Is Govt running scared from TPPA’s implications for Māori?

The Government shouldn’t have argued against the Waitangi Tribunal fast tracking two claims regarding the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) because this has worrying implications for natural justice, the Green Party said today.

“The Tribunal should be bringing forward an urgent hearing, as they did with the water claim for the sale of state owned power companies, because it’ll be too late if these claims aren’t heard before the TPPA is finalised,” Green Party Co-leader Metiria Turei said.

“The Government shouldn’t have argued against an urgent hearing, because the Waitangi Tribunal’s expert opinion on the TPPA’s implications for Māori rights would be a useful addition to the public debate.

“Māori have raised legitimate concerns around intellectual property and the secrecy surrounding the TPPA negotiations which may infringe on Māori governance rights – it’s not enough for the Government to brush these off and say it’ll all be ok without hearing the Tribunal’s expert advice.

“The US has all sorts of internal sign-off processes for trade agreements like the TPPA – in New Zealand we don’t have as many legal checks and balances and that’s why it’s so important to recognise and use those that we do have, like the Treaty of Waitangi.

“The Government keeps saying that the TPPA won’t have any effect on the Treaty relationships between Crown and Māori, but actually that’s up to the Waitangi Tribunal to decide.

“All New Zealanders would benefit from hearing the Tribunal’s opinion on the relationship between the Crown, Māori, and the TPPA, especially seeing as the Government keeps getting Treaty issues wrong – most recently, it seems, over the first right of refusal for Crown land in Auckland housing areas.

“The claimants have said they’d be ready for an urgent hearing within 48 hours so there’s really no good reason the Crown shouldn’t have to face the Tribunal,” said Mrs Turei.