Matters Of Debate | Issue 20

Matters Of Debate | Issue 20

The Dunedin City Council should declare Dunedin a TPP free zone

This column is written by the Otago University Debating Society, which meets for social debating every Tuesday at 6pm in the Commerce Building

Affirmative, by By Rocky Balboa

Dunedin should not adopt the TPP for the same reasons the rest of New Zealand should not. While, in principle, it offers New Zealand a prosperous and bountiful future, its benefits, in fact, are vastly overshadowed by its costs: sovereign freedom and economic security. 

The TPP poses an overt threat to the sovereignty of New Zealand. By delegating to trading industries, measures by which they can exert influence over our government, the freedom of New Zealanders becomes subject to the demands of foreign conglomerates. What’s more is, as corporations transcend national boundaries, they have decreasing concern for the nations they bear down upon; and where our interests are called into opposition, corporations would take legal precedence over our government. This may involve the public’s voice on one of New Zealand's fundamental values, such as the protection of the environment, being drowned out.

Our democratically elected representatives should be able to make decisions which benefit us without fear of intervention by those who have no invested interest in the wellbeing of New Zealand, save for our exports. To ensure a functional society, the TPP needs, at minimum, a framework to protect the interests of New Zealanders before it could be embraced.

The TPP will also impact local industries. An inability to place tariffs on imports will hamper New Zealand’s ability to protect both small start-up businesses and the development of important national industries, which could fuel unemployment.

The TPP requires every participant to adhere to universal policies (particularly regarding intellectual property) and such a high standard of economic regulation will not be met easily by small businesses. Overhauling New Zealand’s current adherence to international agreements will be expensive and complicated. 

Free trade should be a right afforded to all. The TPP is a step away from an equitable and liberal international economic arena. It endangers our sovereignty and local business livelihood. It is a fatally flawed document that requires a great deal of review before being considered even remotely acceptable to New Zealand and its people.

Negative, by The Godfather

The DCC recently moaned about central government’s intention to limit their powers. For a Council who waste time voting on issues within central government’s power, generating their own ideas on issues they govern over, like South Dunedin’s poor infrastructure, might help to prove they have some use.                

Unfortunately the left-wing are more inclined to stand for Council. These bright and affable lefties play second fiddle to professional politician types. The types who in social media are experts on absolutely everything, yet struggle to grasp substantive policy in their actual portfolios. Grant Robertson’s obsession with hounding Judith Collins means issues like NZ’s largest ever trade deal, lack a considered contribution from Labour. 

No doubt a Councillor, probably Aaron Hawkins in his crusade against neo-liberalism, will suggest Dunedin become a TPP free zone. This is an MOU win-win, filling the void left by Labour’s confused stance while the DCC urban late sipper’s can delay grappling with housing or city planning.     

If the DCC debates the TPP, they should, in all seriousness, consider how nations much poorer than New Zealand stand to benefit. In Vietnam, for example, a person’s average income is only five percent of the average New Zealander’s income. Studies indicate the TPP will lift many developing countries, like Vietnam, out of poverty. The average income per person in five of the countries is under half of the NZ average income. Why should individuals in poor nations be disadvantaged because Western Governments through import taxes provide artificial advantages (which the TPP helps eliminate) to their own companies?

Despite claiming to be enlightened about “white privilege,” the NZ left have failed to articulate anything about how the TPP impacts the world’s poorest. Barack Obama, Helen Clark, and Hillary Clinton know the far reaching benefits the TPP has for developing nations hence why they helped start negotiations. 

Let’s hope our all-knowing councillors, if given the chance, can at least try to consider how the TPP impacts less fortunate countries, and avoid simplistic “sovereignty” arguments, more suited to the vile Donald Trump’s and Nigel Farrage’s of the world.

This article first appeared in Issue 20, 2016.
Posted 12:47pm Sunday 21st August 2016 by Otago University Debating Society.