Would you imagine that any government would be stupid enough to sign an international agreement that would allow overseas corporations to sue it, in secretive offshore tribunals claiming that new laws and regulations (for example a ban on fracking, GE, smoking control laws or a cap on electricity prices) have seriously undermined the value of their investments?
Well, that is what the New Zealand Government and ten other countries around the Pacific Rim are negotiating right now under the TPPA, the secret Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement, and President Obama wants it signed by October of this year. Of course the country that has the most to gain will be the US and their corporations!
And do you really think the US needs our dairy products – the sale of which is the supposed benefit for NZ by joining the TPPA?
From what has been gleaned so far, if the negotiations are completed it will make it much harder for governments to pass new laws, to look after the environment, promote health, protect workers (from longer hours, less pay and possibly shorter holidays) and consumers, less stringent quality control, and very importantly not promote the public interest as it defers to lobbyists and private privileged interests.
Labeling of GE foods, for example, would be banned in the interest of the harmonization of laws between countries. The same for labeling country of origin of food. Present tobacco and cigarette rulings could be overridden and the same for alcohol.
We may have to compromise PHARMAC if restrictions are placed on generic medicines, thus making medicine more expensive.
Copyright laws will be toughened and more harshly enforced, restricting internet freedom and access to information.
Foreign banks, insurance companies and money traders will gain more powers to challenge laws designed to prevent another financial crisis.
If and when this secret Agreement is signed, it will not be debated in Parliament here in New Zealand, but will only need to be OK'd by the Cabinet thus short circuiting democracy in this country.
The list goes on.
“The TPPA could also be looked as a way of containing China in the Pacific”, Dr Kelsey says.
Professor of Law, Dr Jane Kelsey has been at the forefront of the opposition to the TPPA and she speaks candidly about the information that has been obtained through leaked documents, and the possible scenarios if it is signed.
Jane Kelsey has an MPhil from the University of Cambridge and a PhD from the University of Auckland. She has worked at the University of Auckland since 1979 and was appointed to a personal Chair in Law in 1997.
She a key member of the Action Resource Education Network of Aotearoa (Arena), and is actively involved in researching and speaking out against the World Trade Organisation, the International Monetary Fund, free trade and corporate-led globalisation.
She is also actively involved in campaigning for the New Zealand Government's full recognition of the Treaty of Waitangi and opposed the controversial seabed and foreshore legislation.
She has been an activist academic and public intellectual for more than 30 years.
Dr Christoph Schumacher: Professor of Innovation and Economics, Massey University Auckland, posits the question from his recent exceptionally well attended public lecture.
"I saw this professorial lecture as a chance to say what I’ve really wanted to say for years, that our current economic mantra is always about growth, but continuous economic growth is not environmentally sustainable, and it is not making us happy.
"Should we be aiming for continual economic growth within a finite environment?"
In other words, are we New Zealanders becoming more happier and less stressed with our current economic system of unrelenting economic growth that consumes resources and pollutes our planet?
‘There’s not a single country (other than possibly Bhutan) on this planet that doesn’t have economic growth as one of its key targets. But we have to stop and ask ourselves why?
'The drive for greater growth and productivity is depleting our resources without satisfying our material desires. He has linked current GDP growth with various happiness surveys and found the more we grow our national wealth, the less happy we become.'
This interview covers areas of where innovation needs to be encouraged with more readily available financial resources, tax incentives (and disincentives) as well as better planning and know how.
Also, the perceived leadership especially from the higher echelons of Government needing to language far more of the basic attributes of community and what we are leaving for our children's future.
For example, NZers are working longer and harder than we were 6 years ago but in Germany there are laws keeping work to 35 to 37 hours a week, and yet their profitability is better and according to Christoph, a German worker works about 400 hours a year less than NZ. That equals 50 days, and as Germany is doing economically very well, where is NZ putting its focus and what is it that we want to ‘grow?'
Is over arching media, a big intrusive programming machine, telling us to buy this, think that, go there, try these, making NZers spend beyond their means? Like; Buying Now, to Save? ‘And New Zealanders are right at the top of that list – our credit card debt is one of the highest in the OECD.’
We are being manipulated by TV, yet in Northern Europe there are laws outlawing certain types of TV advertising in front of children of a certain age.
Subjects this interview covers, our Government instead of being servants of the people, are pushing other agendas? Being business friendly at the expense of the environment, and sustainability, not encouraging organics, a cleaner and greener country and that the TPPA the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement is not being looked at or even acknowledged within the academic arena?
Christoph’s favourite quote comes from British ecological economist Tim Jackson: "Our problem is we are persuaded to buy things we don’t need, with money we don’t have, to make impressions that won’t last, on people we don’t care about." That’s it in a nutshell.
An interesting insight to how universities in NZ are positioning themselves in the narrative of commerce and community and how humans should live in these very rapidly changing of times. Especially, with increasing corporate dominance of our country and what this may mean for our common future.
Robina McCurdy: Community development facilitator, Organic gardener, Permaculture Educator, Land-use designer and Food localiser.
One of the best known permaculture teachers in NZ, Robina has taken her innovative approach to South Africa and into their schools the 'Permaculture curriculum' and assisted large numbers of people to become more self reliant and sustainable in growing of gardens and food production. Especially in squatter settlements, which have been funded by the NZ High Commission, where she trained up teams so as to make herself redundant, which is totally in opposition to todays economic ways which wants you to become 'dependent on the system.’
Starting young on an organic market garden in Christchurch, in an extended family in Harewood planting and harvesting was a joyful thing with aunties and uncles and cousins and the experiencing and knowing of community and connection with the land, and in particular the feeling that this was perfectly normal and not a rare event, and this 'connection' never left her.
Robina, has for the last 30 years lived in the Tui Community, a land co-op and charitable trust next to the Able Tasman National Park in Golden Bay, growing their own food and that, by extension the land has become embodied within her, and at very deep levels. To co-exist with wild life as well, all within an overarching cosmology that is embedded in Permaculture. Being a true marriage of the environment and the needs of the people.
Working in co operation with nature … then once nestled in, can start with growing food, then shelter and housing, community etc … a food forest.
She is now touring NZ with Earth Care Education Aotearoa where she is finding many gardens and groups across the land doing superbly and quietly working with the earth which she enthusiastically calls our taonga.
Working with Susie Lees and Politics of food security
http://localisingfood.weebly.com - they are assisting with understanding rights and responsibilities and ‘No to GE’ and what laws and legislation we need, to keep the community and grass roots organizations growing etc. Plus, being aware of the TPPA the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement and what impact it would have on this country as a top down agenda …
She uses the metaphor that NZ farming has at present diverged into two differing streams running down different sides of the mountain. One is organic, dynamic, free flow, non chemically driven, smaller families, nature friendly, soft on the earth and giving back to the environment, whilst the other is top down management, big business, exploitative, industrial, chemically driven, profit at all costs, energy and resources intensive that pollutes degrades and denatures the country. Exporting … our soils, our water …our natural resources … our taonga …
This signals the dichotomy of what we as a nation are doing with big money as the driver of the latter, and though bringing in huge monetary volume, is very short term thinking with no long term sustainable outlook.
Topics also covered:
The great turning that Joanna Macy calls where ethical consumption, the slow food movement, calculation of food miles, our ecological planetary footprint and the other … based on both fear and disconnect from Papatuanuku, our physical sustainer (no blame or no judgement) where everything is seen as up for grabs to pillage and take, and giving nothing really back being just a gigantic resource snatch.
Also covering the spiritual dimension in how we live and be and do in the moment trusting in living in the now, that what we manifest for the betterment of the whole takes us forward into the new paradigm in hand with how our ancestors and how our tipuna would like to see, being a natural and more cohesive world that comes into being.
This inspirational interview covers a wide realm of what is happening across the land of NZ at a grass roots level, and will leave you in a very optimistic frame of mind to get out and work the soil and grow both yourself and your community, your own healthy sustenance.
Robert, from the far North in North Auckland is a vegetable grower who decided back in 1997 and with one other founded the Whangarei growers market. This market is the largest and oldest market of its kind in New Zealand and by many accounts is one of the most thriving growers (farmers) markets in the country, attracting between 4500 to 5000 shoppers every Saturday morning.
It is a 'David vs Goliath' success story that has enabled growers once on the brink of ruin, who were sick of the supermarket chains squeezing their returns, reorganized themselves and broke free. The market has grown by word of mouth and social networking and does absolutely no advertising to sell direct to the public.
This interview covers the challenges faced, the food that is produced, virtually all spray free, and moving towards more organic, fruit veggies, dairy, meat, fish, honey and is a place where relationships develop between suppliers and the public.
This is a place for small to medium growers to sell their produce, based on a set of simple principles that do not allow in the big boys and is a superb example of community coming together for mutual benefit.
GE Free Northland is also covered in this interview.