AUCKLAND (Pacific Media Watch): A leading critic of the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement tonight showed off "Tim the dead rat" to rousing cheers, laughter and applause as a packed Auckland Town Hall heard devastating critiques of the controversial deal.
Law professor Jane Kelsey's toy rat lightened up the evening for a moment, but she and former United States trade lawyer Lori Wallach tore the agreement to shreds in their harsh criticism.
Wallach told the crowd they were "not alone" as she detailed the strong opposition in the US Congress and from front-runners in the presidential race, which she said would eventually stop the pact in its tracks.
Ministers of the 12-country trade pact are due to sign it in Auckland on Thursday in a symbolic gesture, but one that was described by many speakers at the event as "arrogant" and an "insult to all Māori" just days before Waitangi Day.
Dr Kelsey said the pact was not yet a "done deal" and said the information and opposition campaign would run until the next election.
Most speakers condemned the pact as not being about trade, but a surrender of New Zealand's sovereignty to the US corporations achieved through a flawed anti-democratic process.
At odds with Māori
Earlier, Dr Kelsey said in an interview with Radio Waatea that the reforms proposed in the deal were at odds with where the Māori economy was heading.
The government had turned up the rhetoric on the deal over the past few days, saying it offered increased earnings for Māori exporters and jobs for Māori workers.
But Professor Jane Kelsey told interviewer Willie Jackson any tariff reductions would take years to kick in, and that was not the area where the Māori economy was growing.
"It is growing by relationship trading. It's building networks, it's not about, you reduce your tariffs and our economy will grow.
It's a very kaupapa Māori-based approach, although I know there is a debate within Māori about that. So [the TPPA is] not the kind of model that's the growth model for the Māori economy, even if you are going to be looking at that narrow part of it," she says.
Dr Kelsey said the Waitangi Tribunal claim to be heard in March would cover other likely effects of the TPPA such as making it harder for Māori to access affordable medicines and the obstacles put up on protecting the environment.
Professor Kelsey and Wallach will speak about the TPPA tomorrow in Wellington at St Andrews Church on the Terrace, on Thursday at the Pop Up Cathedral in Christchurch and at Dunedin’s Burns Hall on Friday.
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