Edward Millar - lawyer, speaks of the effects of the global economy on New Zealand's sovereignty

Interviewed by

Lisa Er

Edward Millar - lawyer, speaks of the effects of the global economy on New Zealand's sovereignty

At the heart of the attack on our sovereignty is the TPPA (Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement). It is described as a 21st century agreement that will reach further behind the border than any previous free trade or investment agreement.

Parliament will have no effective say over these new rules unless they require changes to New Zealand’s domestic law.

There are around 29 chapters in the agreement, very few of which involve old-fashioned trade. Numbered at about 4. Most of them aim to curb the process and content of government’s domestic policy and regulatory decisions.

In practice, the TPPA would give foreign governments and well-resourced foreign companies the right to influence our domestic decisions, and marginalise our own national priorities, advocates and agencies, including Parliament and our courts. Therefore the TPPA is a potent threat to national sovereignty over decision-making processes and institutions, and to open and accountable government. We can only hope that this government, and the next one, will resist the corporate overture and protect the democratic rights of the populace.

Interviewed by Lisa Er, Edward gives us a little of the background to the TPPA which began with an agreement between Brunei, Malaysia, Singapore and New Zealand. It was planned to be a gold standard agreement, with Labour’s Phil Goff negotiating for New Zealand. The US then became interested and now there are 12 countries negotiating the TPPA.

Edward Miller is strategic adviser at FIRST Union, organiser and spokesperson for It's Our Future NZ (the campaign against the TPPA) and is a founding member of the Aotearoa Human Rights Lawyers Association. He has recently completed a Masters thesis on food speculation, and is interested in food, trade, development, finance, and labour and environmental issues. His choice to become a lawyer grew out of his interest in activism.

Edward is concerned about the financialisation of our food. The world can actually feed 13 billion people, but because of financial speculators manipulating and inflating prices the distribution of food is limited to those with enough money to purchase. Agribusiness farming and practices, and scientific manipulation of our food is also a part of this growing corporate food rort.

Edward speaks about the supermarket duopoly in New Zealand that was recently highlighted, quite correctly, by Labour minister Shane Jones. Consumers and suppliers alike are subjected to the effects of pricing particularly by Countdown in their bid to be competitive and gain profit for their Australian owners.

The FIRST union, where Edward is a policy analyst and researcher, grew out of a merger of two unions, in 2011. FIRST is an acronym for Finance, Industry, Retail, Stores, and Transport. Edward explains the result of the deregulation of the forestry industry, the low union representation, and the resulting deaths. In the union they refer to those deaths as a Pike River every five years! Industry, which includes forestry, textiles, clothing and baking are the types of businesses that employ a lot of people, and that is declining, because of the global economy. Retail, tending to sell a lot of imported products or products made from overseas components, is on the increase.

Bearing in mind that most workers earn between $13.75 and $20 an hour Edward also highlights the new money lending business Payday Lenders that targets the small borrower. It appears to lend money at interest rates of a minimum of 300%. This is clearly unacceptable and should be regulated by government.

In fact the government’s ability to legislate will be seriously limited by the TPPA and so, rather obviously, globalisation is only serving corporate interest and the rich few, and is leaving the rest of the world behind, as the general population become poorer and poorer.

As George Sorus, business magnate, investor, and philanthropist observed, Perhaps the greatest threat to freedom and democracy in the world today comes from the formation of unholy alliances between government and business.

"This is not a new phenomenon. It used to be called fascism: the outward appearances of the democratic process are observed, but the powers of the state are diverted to the benefit of private interests.

This programme is sponsored by www.theawarenessparty.com

There are NO WAY TPPA rallies throughout New Zealand at 1pm this Saturday, March 29th. To find the closest rally to you, go to www.itsourfuture.org.nz

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Lisa Er

Lisa Er

Born in the UK Lisa emigrated with her parents to New Zealand at the age of 16. Already politically active Lisa has continued to have a passionate interest in peace, politics, and the philosophy behind what we do.

A primary school teacher for 14 years, Lisa then turned her hand to business and created the well known Lisa's Hummus, which she sold a few years ago. Now Lisa is immersed in creating a better political system via www.theawarenessparty.com