Media release from Paul Bruce and Sue Kedgley
Trans Pacific Trade Agreement measures that impact on local government’s ability to make decisions such as procurement were questioned at a meeting of the Greater Wellington Regional Council yesterday. The Council expressed its concern in a motion.
The motion also noted that New Zealand negotiators did not agree with proposed measures such as those relating to pharmaceuticals, intellectual property and environmental measures.
However, Councillors Paul Bruce and Sue Kedgley voted against a recommendation which endorsed the parliamentary process that is used to ratify treaties.
Councillor Kedgley said that a statement from MFAT did not correctly inform Councillors as to the limited ability of a Parliamentary select committee to consider a treaty.
“The parliamentary process is a rubber stamp,” she said. “Cabinet signs treaties, not parliament. MPs will be given just 15 days to examine the complex, lengthy TPPA treaty, and they will not be able to amend it. Treaties are not normally debated in Parliament or voted on, so the process is little more than a sham.”
Councillor Paul Bruce, the proposer of the original motion, said that the Regional Council was sending an important message to the Government.
“We are concerned that negotiators must take a strong position against any measures which might restrict the ability of central and local government to give a degree of preference to tenders from local suppliers. This would be the case, even if they are slightly more expensive than overseas competitors as many local governments have done, or favour local suppliers if two proposals are equal, as Greater Wellington Regional Council does.
“Greater Wellington’s purchasing policy shows leadership in the promotion of sustainable business practices. It favours suppliers who adhere to sound environmentally practices and we want to continue to do that“, he concluded.
News release – 9 December
Greater Wellington Regional Councillor Paul Bruce, has placed a motion on the Council order paper for Thursday, questioning Government support for a Transpacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA).
Councillor Bruce said that Greater Wellington’s purchasing policy shows showing leadership in the promotion of sustainable business practices, by
· Favouring suppliers who adhere to sound environmentally practices.
· Specifying appropriate raw materials, finished products and operating practices
However, a government procurement chapter of the Transpacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) could stop future central and local governments giving an advantage to local suppliers to help economic development. It could also prevent governments requiring suppliers to meet conditions such as paying a living wage, or health and safety initiatives being developed, possibly some aspects of environmental protection and Greenhouse Emissions.
Cr Bruce said that local governments must be allowed to accept tenders from local suppliers even if they are slightly more expensive than overseas competitors as many local governments have done.
The agreements do not allow conditions on suppliers other than those that are essential to ensure that they have the legal and financial capacities and the commercial and technical abilities to supply the goods or services. That does not allow governments to say suppliers should pay a living wage. Nor does it allow a government to require that suppliers have workplace health and safety standards that above the minimum required for employers in general, as was recommended by the Independent Taskforce on Workplace Health and Safety and accepted by the Government.
“The Government must also tell us which government entities are being bound up by these agreements. Future governments can change domestic rules – but not if these international agreements are signed. Local Government needs answers to many questions before the TPPA goes any further.”