Children Of Gaza

 In December 2008, the Israeli Defence Force unleashed a campaign to destroy the ability of Hamas to launch rockets and mortars into Israel. Around 300 children were among the 1,300 Palestinians that were killed. After the ceasefire, BAFTA-winning filmmaker Jezza Neumann arrived in Gaza to follow the lives of three children over a year.

Surrounded by the remnants of the demolished Gaza Strip and increasingly isolated by the blockade that prevents anyone from rebuilding their homes and their lives, Children of Gaza is a shocking, touching and uniquely intimate reflection on extraordinary courage in the face of great adversity





Save Rapanui Day of Protest Los Angeles

Thursday, Dec. 23rd, 2010
11am to 1:30pm
6100 Wilshire Blvd. #1240
LA, CA 90048
corner of Wilshire and Fairfax


Wai 796 report good for the climate

MEDIA RELEASE: 'Wai 796 report good for the climate'
DATE: EMBARGOED UNTIL 12pm, 22nd December 2010
FROM: Climate Justice Taranaki

Wai 796 report good for the climate

"The waitangi Tribunal 796 Report on the Management of the Petroleum  Resource, released today, is a clear finding that the Crown breached  the rights and protection of tangata whenua promised in Te Tiriti o Waitangi. If the Tribunal's recommendations are accepted by the crown it will be a step towards greater community involvement in decision-making and stronger environmental protections. We expect the crown won't accept but it's good to make the communities demands  heard" said Climate Justice Taranaki and Otaraua hapu member Emily Bailey.

"This month's disastrous Cancun climate talks put tackling climate change into the hands of fossil fuel companies, the capitalist market and corrupt governments. Most specialists have come out saying that
the change in management will now increase world temperatures by 7°C resulting in near global genocide of the poor" continued Bailey.

For decades the oil and gas industry has been making billions of dollars from the Taranaki region with very little coming to local communities and environmental protections near zero. Maori have
consistently called for greater protections and mining access to be disallowed in some areas. The crown delegated responsibility to councils who were allowed to disregard the legal rights of tangata
whenua, under the Resource Management Act and Te Tiriti o Waitangi, and imposed access licences that caused the destruction of over 100 waahi tapu in the rohe of one Taranaki hapu alone.

Under the so-called management of these councils we had NZ's largest oil spill near Okato in 2007, which saw a pitiful fine of only $105,000 paid by the polluter. Two more oil spills this year were
barely even reported because they happened outside of council jurisdiction.

Now, more oil and gas exploration permits have just been awarded to numerous multi-national companies, covering an area of nearly 300,000 square kilometres. This is over 42 times the current area being mined for oil and gas.

"It's crazy. We are supposed to be reducing greenhouse gas emissions not majorly increasing them. The permitted land, sea and air discharges could seriously pollute groundwater and soils, wipe out marinelife and threaten livelihoods not just locally but globally through the added effects of climate chaos" added Bailey.

"We will not watch silently as Papatuanuku and Ranginui are threatened by profit-driven companies for the benefit of the rich. Instead, we are organising a movement here in Taranaki to confront and stop the
rampant mining and stand in solidarity with people across the world who are resisting at the front lines of climate change" read a statement by Climate Justice Taranaki.



1. Climate Justice Taranaki is part of the Climate Camp Aotearoa (CCA) network. CCA is part of the inernational Climate Justice Action Network which calls for horizontal organising of direct action and
people-based solutions, not market solutions to climate change.

2. A hui is planned for early 2011 in Taranaki to discuss plans to stop the mining


It's the most wondeful time of the year

A video highlight reel of 2010's best riots set to inappropriate music. Enjoy!

Wikileaks Exposes NZ Government Duplicity on TPP

19 December 2010
For immediate release

Critic Calls for Honesty after Wikileaks Exposes Government Duplicity on TPP
“The government should stop its propaganda campaign to sell the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement to unsuspecting New Zealanders and tell them what it has told the United States government itself,” said Professor Jane Kelsey, author of a book of academic essays critical of the proposed deal.*

US diplomatic cables that reveal the views of New Zealand’s lead negotiator Mark Sinclair are included in Wikileaks documents analysed by Nicky Hager in today’s [19 Dec] Sunday Star-Times.
As recently as February this year, New Zealand’s own chief negotiator Mark Sinclair conceded to US officials there was little in a TPP Agreement for New Zealand. The only real “pay-off” was a remote long-term prospect to “put the squeeze” on Japan and Korea to stop protecting their agricultural markets.

Sinclair reportedly pointed to “a public perception that getting into the US will be an ‘El Dorado’ for New Zealand's commercial sector. However, the reality is different.’”
Professor Kelsey observed that this “false perception” has been scripted by the government itself.
“When our book was released, the Prime Minister and private sector cheerleaders peremptorily dismissed the same kind of criticisms that officials have voiced behind closed doors.”

“The cable confirmed that US firms have our GM regulations, restrictions on foreign ownership of land and mineral resources, and intellectual property laws, including Pharmac, squarely in their sights.”
A second set of cables from 2004 analysed by the New Zealand Herald show the US diplomatic post has been working with its pharmaceutical companies to undermine the world-leading Pharmac drug purchasing regime that makes medicines affordable to New Zealanders, claiming this would enhance New Zealanders’ access to health care.

The cable suggests the US drug industry helped foment the furore over Herceptin and Alzheimers medicines as part of campaign to “fire up pressure from below”.
“The cable confirms that ‘US Big Pharma’ will use a TPPA to target Pharmac and other intellectual property laws”, said Professor Kelsey.

“Equally worrying is the revelation that officials saw the extension of patent terms, which would increase medicine prices, as bargaining chips if the US agreement to negotiate FTA.”
“In the February 2010 discussion with US officials, negotiator Mark Sinclair talks about “managing” New Zealanders’ expectations from a TPPA.”

“That’s not good enough. It is time the government came clean to Kiwis that it sees no tangible gains from a deal and justify why it is continuing with negotiations that have potentially serious costs for our health system, consumer laws, ultimately for our sovereignty”, Professor Kelsey said.

* No Ordinary Deal. Unmasking the Trans-Pacific Partnership Free Trade Agreement, Jane Kelsey, ed, Bridget Williams Books, 2010.


SERCO Sharples Corporate Kupapa

'Dr Sharples joked he was looking to accommodate his family in a secure unit outside a New Zealand prison so he could feed them each for $4.50 a day'

Sharples is paying off his mortgage on the backs of his cronies making money out of the incarceration/slave labour/misery of our people. Shame on him hope he chokes on it.

As more and more Western governments use the services of Serco – the British multinational with an unhealthy hold on prisons and detention centres – it’s worth remembering the gross human rights abuses under its watch   http://antonyloewenstein.com/tag/serco/


Maori Affairs and Associate Corrections minister Pita Sharples is counting on outsourcer Serco and its Maori partner to change the way prisons operate.

The British company, which runs a number of private prisons in Australia, has been picked to run the Auckland Central... Remand Prison at Mount Eden.

Dr Sharples says the prison system's focus on punishment and incarceration has created structural baggage, and left room for innovation.

“The whole idea of rehabilitating these people to put them out as productive members of society is not yet captured, and that’s what I want to see, and I’m hoping that Serco and I believe it’s Tainui they’re involved will do a good job and introduce meaningful programmes into the prison. That would be really great,” he says.

Dr Sharples wants to see more drug rehabilitation, Maori focused units, and other targeted programmes for prisoners

Serco Morgan Corporate Kupapa
‎'The concept appalled me then and still does. First grow the raw material, then put it in a can and look after it, I said. It was investing money in the belief that there was an endless supply of losers out there waiting to be processed. I...t was a depressing vision of the future, one with half the tribe and their mates in prison while the other half was being paid by the state to run it. Indeed the prosperity of the tribe would depend on a continuing - and hopefully expanding - supply of the raw material'. Of all the places Maori could invest their Treaty settlement and other money, this would have to be the most inappropriate. Ethical investment it is not.'


TPPA Audio: Jane Kelsey, Sanya Smith, Mike Smith & A Campbell

Audio + Images: Jane Kelsey, Sanya Reid Smith, Mike Smith & Andrew Campbell
Talk about the Trans Pacific Partnership negotiations, Public Meeting - St Matthew's In The City, Auckland, 7 December 2010

Audio and Images from Simon Maude
On Tuesday night December 7 the public were invited to Auckland church St Matthew's in the City, to hear Prominent law professor Jane Kelsey, of Auckland University and others explain their opposition to secret trade rules negotiations underway at Sky City Auckland that week. Professor Kelsey, author of a new book on free trade "No Ordinary Deal", kicked-off the speeches. She detailed why we should all be worried about New Zealand’s laws being superseded by a ‘rules-based’ system negotiated amid secrecy. Mike Smith, activist and self-styled 'concerned citizen' spoke next suggesting NZ society needs a paradigm shift in its attitude to commerce. Then Sanya Reid Smith, a Swiss-based lawyer, gave the audience some concrete examples of how rule changes could affect our quality of life. The speeches were wrapped-up by Andrew Campbell, FINSEC’s TPP campaign director. Campbell said National and Labour party politicians need pressure from voters to push for transparent negotiations.


Click for big version
Professor Jane Kelsey

  • Scoop Audio (35 Minutes): Audio of Professor Jane Kelsey's opening speech to a public meeting about the Trans Pacific Partnership negotiations held in Auckland at St Matthew's in the City on Tuesday 7 December 2010.

Press Play To Start Audio Playing….


Click for big version

Sanya Reid Smith (Third World Network)

  • Scoop Audio (13 Minutes): Audio of Sanya Reid Smith's (Third World Network) speech to a public meeting about the Trans Pacific Partnership negotiations held in Auckland at St Matthew's in the City on Tuesday 7 December 2010

Press Play To Start Audio Playing….



Click for big version

Mike Smith

  • Scoop Audio (13 Minutes): Audio of Mike Smith's speech to a public meeting about the Trans Pacific Partnership negotiations held in Auckland at St Matthew's in the City on Tuesday 7 December 2010.

Press Play To Start Audio Playing….


Click for big version

Andrew Campbell (Finsec)

  • Scoop Audio (15 Minutes): Audio of Andrew Campbell's (Finsec) speech to a public meeting about the Trans Pacific Partnership negotiations held in Auckland at St Matthew's in the City on Tuesday 7 December 2010.

Press Play To Start Audio Playing….

Wairoa will not ban gang regalia in the township

So nice to see a community stand against the redneck trend. 'Gang' members are whanau & part of our communities.

Because of some individuals actions it was felt that everyone was going to be tarnished with the same brush but there are actually gang members in our community who live very productive lives. They have children who are thriving and showing leadership in this community, so it didn’t seem the right answer for us as Wairoa,” Ms Cairns says.


10 December 2010 

Chief High Court Judge Helen Winkelmann (pictured) ordered yesterday that the "Urewera State Raids" prosecution (R v Bailey) against 15 accused will be by judge alone trial.  The landmark ruling  was 

sought on application by the Crown and had been opposed by the accused. 
The remaining three of the eighteen listed defendants were ordered separate trials. 
Winkelmann J ordered the public not be told about her order.  In the past Winkelmann has stated the reason for such secrecy was to ensure the jury pool is not prejudiced by pre-trial information.  Her latest order prohibiting a jury states the potential length of the trial, or that jurors would use "improper reasoning processes" , each provide a sufficient ground for denial of jury trial in her mind.

In responding to the defendants' assertion the Bill of Rights Act 1990 ensures the right to elect trial by jury when facing more than 3 months prison, Her Honour stated the Supreme Court declared last year in Wenzel v R that barring a jury trial did not violate the Bill of Rights Act.  The Supreme Court reasoning in Wenzel v R was that judges are as fair as juries, even though the Bill of Rights guarantee to jury trial is not founded on contrary reasoning.
The R v Bailey accused were originally charged under the Terrorist Suppression Act.  After widespread public protests, Solicitor General David Collins dropped the terrorism charges in October 2007.  Most are now charged with arms violations: some with organised crime activity.

Justice Winkelmann was the Judge who earlier concurred with Police that their Court affidavit used to obtain the nationwide search warrants in the massive arrests be suppressed, then revoked bail on Crown application after Auckland District Court Judge Josephine Bouchier granted bail for some of the accused in 2007.  In 2009, Justice Winkelmann struck out several of those search warrants as unlawful.  Last month, the Court of Appeal reinstated them after the Crown appealed.

Winkelmann's ruling yesterday means the eighteen originally charged wrongly by the Crown as terrorists will now have their guilt or innocence determined by a Crown judge, as the Crown is being forced to justify its actions in the raids to the Unitited Nations.

The arrests were the culmination of a 13 month and multi-million dollar covert police investigation in 2007 which made news headlines around the world.


Alternative welfare report “superior”

09 Dec 2010

Alternative welfare report “superior”

A group of Maori women urge government to adopt the recommendations outlined in the alternative welfare report launched today.

Te Wharepora Hou, a mainly Auckland based group, agrees with the findings of the report “Welfare Justice for All”.  The report, released today by the Alternative Welfare Working Group, concludes that “there is no immediate crisis in New Zealand’s social welfare system”.
Te Wharepora Hou says that Maori women and children will be disproportionately affected if Government instead adopts those recommendations proposed by the official Government appointed Welfare Working Group. Te Wharepora Hou urges the Government to abandon its policies of benign neglect.

Te Wharepora Hou maintains that the Government group continues to stigmatise and punish beneficiaries.  Spokesperson Marama Davidson says “Successive government policies have failed to address and have contributed to growing inequalities. The Welfare Working Group report is an abdication of State responsibility that places the blame on beneficiaries who are living the consequences of wider societal problems.”

 Te Wharepora Hou asks Social Development Minister Paula Bennett to explain how the adoption of the Government group recommendations will enhance the care and protection of the vulnerable when its core aim is to further reduce the safety net of the welfare system?

Te Wharepora Hou urges the Government to instead work with the informed analysis of the Alternative Welfare Working Group report.  It urges the Government to outline its job creation policies and commitment to reducing inequalities, especially for Maori women, before the next election.

CONTACT: Marama Davidson

 PHONE: [021 025 88302]


FWRM highlights gender importance on the Pacific HRIA Scoping Study for PACER-Plus

The Fiji Women’s Rights Movement (FWRM) supports the findings of the Scoping Study undertaken into the potential for using a Pacific Human Rights Impact Assessment (HRIA) tool in the context of PACER Plus.

“We support the idea of a HRIA and welcome the Scoping Study’s findings to the PACER Plus, especially the recommendation that gender be central to any analysis,” said Fiji Women’s Rights Movement Executive Director Virisila Buadromo.

Gender analysis provides an understanding of the differences and magnitude of differences in women and men’s lived experiences and is therefore fundamental to measuring and forecasting the realisation of clearly defined rights.

According to Buadromo, trade policy impacts women and men in very different ways because they are differently integrated into formal and informal economies, social and political life.

FWRM shares similar sentiments with the Republic of Marshall Island’s Amatlain Kabua who recently said that although the Marshall Islands is still some way from striking any free trade deals, when it does, human rights will need to be protected.

Women and men also have different needs for, and ability to access public services such as health and education, which may also be impacted by changes in trade policy. Understanding these differences is important for targeted, effective and efficient policy making. Thus gender analysis is key to understanding trade policy impacts, including the right to health. In the Pacific, gender inequality is a key barrier to development that is recognised in the Pacific Plan, national-level development plans, donor analysis and in government commitments to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women and the Millennium Development Goals.

FWRM believes that the HRIA is an important mechanism to inform and shape the trade negotiation process of PACER-Plus, especially as it takes human rights based approach to the negotiation process.

Taking this approach to trade negotiation supports trade and economic policy being in line with all other government objectives, rather than trade policies being put into place at the expense of development objectives.

A HRIA on PACER Plus that focuses on health also necessarily highlights violence against women, which is not only a key development and health issue, but also the number one issue facing women in the Pacific.

The Scoping Study was conducted by the International Women’s Development Agency and La Trobe University. It was presented in Suva recently with initial presentations done in Sydney and Melbourne.


For more information contact Shazia Usman at shazia@fwrm.org.fj


TPPA No Good for Maori

Press Release Te Wharepora Hou
 Te Wharepora Hou, a group of Maori women based in Auckland, supports civil society groups from Australia and New Zealand that are opposing the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA).

Similar free trade agreements have had a devastating impact on the rights & lives of Indigenous peoples around the world.  Indigenous peoples have been criminalised  and rights to their lands and resource have been ignored.

The Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) is colonisation by corporation.  Maori and Pacific Island communities have already borne the  brunt of  neo-liberal economic restructuring  in the 80’s and 1990’s.

The TPPA will intensify and increase these negative economic impacts In our communities and as a result are hugely over-represented in all negative indices. The Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA)  is part of the neo liberal structural adjustment programme to diminish and extinguish Indigenous rights forever.

The TPP represents a significant and; disruptive challenge to Maori.

 As wahine Maori, our long and deeply-held traditional values and understandings of collectivity, of manakitanga , of kaitiakitanga (Caring for Earth Mother), for Tangaroa (god of the sea) and for their children, is in direct opposition to what is being proposed in the TPPA. The New Zealand government does no have the right to negotiate away our Treaty rights and  our rights as Indigenous peoples. 
The selling off of our mokopuna and their future must stop.

You can download a fact sheet “Maori, Treaty and the TPPA” here:


What’s a TPPA?

Another of those international treaties that would give massive amounts of power to big foreign companies and allow them to enforce their rights against the government – what Maori have been struggling to secure for over 160 years!

Why is this one special?

First, it’s huge. Eight countries are involved. The most important, the US, acts for the benefit of its mega-firms. It will try to dictate what is discussed and what is agreed. The others countries are Australia, Chile, Singapore, Peru, Brunei, Malaysia, Vietnam and NZ.
  Second, the TPPA is like an octopus whose tentacles will reach into every aspect of life – land, culture, broadcasting, medicines, water, mining, jobs, finance, prisons, …

What kind of treaty is it?

The formal name is the Trans-Pacific Partnership and they call it a free trade treaty. But it’s really a treaty that guarantees foreign investors extensive rights and restricts the kinds of policies and laws that governments can have in the future.

It sounds like the MAI that we fought off years ago!

It is – but bigger and worse.

Are there particular issues for indigenous peoples?

Indigenous communities in Chile and Peru have already been dispossessed and criminalised as a result of their existing free trade agreements with the US.

In northern Chile, Diaguita communities have resisted the FTA-related expansion of mining operations that are located on their traditional lands, take ancestral waters and threaten the environment. Further South, the Mapuche have faced expansion of pine forestry, hydro dams, fishing and salmon farms along the rivers and foreshores, without proper consultation or participation in benefits. Their protests have been criminalised by the Chilean state using police brutality involving torture, and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment affecting community members. The state has prosecuted hundreds of Mapuche activists, accusing them of ordinary or terrorist offences listed in the Anti-terrorist Law; 50 are in prison charged with terrorist crimes.

In Peru, the government issued a mass of laws that threatened indigenous peoples’ lands and resources as part of implementing the US–Peru FTA. The laws aimed to break up indigenous communities so foreign investors could set up huge private estates on Amazonian forest lands and produce biofuels. In 2008 the Amazonian indigenous peoples in the Interethnic Association of the Peruvian Amazon (AIDESEP) mobilised against these decrees. Some were overturned, but there were new protests when the government broke its promises about overturning others. After several days of road blockade, the government ordered the police to clear the roads. Clashes ended with 34 identified deaths, including 24 police officers and 10 people from the indigenous communities; a hundred civilians were injured by firearms.
(see José Aylwin, ‘The TPPA and Indigenous Peoples: Lessons from Latin America’ in Jane Kelsey ed. No Ordinary Deal: Unmasking the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement, Bridget Williams Books)

Are there specific impacts for Aotearoa?

Lots – some examples are …
Water companies run privatised water all around the world, often with disastrous impacts on local communities. Rodney Hide is pushing a new law through Parliament that will let these mega-water corporations run the water supply of cities and towns throughout Aotearoa for 30+ years. We saw the human cost of privatised electricity in 2009 when the Muliana family couldn’t pay the bill and Mrs Muliana’s oxygen machine was cut off. Tragedies like that happen with failed water privatisations all over the world, forcing governments to cancel the private contracts and take back control. Under a TPPA foreign water companies are likely to get powers to sue the government for multi-millions in compensation in a secret international court if it did that. Bolivia and Argentina have faced crippling cases that drag on for years.

Another example affected the foreign companies that are getting licenses for exploration and mining on Maori land or land subject to claims that aren’t yet settled. Often the hapu aren’t being fully consulted before licenses are issued and have no real say. The government hasn’t developed proper rules yet about what these companies can and can’t do or ways to hold them accountable for disasters. Under a TPPA the government’s hands could be tied - it could be stopped from limiting or banning certain mining operations or from introducing new restrictions that undermine the profitability of a mining company from one of the TPPA countries. Because the law is complicated, it is easy for the companies to tie governments up in knots with threats of long, costly law suits in secret foreign courts.

A TPPA could make it hard, even impossible to require plain package cigarettes and make tobacco companies contribute to the health costs of smoking related diseases.

Compulsory quotas for Maori - or even New Zealand – music are already prohibited cos they breach the rules of ‘trade’ treaties. A TPPA would mean more limits in favour of Hollywood.

Stricter intellectual property laws could threaten control over taonga that the WAI 262 claim is trying to protect and stop the government introducing new safeguards.

Medicines will become more expensive if the big US drug companies have their way, so only rich people with health insurance can afford the medicines they need.

Isn’t there some special exception for the Treaty of Waitangi in NZ’s FTAs?

That doesn’t guarantee Maori any rights. It says the government may take action if it believes is required to implement the Treaty. Other parties to the agreement can still challenge aspects of the government’s action.

How do we find out what’s happening with these negotiations?

The 4th round of negotiations started in Auckland on 6 December 2010. We don’t get to know what’s on the table because the negotiations are secret. If the government thinks it’s so good for us it should stop hiding behind closed doors and let us know what trade-offs they’re proposing in our name and justify them – before the negotiations go any further.

Who is consulted about these negotiations?

The only people who really matter and have the inside story are big business. Presumably that includes Maori entrepreneurs involved in forestry, energy, fishing, property development, exploration, private prisons, private water schemes … .

What’s the Maori Party’s position on the TPPA?

Hone has said he opposes it.  The Party itself hasn’t shown its hand. In recent times they have been split in voting on FTAs –  for example, on the NZ-Malaysia FTA Pita, Tariana and Te Ururoa voted for and Hone and Rahui voted against. Time to get off the fence …

For more information see www.tppwatch.org


TPP: Open Letter to the Prime Ministers of Australia and NZ

3 December 2010

Rt Hon Julia Gillard, Prime Minister of Australia
Rt Hon John Key, Prime Minister of New Zealand

Open Letter to the Prime Ministers of Australia and New Zealand
Dear Prime Ministers

The proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) has been branded a “free trade agreement” by its corporate and government proponents. In reality, the main function of the agreement would be to establish an array of new investor rights and privileges that could undermine vast swathes of important non-trade laws, policies and practices in the nine countries currently involved. These constraints would bind our governments into the indefinite future.

Perversely, the TPPA proposal is being sold as a new agreement for the 21st century. In fact, the US is effectively setting the terms for negotiations, based on a standard template that replicates the US North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) model.

We know from the experience in the US, Canada and Mexico that the NAFTA model eliminates the crucial policy space that our governments need to address the employment, climate, financial and energy crises that will dominate the next century. It not only establishes vast new investor rights to acquire land, natural resources, financial and other firms and operate them under deregulated terms - it also elevates private investors to equal status as sovereign government signatories to the agreement. Under the US Free Trade Agreement (FTA) model, foreign investors and corporations are empowered to privately enforce their new “trade” pact privileges by suing signatory governments in foreign World Bank and UN tribunals, seeking monetary compensation for government actions they consider to undermine their expected future profits.

If a TPPA follows that old investor-rights model, decisions on development of our economies, management of our natural resources and land, our access to medicines, cultural content, banking regulation, environment and labour laws, food labelling, tobacco control policies, and much more will be circumscribed from outside the country, with the threat of challenge by foreign firms in private international courts chilling critical innovations and potentially threatening some existing policies.
Trade agreements should focus on real trade. They should not provide a means for corporations to achieve policies and laws through a back door that bypasses the democratic processes of domestic parliaments.

Moreover, investment rules in an agreement for the 21st century should address the damaging by-products of the old model - climate change, food scarcity, financial instability, an employment crisis, natural resource exhaustion, indigenous dispossession and rampant inequality – and make the corporations and investors that are responsible for these crises accountable and liable.
In addition to establishing corporate and investor responsibilities, any future investment agreement must exclude the substantive rules and enforcement mechanism of past investor-rights agreements that make them unacceptable. These include:

Investor-state enforcement privileges that elevate individual investors and firms to equal status with our sovereign governments, empowering them to enforce a public treaty’s commercial provisions privately by demanding cash compensation from country’s taxpayers for government regulatory actions via lawsuits before international tribunals that lack public accountability, standard judicial ethics rules, and appeals processes.

The empowerment of secretive international tribunals at the UN and World Bank that supplant domestic courts and apply international agreements to undermine the validity of domestic laws and require our countries to compensate investors and corporations with our taxpayer funds. Arbitrators in those tribunals are not subject to any effective conflict of interest rules and crucial documents and proceedings are closed to the public and press.

Entitlement to prior consultation on proposed policies and regulations that guarantee foreign investors more input into domestic decisions than the country’s own citizens.

Vaguely worded provisions guaranteeing foreign investors a “minimum standard of treatment”, including “fair and equitable treatment,” that extend beyond guarantees of due process and confer preferential treatment on foreign firms relative to their domestic counterparts.

Corporate rights to compensation for regulatory costs in the guise of protection against “indirect” expropriation by regulations and other government actions that reduce the value of a foreign investment. The threat of massive damages awards can have a “chilling effect” on policymaking, with important policies being reversed or never being implemented. It is misleading to suggest that annexes and tweaks added to recent FTAs provide effective protection from these threats.

Far-reaching definitions of “investment” that must be provided with new protections and privileges under an FTA extend far beyond real property rights and other specific interests in property to include speculative financial instruments, natural resource concessions, procurement contracts and intellectual property rights, over which governments must retain effective regulatory authority.

Pre-establishment rights for investors that remove the host government’s right to review foreign investment proposals to ensure that they meet the public interest.

Constraints on capital controls and other financial regulatory tools that can minimise hot money flows and excessive concentration of financial investors, restrict the sale of risky financial products and services, and open prudential measures to investor and state challenge. Again, the misleadingly termed “prudential carve-out” does not provide effective protection for these measures.

The subsidiary loophole that allows corporations to bypass their domestic courts by using “trade” pacts and their foreign subsidiaries located in a FTA or Bilateral Investment Treaty partner nation to attack their domestic laws from outside the country.

We note that the US-Australia FTA does not contain the outrageous provision on investor-state disputes, and the Australian government remains opposed to its inclusion in any TPPA. We applaud that position as an important first step, and urge the government to adopt a similarly forward thinking position in relation to the other matters we have raised.

We also note that the New Zealand Prime Minister has described the inclusion of such powers in a TPPA as “far-fetched” and expects that New Zealand would support Australia’s position. Minister of Trade Tim Groser subsequently stated in Parliament that the government would carefully safeguard the sovereignty of New Zealand to entertain good public policy in accordance with the principles of open government. It is clear that the only way to achieve that outcome is not just to reject investor-state disputes procedures, but also to pursue an investment agreement that is premised on the principles outlined above.

Across the political spectrum in our countries, opposition is building to investor-rights agreements that threaten to lock us into policies and approaches that have proved a failure.
Our governments must re-think the dangerously outdated NAFTA-style approach to investment and genuinely engage with their citizens to develop a new model investment agreement that is genuinely fit for the 21st century.


Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU)
New Zealand Council of Trade Unions (NZCTU)
Australian Catholic Social Justice Council (ACSJ)
Friends of the Earth, Australia (FOE)
Public Health Association of Australia (PHAA)
Public Health Association of New Zealand (PHA)
Australian Fair Trade and Investment Network (AFTINET)
Music Council of Australia (MCA)
Australian Education Union (AEU)
Australian Manufacturing Workers Union (AMWU)
Australian Nursing Federation (ANF)
Australian Writers Guild (AWG)
Australian Services Union (ASU)
Community and Public Sector Union - State Public Services Federation (CPSU - SPSF)
Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU)
Finance Sector Union (FSU)
Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance (MEAA)
Finsec Union of New Zealand
Maritime Union of New Zealand (MUNZ)
National Distribution Union of New Zealand (NDU)
New Zealand Tertiary Education Union (TEU)
New Zealand Society of Authors
Campaign Against Foreign Control of Aotearoa (CAFCA)
New Zealand Not for Sale
Catholics in Coalition for Peace and Justice (CCJP)
President-elect, Methodist Church of New Zealand John Roberts
Economic Reform Australia (ERA)
Edmund Rice Centre for Justice and Community Education
Franciscan Missionaries of Mary (F.M.M)
Nature Conservation Council New South Wales (NCCNSW)
Pacific Institute of Resource Management, NZ (PIRM)
Our Water Our Vote, New Zealand
Pacific Calling Partnership
Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC)
SEARCH Foundation
The Grail
The Alliance to Expose GATS
West Australian Regional Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends
WTO Watch Qld
Global Peace and Justice Auckland (GPJA)
Workers Institute for Scientific Socialist Education (WISSE)