National appears to be giving foreign corporations extra rights to sue governments if they legislate to act in the national interest, says the Green Party.
New documents, leaked today, show that under the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA), the investor state section under negotiation appears to go further than similar clauses in existing trade documents.
“National is governing in the interest of foreign companies at the expense of local interests,” said Green Party trade spokesperson James Shaw.
“The Prime Minister needs to say if New Zealand’s negotiators are supportive of giving foreign corporations extra rights under this agreement compared to other free trade agreements.
“This agreement could put a massive handbrake on domestic law making. If those companies don’t like us legislating in our national interest they can sue us.
“If New Zealanders vote for greater environmental protections or rules to assist local business we should be able to do that. But under these rules foreign companies can trump the public's vote.”
The leaked documents show that there are provisions for setting up a special court which multinational corporations can use to sue countries, such as New Zealand, for breaching the TPPA.
“Cases in these special courts overseas have seen governments have to pay companies millions of dollars. These courts can have a chilling effect on local democracy,” said Mr Shaw.
“Essentially, the TPPA will stop future governments from putting our domestic interests ahead of the extensive rights being given to foreign companies.
“Setting up special courts for foreign companies that give them more rights than our own Government is just plain undemocratic.
“New Zealand should not be dictated by a special court set up for companies that has no domestic accountability or oversight,” said Mr Shaw.