Tuesday, October 06, 2015

MPs are listening on open diplomacy

One area of huge public disquiet around the TPP negotiations is secrecy: everything about them is secret, and a precondition of negotiations was accepting a "confidentiality" agreement forbidding the release of negotiating material for five years after any deal is agreed. The net result is that "our" government has been telling its negotiating partners things without telling us, enabling them to lie to us about what they are negotiating away. And they were explicitly caught doing so on the issue of the investment-state dispute settlement clause.

Some politicians at least have picked up on this disquiet, with NZ First proposing a member's bill to open negotiations to Parliamentary scrutiny:

“The concerns of New Zealanders are being ignored as the Cabinet makes the decision to sign us up to the TPPA. So New Zealand First is urgently putting forward a bill to stop such anti-democratic behaviour,” says New Zealand First Spokesperson for Trade Fletcher Tabuteau.

“The International Transparent Treaties Bill 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.

Its not the full open diplomacy legislation requiring proactive disclosure of all material shared with other parties that I'd like, but scrutiny by select committee during negotiations is undoubtedly a step forward. And hopefully it will be drawn from the ballot and passed.