Government must be more transparent on investor state clauses

The Government must be more transparent around the draft investor state dispute settlements in the TPPA, says David Parker, Labour’s Export Growth and Trade spokesperson.
“Labour is pro trade, and is proud of the FTA we negotiated with China, which includes well drafted ISDS provisions. We also support the FTA with South Korea.
“Some investor state dispute settlement provisions have enabled inappropriate claims by multi-national corporate investors for alleged losses suffered as a consequence of quite proper government decisions. We believe these sorts of ISDS provisions are inappropriate and should be avoided.
“The Labour Party will support the first reading of the NZ First member’s bill concerning investor state dispute settlement provisions (ISDS provisions) in Trade and Investment Agreements so New Zealanders can have a debate around these provisions.
“National should not be scared of that debate, especially given the low level of transparency around the TPP negotiations under National is fuelling suspicion amongst concerned New Zealanders.
“The arguments for and against such clauses include:
ISDS provisions can help protect New Zealand companies against unjust treatment in overseas countries where governments do not treat investors or exporters fairly, especially where Courts are not free from corruption nor impartial and separate from government.
However other forms of these clauses undermine the sovereignty of governments, including our own, to regulate for public purposes including:
Environmental standards for clean water or air, or climate change, and protection of public property rights – like terms for use of public water and access to rivers and lakes.
Public health measures such as what health treatments should or shouldn’t be able to patented, and controls on smoking.
Whether a country can control the overseas purchase of our farmland or housing if that affects values.
The adjudication panels are made up of trade lawyers who, while they may be independent of the countries concerned, may not be impartial because their private interests as trade lawyers can mean they are or appear conflicted.
Overseas investors may gain more rights than locals.
“In recent months, following a report by the European Union Ombudsman, the European Commission has promised more transparency in connection with the Transatlantic Trade & Investment Partnership (TTIP), the European equivalent to the TPP.  New Zealand should follow that lead,” says David Parker.
7 March 2015                                                           MEDIA STATEMENT

Failure to diversify puts prosperity at risk

Beyond the news that a long-promised surplus is unlikely, further embarrassment is hidden in the fine print of the half year economic and fiscal update, Labour says.

“National’s failure to rebalance the economy is further exposed in projections from its own forecasters, with Treasury announcing the Government is expected to drive New Zealand backwards on exports as a percentage of the overall economy,” Labour’s Economic Development spokesperson David Clark says.

“The Government’s own target aims to shift exports as a proportion of the economy from 30 percent to 40 percent by 2025. Latest forecasts say exports are moving in the opposite direction.

“Far from sprinting to the finish, the Government appears to have thrown the economy into reverse, and is backing away from the starting line.

“Steven Joyce talks a big game but once again has egg on his face. The Reserve Bank consistently warns about New Zealand’s fortunes being over-reliant on the primary sector, China, foreign capital and a housing bubble.”

Export Growth and Trade spokesperson David Parker said Government policies favouring speculation and consumption are causing underinvestment in export industries, which puts the prosperity of New Zealanders at risk.

“The failure to diversify means we will all continue to pay a premium to access capital, whether for basic housing or for business expansion.

“By 2017, after nine years of a National Government, exports will still be under 30 per cent of GDP. Meanwhile New Zealand’s external deficit will grow larger and that deficit will be plugged by selling more houses and businesses to overseas buyers.

“Steven Joyce and Bill English have delivered a Christmas present no one wants,” David Parker says.

17 December  2014                                                      MEDIA STATEMENT

Exports drop puts more pressure on surplus

A 5 per cent fall in exports shows National’s reputation for economic management is taking a hit and even puts its golden surplus target at risk, say Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson and Exports Growth spokesperson David Parker.
“Bill English’s promise to rebalance the economy and boost the export sector is turning into a pipedream. The trend for exports has been falling since January, showing this is a long term trend,” says Grant Robertson.

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Reserve Bank’s dairy warning must be heard

The Reserve Bank’s warning that falling dairy prices are creating greater risks for the New Zealand economy must be taken seriously by Bill English and John Key, says Labour’s Finance spokesperson David Parker.
“Dairy prices have nearly halved since February and the Reserve Bank today said a low dairy pay out could increase the number of loan defaults in coming years.
“The risk of another housing market surge and our reliance on the Chinese market are other causes for concern from Graeme Wheeler.
“These risks show an increasingly unbalanced economy based on milk powder and house sales. 
“New Zealanders will never achieve the standard of living they deserve unless we refocus our economy towards value-added exports.
12 November 2014                                         Media Statement

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Govt books getting worse as economy slows

National’s economic credibility is under serious scrutiny with its search for surplus becoming harder due to an economy far too reliant on the dairy industry, says Labour’s Finance spokesperson David Parker.
“National promised New Zealanders would get into surplus by improving the economy. It has been six years in government and more than three years since the financial crisis ended and they still haven’t run a surplus.
“National is running out of excuses.
“The drop in GST and the warning of a fall in total tax take shows what happens when the economy is unbalanced – typical New Zealanders can’t get ahead. At the same time the huge salary increases of the power companies’ chief executives – arrogantly defended by the Government – are completely out of whack with the meagre pay rises of most Kiwis.

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Journalists have right to protect sources

Legal authorities must respect the right of journalist Nicky Hager to protect the source of his material for his Dirty Politics book under Section 68 of the Evidence Act, Acting Labour Leader David Parker says.

“It is crucial in an open democracy that journalists are not forced to reveal their sources so whistle-blowers feel able to come forward with information.

“While we respect the Police’s independence, we are concerned that an arm of the state appears to be being used against Mr Hager while nothing appears to be being done about the wrongdoing he exposed.

“A 10-hour search of their family home would be harrowing for anyone. Nicky Hager was doing what the fourth estate ought to do and Police need to take care to protect his rights, and to avoid the appearance of intimidating the media.
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