something we should welcome.