Date: 28 October 2014
Source: Manawatu Standard
Palmerston North people will take to the streets next week as part of nationwide protests against the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA).
The TPPA is a trade deal being negotiated between New Zealand and 11 other Asia-Pacific countries, the biggest of which are Japan and the United States.
Opponents warn it will be detrimental to New Zealand’s economy and environment.
But Government ministers have repeatedly said the deal would be beneficial to the New Zealand economy by opening trade opportunities.
Trade Minister Tim Groser has said economic benefits to New Zealand of the TPPA deal could be worth several billion dollars a year.
Palmerston North rally organiser Sue Pugmire said there was growing concern about the impact of the agreement on many aspects of the New Zealand way of life.
"It will affect every New Zealander through prices of medicines, surgery and surgical parts, education changes, a polluted environment, loss of internet freedom and a loss of democracy and sovereignty," she said.
"Trade deals like NAFTA spread unemployment and poverty. This one is worse. It overrides our New Zealand laws. It even takes away control of what’s in our food and water."
A lineup of former and current MPs, councillors and academics will speak at the Palmerston North event, including Horizons councillor Rachel Keedwell, Massey University Associate Professor Jeff Sluker, anti-fracking activist Sarah Roberts, NZ First MP Darroch Ball, former mayor Jill White, former city councillor Bruce Wilson, city councillors Lew Findlay and Tangi Utikere and Palmy Panthers members Teanau Tuiono and Te Ao Pritchard.
The Palmerston North event will be one of 15 TPPA protests across the country.
A number of anti-TPPA events have been held in the city already this year.
In March a group gathered in The Square to voice their concerns. The event featured speeches and music from artists from the lower North Island and Auckland.
Opinions were also voiced in lectures at Palmerston North City Library and in deputations to the Palmerston North City and Horizons Regional councils.
The Manawatu Standard asked Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce about the TPPA when he visited Palmerston North earlier this year and he called the concerns of TPPA opponents a "fantasy".
There was no way the Government would sign a deal that weakened environmental regulations or did not benefit New Zealand, Joyce said. ###