It's Our Future Kiwi Voices on the TPPA Tue, 29 Jul 2014 07:04:02 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Harré: It’s Game on in Helensville Mon, 28 Jul 2014 18:27:47 +0000 Press Release – Internet Party

Harr: Its Game on in Helensville Internet Party Leader Laila Harr will stand in John Keys Helensville electorate because the Prime Minister has some explaining to do. Ms Harr wants to debate Mr Key at candidate meetings in his own electorate …Harré: It’s Game on in Helensville

Internet Party Leader Laila Harré will stand in John Key’s Helensville electorate because “the Prime Minister has some explaining to do”.

Ms Harré wants to debate Mr Key at candidate meetings in his own electorate – away from his army of spin doctors.

“What happened to the jobs he promised? As many jobs have been destroyed on his watch as have been created. There is no plan from Mr Key. We rely heavily on other countries for skilled people while expecting large numbers of our young to learn on empty stomachs.

“Even with record commodity prices unemployment has been rising. Deep sea oil drilling off the coast of Helensville is not the solution.”

The Internet Party leader says the right to work, for every New Zealander, is one of her top priorities.

“I want to wake New Zealanders up from the anaesthetic trance that John Key has induced with his soothing words. We have been talking about a knowledge-based economy since New Zealand’s traditional industries stopped producing enough jobs for the growing workforce 30 years ago.

“Mr Key’s only memorable mention of technology has been that he believes most people have a smart phone – to access benefits and other government services. That’s it, when the Internet economy could create thousands of new jobs.

“The Prime Minister is holding the rest of New Zealand back with his ignorance of the digital age.”

Ms Harré will outline the Internet Party’s campaign for free tertiary education.

“I’ll also be asking him to explain his Government’s relationship with Hollywood and Skycity. I’ll be asking him to tell us what’s in the TPPA he is negotiating behind closed doors and to open the books on our intelligence relationships.”


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Guy: Speech to Red Meat Sector conference Mon, 28 Jul 2014 17:13:22 +0000 Speech – New Zealand Government

Following some challenging years, there are strong indications of improved results for many companies in the sector this year.Nathan Guy

28 JULY, 2014

Speech to Red Meat Sector conference

Good evening and thank you for the opportunity to address you all tonight.

Following some challenging years, there are strong indications of improved results for many companies in the sector this year.

This resilience is a reflection of the hard work of people throughout the red meat sector.

The meat and wool sectors make up 21 percent of total primary sector export revenue at an estimated export value of $8 billion for the year ending 30 June 2014, which is a record.

The recovery of dry stock numbers after last year’s drought and the productivity improvements need to be acknowledged.

In the face of forecast decreases in stock numbers these capabilities will be important assets for the future.

Export revenue from the meat and wool sectors is estimated to increase by about 22 percent over five years to $9.4 billion by 2018.

However, sheep numbers and beef cattle numbers fell 47% and 19% respectively from 1990 to 2013.

While productivity gains and an increase in dairy beef have helped offset these declines, the forecast is for stable beef production and slight increases in lamb production.

The good news is overseas prices for New Zealand manufacturing beef are currently 28 percent higher than 12 months ago and farm gate prices for lamb are currently 13 percent higher than a year ago.

Export growth is expected to mainly stem from higher prices for product rather than increased production.

While higher prices from a globally constrained supply of beef and lamb and steadily growing demand in Asia are forecast to keep prices strong over the next few years, the sector must continue to look to increase the value of its product.

The OECD has forecast that demand for sheepmeat will be driven by the growth of the middle class in China and the Middle East in particular.

The Government is committed to supporting the sector make the most of these export opportunities.

Trade with China

Our Free Trade Agreement with China and our current trade agenda puts New Zealand’s red meat sector in a strong position to take advantage of these opportunities.

The recent progress in getting 13 meat premises added to the list of premises approved for export to China is worth millions of dollars to the industry.

New Zealand is extremely well placed compared to the rest of the world when it comes to access for our primary products into China.

The trade issues that arose last year highlighted that MPI’s existing overseas capability needed to increase.

We are now taking a whole of Government approach to achieve an increased presence there.

MPI in particular have increased their representation by three from mid-2013, and there are another three planned from this year.

I want to take this opportunity to acknowledge the hard work of our team in Beijing and Shanghai – who I know work tirelessly on your behalf.

The New Zealand presence in China will be bolstered by the new NZ Embassy in Beijing. This is a $40 million project, being built on the site of the existing Embassy.

Although we are taking an all of Government approach to China, we can’t do it alone. It is essential that NZ businesses with a strong interest in the China market think carefully and strategically about their own business plans in this important market.

The recent Meat Industry Association-led delegation to China highlighted the determination of processors in the sector to work together, and strengthen overall relationships here and overseas.

MPI is prioritising the further work required with their counter-parts in China to review the meat access protocols to provide for access of New Zealand chilled meat, unprocessed casings (‘green runners’), and further processed meat products.

I understand the authorities in China have indicated a willingness to engage in these discussions, and that MPI, MFAT and MIA recently met to discuss the approach to be taken to progressing them.

We are currently negotiating on the Trans Pacific Partnership – this includes 11 countries that make up over 40 percent of our trade.

Labour refuses to express their support for the TPP which is terrible news for exporters.

Trade agenda

New Zealand’s current trade agenda is particularly busy, with progress being made across a number of negotiations. Negotiations with Korea have been very intensive in 2014.

Currently our beef exports to Korea face tariffs of up to 40% and our sheepmeat is subject to tariffs of 22.5%.

Although some market access discussions remain challenging, good progress has been made in many areas of the talks. Efforts are now focused on concluding the negotiations.

I am aware that Indonesian import regulations are hampering your access to that important market.

The New Zealand Government is continuing to focus efforts on seeking a positive resolution to this issue and is currently engaging with Indonesia via the World Trade Organisation dispute process.

Red meat structure

While discussion appears to have decreased in the face of forecasted increased returns for processors and farmers, there remains a determination to ensure the sector is operating to its full potential.

The continued sharing of ideas among sector participants, including through the election of Meat Industry Excellence representatives to the Boards of the major cooperatives, can only enhance understanding of the sector’s complexity.

I encourage you to continue to engage and discuss any improvements of how the sector operates.

As I have said previously, if a plan for change with broad and strong industry buy-in is developed, I will do whatever I can to ensure the Government supports the industry.

I notice that Labour has come out with a policy for the meat sector which says that a Labour Government will dictate the direction of meat reforms, and that they will review PGP meat programmes.

The last thing the meat sector needs is a plan dictated by a Labour-Greens-Mana Dotcom Cabinet, with no grassroots support.


Throughout my time as Minister for Primary Industries biosecurity has been, and will remain, my number one priority.
More than any other developed country, New Zealand depends on the success of its primary industries and the biological system that underpins them.

Retaining a world-class biosecurity system is critical to our economy, environment and way of life.

New Zealand will always face threats from unwanted pests and diseases.

We need to manage risks pragmatically, and this requires targeted investment, working together, and new scientific knowledge to drive innovation and improvement throughout the biosecurity system.

This year’s Budget outlined more funding for MPI with a real focus of strengthening core systems like biosecurity and food safety.

Significant new investment and improvements have been made at the border, including upgrading our x-ray detection technology, and recruiting 125 new Quarantine Inspectors in last 18 months.

We now 40 dog handler across the country, up from 25 in the last two years.

I recently just announced a new $65m high-security biocontainment laboratory in Wallaceville.

The new facility will replace the existing lab and continue more than 100 years of animal disease diagnostics at the site.

This is a new lab supported by skilled personnel that have an essential role in responding to disease outbreaks, protecting public health and providing international trade assurances about New Zealand’s animal disease status.

Many of our trade relationships are dependent on ongoing surveillance and investigation work, such as that currently undertaken at the site on a day-to-day basis.


A big challenge and priority for all of us is selling our success story and attracting people into the industry.

The primary industries currently employ 350,000 people and account for one in six jobs. In some regions the figure is as high as one in three.

We know that by 2025 we’ll need another 50,000 new jobs. Over half of these workers will need a Tertiary or Level 4 Qualification.

Businesses are likely to be larger, more complex, use more technology and require more professional support. This means a greater need for more degree qualified people in a range of areas.

The challenge for all of us now is to promote the diversity and breadth of careers in the primary industries.

Last month I launched the Enterprising Primary Industries Career Challenge (EPIC).

This is for Year 10 students to raise awareness amongst their peers about the many and varied careers that can be found in the primary industries.

We also need to ensure that those who advise and support people making career decisions – teachers, parents, career advisors – have access to the best and most relevant information.

Primary Growth Partnership (PGP)

Innovation has long been, and will continue to be, a driver of productivity in New Zealand’s red meat sector. The Primary Growth Partnership is about growing New Zealand’s future by investing in innovation programmes.

This is a $700 Government/Industry total committed investment in Research and Development in 18 cutting edge projects.

A recent report by NZIER shows the potential prize is around $6.4 billion by 2025 – with the possibility of up to $11.1b if the aspirational stretch of some of the programmes is realised.

Broken down to the farm gate, this report estimates returns of extra income per year of $270 per hectare for hill country farming, $600 per cow for dairy, $370 per tonne of exported seafood, and $190 per hectare for forestry.

In the red meat sector, the Government and industry are investing some $326 million through Primary Growth Partnership programmes to support innovation.

The range of PGP investment in the red meat sector includes work across the value chain. This includes programmes which focus on value-add products, supporting on-farm practice, and integrating the value chain.

Examples include:

The Integrated Value Chain for Red Meat programme – led by FarmIQ – which aims to create a demand-driven, integrated value chain for New Zealand red meat.

FarmIQ has set out to ensure there is a better understanding of the factors that make a difference in the value chain in order to more consistently deliver great eating experiences and lift returns for all in the value chain.

The Red Meat Profit Partnership which involves participants across the sector, including meat processors, Beef + Lamb NZ and banks.

The programme aims to transform the transfer and adoption of farm business best-practice, providing better information and tools to support farm business decision-making.

Under the New Zealand Sheep Industry Transformation PGP Programme, the Alpine Origin Merino joint venture with New Zealand Merion has formed. This is opening up new markets for differentiating Merino meat, under the ‘SILERE alpine origin merino’ brand.

Through the Marbled Grass-fed Beef programme, Firstlight Foods Ltd is establishing direct sales of Wagyu beef to consumers in domestic and international markets.

Based on experience from domestic sales, and building on the success entering the South Californian market prior to the start of the PGP programme, they have entered the London market and are establishing entry into Dubai with the assistance of local partners.

The FoodPlus PGP programme is identifying opportunities to create new higher value products with a focus on new food, ingredients and healthcare products.

Investment in science and research

Earlier this year, Steven Joyce announced the Government is investing $15 million over five years into advances in genetics research that will improve the profitability of New Zealand’s sheep and beef sector.

A new partnership, Beef + Lamb New Zealand Genetics, will also bring together New Zealand’s existing sheep and beef genetics research by consolidating different entities.

Total funding for the new project from government and industry sources will be up to $8.8 million per year.

In just 10 years Beef + Lamb New Zealand Genetics expect that farmers will receive around $6 extra profit per lamb sold at that time.

In an interesting example of the New Zealand brand at play, the Herald recently ran an article on Hollywood actresses who use sheep placenta extract in a cream to keep maintain their youthful looks.

One Hawkes Bay company who supplies some of the placenta says that demand is growing steadily all the time.

I note that the celebrity doctor who advocates the placenta pays special acknowledgement to sourcing his placenta from New Zealand as “[we] have no impurities in their system whatsoever.”


Of course, September 20 is just around the corner.

This year’s KPMG Agribusiness Agenda said that this year’s election is the most significant in decades for the primary sector.

While the latest polls may be favourable for the National Government, the risk of getting complacent – when the alternative threatens so much of the primary sector’s livelihood – is a risk we can’t afford to take.

Labour’s primary industries includes a capital gains tax on every farm, higher income taxes, and bringing agriculture into the ETS which would hammer these industries that are the backbone of New Zealand’s economy.

Labour’s withdrawal of support for irrigation is a slap in the face for regional development, especially given we suffered through the worst drought in 70 years last year. The Crown’s role as a kick-start investor has great potential, with NZIER estimating that exports could be boosted by around $4 billion a year by 2026.

Labour and Greens have consistently opposed creating new jobs in the regions, given they are anti-mining, anti-oil and gas, anti-roads, anti-West Coast logging and now anti-irrigation.


Before I leave, I’d like to leave you with a quote adapted from Dwight Eisenhower, which I think aptly summarises the context for this year’s election.

“Farming looks bloody easy when your plough is a pencil, and you live a thousand kilometres from the paddock.”

And so I’d like to thank you for all you do – because I don’t believe that you don’t get thanked enough. Through hard toil and passion, you craft product that is exported to the finest restaurants and dinner tables around the world.

As September 20 draws nearer, and the dog-whistling heightens from some of the pencil-pushing parties of this country who all believe they can farm better than you, it’s worth remembering that this has been a Government that has backed the primary sector.

As a Government and as Minister for Primary Industries, we realise that the primary sector has helped float our economy through stormy times when others economies have sunk.

The primary sector has helped us pay for new schools, hospitals, and road. If we are fortunate enough to be re-elected, it won’t be something that we forget.

Thanks once again for the invitation to be here tonight.

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ASEAN and America: Partners for the Future Mon, 28 Jul 2014 14:08:53 +0000 Speech – US Department Of State

Remarks Daniel R. Russel Assistant Secretary, Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs Commonwealth Club San Francisco, CA As Prepared for DeliveryASEAN and America: Partners for the Future

July 28, 2014

Daniel R. Russel
Assistant Secretary, Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs

Commonwealth Club
San Francisco, CA
As Prepared for Delivery

Thank you, Phil. I’m glad to be in San Francisco, and with all of you here at the Commonwealth Club.

You’re here today because you understand the importance of Asia to America.
This is especially evident in a Pacific Coast state like California. More than 5.5 million Asian-Pacific Americans live in California, and millions more Californians do business, study, or otherwise benefit from their ties with the region. California exported nearly $70 billion in goods to the region last year, more than any other state. And Asia matters to the entire United States – to our economy, to our security, to our families.

As a Pacific power and a trading nation, we can’t afford not to be in the Asia-Pacific. That’s why President Obama decided, before he even took office, to institute a long-term, strategic emphasis on the region. And I’m confident that strategy will extend far beyond his presidency, because we have strong bipartisan support for it – both parties understand the importance of Asia.

Now, there is a lot going on in Asia today, from the dramatic rise of China and the historic reforms in Burma, to the ongoing threat from North Korea’s pursuit of nuclear weapons, to the dangerous tensions in the South China Sea.

And while I know that as a topic, “strengthening regional institutions” probably ties for last place with “corporate tax policy” in its headline-grabbing power, it’s one of the most consequential undertakings in terms of American interests. And that’s what I’d like to discuss with you today — namely, the effort to shape a rules-based order that is stable, peaceful, open and free.

First let me say that the region I am responsible for–East Asia and the Pacific–is a diverse one. Northeast Asia, Oceania–which includes Australia, New Zealand, and the Pacific island states–and then Southeast Asia, are all quite different.

Northeast Asia is home to two of our important treaty allies – Japan and the Republic of Korea. We’ve modernized defense cooperation with both countries to address the very real threat posed by North Korea. And we’ve deepened economic engagement through free trade agreements such as the one reached with South Korea.

Northeast Asia is also home, of course, to China–with which we’ve dramatically increased our engagement.

I was with Secretary Kerry, Treasury Secretary Jack Lew, and other Cabinet officials earlier this month for the annual Strategic and Economic Dialogue covering nearly every area of our relationship with China, from concrete steps to combat climate change and wildlife trafficking, to preventing nuclear proliferation on the Korean Peninsula and in Iran, to facilitating business and investment between our two countries.

These exchanges show the conviction of both sides – as the world’s two largest economies, two of the strongest military powers, and the two largest carbon emitters – to cooperate on the world’s toughest problems whenever we can. And just as important, they show our shared commitment to tackle problem areas frankly and openly, instead of merely agreeing to disagree on issues like human rights or intellectual property protection.

Australia, New Zealand, and the Pacific island states are extremely important partners. We’ve upgraded our defense cooperation with our Australian treaty ally, and we’re working to create jobs and shared prosperity with both Australia and New Zealand through the TPP trade agreement.

We’re also working with the vulnerable island states to protect the environment. Last month, Secretary Kerry hosted the “Our Ocean” conference, a first-of-its-kind diplomatic effort rallying heads of state, scientists and advocates from the Pacific Island nations and beyond to protect this shared resource.

But in many respects, the dynamic center of the region is Southeast Asia, and the ten countries that make up ASEAN.

Let me first say a few words about each.

Our ally the Philippines is a stable democracy with strong economic growth. We completed an enhanced defense cooperation agreement during President Obama’s visit in April, which enables us to better address common security challenges and provide relief for disasters, such as Typhoon Haiyan. Our economies also continue to grow closer, with two way trade reaching $24 billion last year.

We have strong partners in Indonesia and Malaysia, both pluralistic and tolerant Muslim-majority nations with growing economies. Indonesia’s recent presidential election shows the strength of their democracy. And President Obama’s recent visit to Malaysia highlighted our growing economic, people-to-people, and security ties.

Singapore is an influential and effective economic, diplomatic and security partner. Brunei is a major energy producer that, while small, has been a valuable partner for us on crucial regional issues like renewable energy and free trade.

Vietnam, of course, has a complicated history with the U.S. But our relations are now flourishing. Trade is increasing dramatically as Vietnam’s economy grows. And we’re forging closer security ties, even as we encourage greater political openness and respect for human rights.

We cooperate with Laos and Cambodia on a range of development issues, and we also push them to adhere to global standards of human rights.
With our longtime treaty ally Thailand, despite the recent setback of a military coup, we remain committed to our enduring friendship.

Perhaps no other country shows the promise of this region better than Burma, which has made a turn of historic proportions towards democracy and reform.
But that turn is by no means complete. Burma faces many challenges, and the success of its reform process is by no means certain. Burma is working to negotiate a lasting peace to end the world’s longest running civil war. It is grappling now with the key issue of constitutional reform, of military versus civilian control over its government, and of who it deems eligible to serve as head of state.

It continues to face hard choices in determining how to resolve an ongoing humanitarian crisis in Rakhine State. On that issue, we have seen some positive movement in the past week, as the government announced its intent to welcome the return of assistance providers, like Doctors Without Borders, and put forth its strategy on how to bring access to livelihoods and security back to populations that have been living tenuously for many months because of ethno-religious violence and discrimination.

Secretary Kerry will be very focused on seeing how this process is proceeding, when he visits in early August. He, and then President Obama when he visits in November, will be keen to get a sense of Burma’s preparedness for its landmark elections next year. The world will be watching, and we will continue to stand with the government and people of Burma as they enter this testing period. So we will continue to press Burma’s leaders to protect and respect all of their peoples, and their human rights and fundamental freedoms. And we will continue to support that country’s transformation.

That’s the overview of Southeast Asia today. The region’s economic dynamism and strategic importance has made it a particular focus of this administration – the ‘rebalance within the rebalance,’ if you will.

These ten countries have many differences, but they are bound by the conviction that they can achieve more together than they can apart. But before we talk about where they’re headed, it’s important to know how they came together.

Today’s ASEAN began in 1967 when the Vietnam War was heating up, and the Cold War seemed never-ending. In this uncertain world, five Southeast Asian nations signed a Declaration that they would support each other as they sought to build prosperous, independent states.

Now, nearly half a century after its founding, ASEAN has doubled to 10 nations with more than 620 million people, and a GDP of $2.2 trillion.

As Southeast Asia has grown and developed, ASEAN’s relations with the U.S. have grown as well. Under our Trade and Investment Framework Agreement signed in 2006, we have deepened our economic ties.

Since President Obama decided in 2009 to sign the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation–a treaty that ASEAN has extended to key neighbors–we’ve deepened our political ties as well. This is shown by the President’s decision to participate annually in the East Asia Summit, as he will again this year in November. This commitment to enhanced engagement with ASEAN is a key feature of the rebalance.

And we’re strengthening our ties with ASEAN across the entire U.S. government. Take this past April, when Secretary Hagel, USAID Administrator Raj Shah, and U.S. Pacific Commander Admiral Sam Locklear hosted defense ministers from the ASEAN nations in Hawai’i. This was the first-ever ASEAN meeting here in the United States–a recognition that our security and prosperity are more intertwined than ever before.

For instance, California already sells over $11.6 billion worth of goods to ASEAN. Exports to ASEAN support more than 90,000 California jobs [in 2012]. And both of those numbers can grow a lot more. Your state also stands to gain from more tourists and students from the region.

And ASEAN matters to the entire United States. We had $206 billion worth of trade in goods last year. ASEAN is our fourth-largest export market and trading partner. With a diaspora reaching across America, the region contributes to our culture. And sitting astride vital trade routes, it is important to our security.

A stable Southeast Asia that meets the aspirations of its people–for economic growth, clean air and water, education, and a voice in how they’re governed–is in America’s national interest. And one of the best, most efficient ways for America to help the region meet its aspirations is by investing in ASEAN.
Strengthening regional institutions is a long-term strategy. We pursue it because it’s essential to building the foundations for progress–from ease of trade, travel and transport, to systems for resolving legal disputes, to the ability to act together on pressing issues like environmental protection. We all benefit from a rules-based system.

Strong institutions harness a powerful force. A force you see in both daily life and in international politics–peer pressure. In fact, ASEAN shows that the best way to create positive peer pressure in the long term is through strong institutions.

ASEAN is working towards forming a cohesive economic community by next year through lower barriers and increased trade volumes with each other. For the U.S. economy, this will mean easier and more efficient market access to all 10 ASEAN countries. And in the longer term, a more prosperous ASEAN will be able to buy more American exports–from farm products to manufactured goods, to services.

Even as ASEAN pursues its ambitious agenda of internal integration, it has taken on the challenge of bringing the entire Asia-Pacific region closer together. This fills an important gap – APEC is a forum for economic cooperation, but there was no forum in the region where countries could deal with political, security, and humanitarian issues.

So in 1997, ASEAN started meetings with Japan, South Korea, and China… then with Australia, India, and New Zealand… and four years ago with the United States and Russia, bringing the number of world leaders attending what is now known as the East Asia Summit to 18.

The growth of the East Asia Summit shows ASEAN’s measured advance on the international stage as the hub that connects the region.

Less visible than the leaders’ summit, but even larger, is the ASEAN Regional Forum, an annual gathering of foreign ministers and other senior officials representing 26 countries from Pakistan to the Pacific Rim, and the EU.
This is perhaps the region’s most important ministerial meeting of the year, and it takes place in a few weeks in Burma. Secretary Kerry and his counterparts will discuss political and security issues, and begin fleshing out the agenda for the East Asia Summit, or EAS, which President Obama plans to attend in November.

Why the emphasis on EAS? In Europe, we’ve seen for decades how a region can develop effective institutions tailored to their unique needs, such as NATO and the OSCE. Those organizations have helped tackle regional, political, security and humanitarian problems. We believe the EAS can become the premier forum for addressing pressing issues in the Asia-Pacific region. But it is relatively new, and members are still trying to shape it to increase its usefulness and effectiveness.

We joined EAS because, as an Asia-Pacific nation, we want to be at the table for a strategic discussion about how we build and shape the institution over time.

Let me give you a little preview of the issues that will be at the top of Secretary Kerry’s agenda. We expect to advance collaboration on issues ranging from non-proliferation to humanitarian assistance and disaster response.
Disaster response is incredibly important, since the Asia-Pacific is hit by 70 percent of all natural disasters, costing the region $68 billion annually over the past ten years.

We have worked closely with partners, including China, on improving regional responses to problems and accidents such as oil spills, for example. We are supporting the EAS declaration on Rapid Disaster Response, helping spread the lessons learned in the Philippines from the recent Super-typhoon Haiyan, and working to improve the capabilities of ASEAN’s Centre for Humanitarian Assistance and disaster relief.

We’ve also teamed up with regional partners to develop a strategic plan for exercises that will prepare us to better coordinate delivery of life-saving relief in future disasters. And we are preparing to host an ARF climate change adaptation workshop to help countries protect their people from this growing problem.

In addition to advancing these areas of collaboration, we will have frank discussions about pressing political and security challenges. In recent months, the main security challenge facing ASEAN has been tensions in the South China Sea.

This is, of course, most important to the countries with overlapping territorial and maritime claims there. Let me note up front that the U.S. is not a claimant and does not take a position on others’ claims to land features in the South China Sea. So the United States can be impartial. And we are impartial; we are not taking one claimant’s side against another.

However, peace and stability in the South China Sea is important to the international community, because the South China Sea is essential to the global economy. Up to 50 percent of the world’s oil tanker shipments, and over half of the world’s merchant tonnage, pass through the South China Sea. National interests like freedom of navigation, international law, the peaceful settlement of disputes, and unimpeded commerce are at stake.

Rival maritime and territorial claims have existed here for decades, as countries jostle over islands, shipping lanes, historically rich fisheries, and more recently, oil and gas reserves.

The claimants have, at various times, shown that cooperation in the South China Sea area is possible. They have jointly explored for and managed resources. The Philippines and Indonesia peacefully settled a 20-year maritime boundary dispute just outside the Sea earlier this year. China and Vietnam have settled similar issues in the past. And some claimants have jointly developed energy resources further away from disputed land features.

In 2002, the ASEAN nations and China signed a Declaration on Conduct in the South China Sea. The Declaration, among other things, said that the parties would resolve disputes peacefully and in accordance with international law, and would refrain from actions that would escalate disputes, such as setting up new outposts on unoccupied features. And they agreed to work toward a more detailed Code of Conduct.

But tensions have flared over the years as well, and this year, they are running high. No claimant is solely responsible for the state of tensions. However, big and powerful countries have a special responsibility to show restraint. China’s recent pattern of assertive, unilateral behavior has raised serious concerns about China’s expansive claims, and its willingness to adhere to international law and standards.

Tensions spiked recently when China sent a deepwater drilling rig and armed ships into an area near the Paracel Islands that Vietnam also claims. The resulting weeks-long confrontation resulted in damaged ships, including the sinking of a Vietnamese fishing vessel, and damaged relations, including anti-Chinese riots in Vietnam.

At the same time, public evidence indicates the claimants are upgrading outposts on small land features in the South China Sea. What worries me is that China’s projects are far outpacing similar upgrades that other claimants are making. This important, resource-rich area should not be heavily militarized.
And actions off the water can raise tensions as well.

All parties should be able to bring disputes for adjudication under international law if they conclude that regular diplomatic efforts will not succeed. The Philippines has done this in a dispute with China over the validity of its claim that a 1948 Nationalist Chinese map “proves” that China owns the land and water within a “9 dash line” in the South China Sea.

But instead of engaging constructively and arguing its case as the Tribunal has proposed, China has pressured the Philippines to drop its case, and attempted to isolate the Philippines diplomatically.

International law, not national power, should be the basis for pursuing maritime claims in the South China Sea.

The United States works to lower tensions and help the parties peacefully manage their disputes in several ways. We have told the claimants – including the Chinese – directly and at the highest levels, of our growing concern. And we’ve encouraged all sides to avoid provocations and make clear claims based on international law.

We’re working with ASEAN and the international community to promote regional structures and arrangements, like a meaningful Code of Conduct, to lower tensions and manage disputes.

Rules and guidelines work best when they’re agreed to by the parties, through institutions that build habits of cooperation.

The U.S. is also investing more than $156 million in the civilian maritime capabilities of allies and partners in the area over the next two years. This includes equipment, training, and infrastructure. And it augments our own security presence in the region, which has been enhanced by the rebalance.
These are steps the U.S. is taking. But the claimants are the ones who must manage and settle the disputes. They are the ones who must generate the peer pressure – who must hold themselves to high standards, and then set an example for each other.

For instance, China and ASEAN already committed under the 2002 Declaration on Conduct to avoid activities that “would complicate or escalate disputes and affect peace and stability.”

However, these problematic activities are not well defined. We are urging China and the other claimants to have a conversation about what activities are acceptable to each of them – both to help reduce tensions now, and manage differences in the long run.

We have called for claimant states to define and voluntarily freeze problematic activities. The exact elements of a freeze would be decided by consensus among the claimants, and would not prejudice the competing claims.
We’ve offered these ideas, in greater detail, both in public and in private. And we plan on advancing this important discussion at the upcoming ASEAN Regional Forum meeting in Burma.

Over time, strong institutions can influence the conduct of all their members, helping to avoid conflict and incentivize peaceful resolution of disputes. We see beneficial outcomes of positive peer pressure with environmental issues, in trade, and human rights. It doesn’t work every time, but it’s responsible for enormous progress.

The Asia-Pacific region has almost limitless potential, if it can avoid the pitfalls ahead. Strong institutions are key – not just to avoid and resolve disputes, but also to lower barriers to trade, and protect human rights and fundamental freedoms.

The U.S., as a resident Pacific power and participant in many of the region’s institutions, will do all we can to strengthen those institutions even further.
We do this through our alliances and our security partnerships–and through our growing business and people-to-people ties, in which California plays an incredibly large role. And together, the American people and our government will continue to help provide a foundation of peace and stability on which the region can grow.


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Podesta Leads U.S. Delegation to the Pacific Islands Forum Mon, 28 Jul 2014 12:55:44 +0000 Press Release – US Department Of State

Counselor to the President John Podesta will lead a high-level U.S. Government delegation to the Pacific Islands Forum Post Forum Dialogue (PIF PFD) on August 1 in Koror, Palau, to highlight and build upon our historic relations with the peoples and nations …Counselor Podesta Leads U.S. Delegation to the Pacific Islands Forum

July 28, 2014

Counselor to the President John Podesta will lead a high-level U.S. Government delegation to the Pacific Islands Forum Post Forum Dialogue (PIF PFD) on August 1 in Koror, Palau, to highlight and build upon our historic relations with the peoples and nations of the Pacific. The U.S. delegation will include senior officials from the National Security Council, United States Pacific Command, U.S. Coast Guard, Department of State, Department of the Interior, U.S. Peace Corps, U.S. Agency for International Development, and the State of Hawaii.

Following former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s attendance at the PIF PFD in 2012 and Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell’s attendance as Head of Delegation in 2013, this high-level delegation demonstrates continued U.S. commitment to the rebalance to the Asia-Pacific region and to issues that are of utmost importance to the Pacific Islands, including oceans, climate change, renewable energy, economic growth, sustainable development, and environmental conservation.


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Fiji: Five year climate change project reviewed Mon, 28 Jul 2014 12:35:19 +0000 Press Release – SPREP

Regional five year climate change adaptation project reviewed in Fiji this week 28 July 2014, Nadi, Fiji – The wide-ranging impact of the Pacific Adaptation to Climate Change Project was highlighted this morning at the opening ceremony of a meeting …Regional five year climate change adaptation project reviewed in Fiji this week

28 July 2014,

Nadi, Fiji - The wide-ranging impact of the Pacific Adaptation to Climate Change Project was highlighted this morning at the opening ceremony of a meeting of all partners, the final multi-partite review. The project ends in December this year.

It’s a project with much to celebrate and to learn from, having impacted positively upon over 54,000 people from 80 villages in all Pacific island countries.

“This review, the final one for the project, is not any ordinary review that has been conducted as part of this project. This is the grand finale of all reviews, given that the project is due to end in December, 2014. This meeting is therefore a very significant event,” said Dr. Mahendra Kumar, Director of the Fiji Climate Change Division, during his keynote speech.

“I wish you all a productive week of deliberations and look forward to the results of the review as well as the launching of publications and technical reports emanating from this project.”

Starting in 2009, the project has worked in 14 Pacific island countries, helping to adapt to climate change by targeting one of the three key areas of food security and production, water resource management and coastal protection.

The Pacific Adaptation to Climate Change Project is the culmination of a partnership funded by the Global Environment Facility and the Government of Australia. The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) is the implementing agency and SPREP is the implementing partner, responsible for coordination and overall project management.

The project has three key components; to help effect policy change through strengthening mainstreaming of climate change; carry out demonstration projects and; develop tools and resources.

“PACC is the largest regional climate change adaptation project that has enabled implementation of particle and tangible results on the ground,” said Dr. Netatua Pelesikoti, Director of Climate Change of SPREP at the opening of the meeting.

“PACC has also helped to establish the necessary enabling environments, including mainstreaming of climate change and climate variability into policy and development planning.”

The PACC project has been the impetus for new improved water reservoir and management systems in the Marshall Islands, Nauru, Tonga, Tuvalu and Niue. It was also the catalyst for the launch of a renovated harbour in the Cook Islands and new climate change resilient food crops in Fiji and the Solomon Islands.

All PACC countries have new infrastructure in place as part of their demonstration projects, with Tuvalu, Tonga, Marshall Islands and Nauru now replicating these.

“I like to think that some of the work that we’ve done in the past five years has basically built key stepping stones, which I think we can build on from here,” said Ms. Lizbeth Cullity, the United Nations Resident Coordinator & UNDP Resident Representative Samoa, Niue, Cook Islands and Tokelau in her opening statement.

“It is now timely to ask ourselves – how can we build on the knowledge and on the physical structures that we’ve been able to implement?”

Through the work of PACC over the past 4 years, policy changes have been made that deliver immediate benefits of reducing vulnerability to emerging climate risks in all 14 Pacific island countries.

An average of two policy changes have taken place at the national level per country, with an overall of 24 national policies, legal instruments, policy frameworks, institutional establishment strategies being developed, amended or ‘further amended’.

“I just wanted to reflect upon the importance of lessons learnt at the country level and there’s one particular story and lesson that sticks in my mind, the lessons we learnt here will inform us all and how to do this better,” said John Morley, First Secretary, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Government of Australia when addressing the participants at the opening of the meeting.

“The story of a village that needed water tanks set on a hill but didn’t have a lot of resources, no fancy cranes or trucks however it had a great football team and it used that team to cart the water tanks up to the village and set them up. Thank you, Tonga for sharing this story. Our Pacific communities have a lot of resilience, spirit and heart. We’ve been a very proud partner of PACC.”

The one week meeting brings together all PACC coordinators, donors, development partners to review the work undertaken over the past five years. This will be an opportunity to discuss what worked well and what should be recommended for future similar regional projects.

The Pacific Adaptation to Climate Change Project countries are Cook Islands, Fiji, Federated States of Micronesia, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tokelau, Tuvalu and Vanuatu.
The 5th Multipartite Review Meeting of the Pacific Adaptation to Climate Change Projects is held in Nadi, Fiji from 28 July to 1 August.


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Podesta Leads U.S. Delegation to the Pacific Islands Forum Mon, 28 Jul 2014 12:12:51 +0000 Press Release – US Department Of State

Counselor to the President John Podesta will lead a high-level U.S. Government delegation to the Pacific Islands Forum Post Forum Dialogue (PIF PFD) on August 1 in Koror, Palau, to highlight and build upon our historic relations with the peoples and nations …Counselor Podesta Leads U.S. Delegation to the Pacific Islands Forum

July 28, 2014

Media Note
Office of the Spokesperson
Washington, DC

Counselor to the President John Podesta will lead a high-level U.S. Government delegation to the Pacific Islands Forum Post Forum Dialogue (PIF PFD) on August 1 in Koror, Palau, to highlight and build upon our historic relations with the peoples and nations of the Pacific. The U.S. delegation will include senior officials from the National Security Council, United States Pacific Command, U.S. Coast Guard, Department of State, Department of the Interior, U.S. Peace Corps, U.S. Agency for International Development, and the State of Hawaii.
Following former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s attendance at the PIF PFD in 2012 and Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell’s attendance as Head of Delegation in 2013, this high-level delegation demonstrates continued U.S. commitment to the rebalance to the Asia-Pacific region and to issues that are of utmost importance to the Pacific Islands, including oceans, climate change, renewable energy, economic growth, sustainable development, and environmental conservation.


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iPredict Ltd2014 Election Update #28 Sun, 27 Jul 2014 12:50:30 +0000 Press Release – iPredict

The chances of a fiscal surplus in 2014/15 continue to plunge and are down to 50%, according to the combined wisdom of the 7000 registered traders on New Zealands online predictions market, iPredict. The forecast surplus is now just 0.22% of GDP, …IPREDICT LTD


Monday 28 July 2014
Key Points:

Surplus forecast continues dramatic fall

Inflationary expectations creep up as interest-rate forecasts fall

NZ First and Internet-Mana rise at expense of major parties

Conservatives to miss out on seats and 5%

Peters to hold balance of power and picked to back National

Cunliffe’s chances of surviving year worsen

2017 neck-and-neck between National and Labour

The chances of a fiscal surplus in 2014/15 continue to plunge and are down to 50%, according to the combined wisdom of the 7000 registered traders on New Zealand’s online predictions market, iPredict. The forecast surplus is now just 0.22% of GDP, down from 0.43% a month ago. Meanwhile, the RBNZ is not expected to raise the OCR again this year, prompting inflationary expectations to creep up. In politics, the forecast party votes for National, Labour and the Greensare all down, with the winners being NZ First and Internet-Mana. The former is expected to hold the balance of power after the election and elect to back National, while the Conservative Party’s chances of entering parliament have crashed tonegligible levels. David Cunliffe is not expected to survive the year as Labour leader and the 2017 election is now judged to be 50:50 between National and Labour.

Economic Context

Growth expectations have improved fractionally this week. Growth in the June quarter is now expected to be 0.9% (steady compared with last week), 1.0% in the September quarter (steady) and 1.2% in the December quarter (up from 1.1%). Forecast annual growth for 2014 is steady on 4.1%.

Stocks forecasting growth in the March 2015, June 2015, September 2015 and December 2015 quarters are now open for trading, but have not yet attracted sufficient volumes to make robust forecasts.

Unemployment expectations are again unchanged this week. Unemployment is expected to be 5.7% in the June quarter (steady compared with last week), 5.5% in the September quarter (steady) and 5.5% in the December quarter (steady).

Forecasts for the current account deficit have again improved marginally this week. The forecast deficit for the June quarter is now 2.8% of GDP (down from 2.9% last week), 3.7% in the September quarter (steady) and 3.9% in the December quarter (down from 4.0%).

The probability of a fiscal surplus in 2014/15 has fallen dramatically this week, and is at 50% for the first time, down from 64% last week, 76% two weeks ago, 84% three weeks ago and 86% four weeks ago. The surplus forecast for 2014/15 is now just 0.22% of GDP, down from 0.31% last week, 0.37% the week before, 0.42% three weeks ago and 0.43% a month ago. Future surplus forecasts are steady at 1.0% of GDP in 2015/16, 2.0% for 2016/17 and 2.4% for 2017/18.

Inflationary expectations have risen this week but remain below the Reserve Bank’s 2% target midpoint through 2014. Annual inflation to the end of the September quarter is expected to be 1.6% (up from 1.5% last week), and 1.8% in theDecember quarter (up from 1.7%).

Stocks forecasting inflation in the March 2015, June 2015, September 2015 and December 2015 quarters are now open for trading, but have not yet attracted sufficient volumes to make robust forecasts.

The rise in inflationary expectations mirrors a fall in interest-rate expectations. As widely forecast, including by iPredict, the Reserve Bank of New Zealand (RBNZ) increased the Official Cash Rate (OCR) by 25 basis points last Thursday, but the next increase is not expected for some time. There is a 93% probability of no change on 11 September, an 85% probability of no change on 30 October, a 62% probability of no change on 11 December and a 62% probability of no change on 29 January, but a 67% probability of a 25-point rise on 12 March.

Compared with the rate of 2.5% at the start of 2014, the market is pricing that the OCR will be up 100 basis points in September (down from 104), 104 in October (down from 105), 112 in December (down from 115), 117 in January 2015(down from 120), 133 in March 2015 (down from 135), 142 in April 2015 (down from 144) and 158 in June 2015 (down from 160).

Foreign Affairs & Trade

New Zealand’s chances of being elected to the UN Security Council for 2015-16 are steady at 30%, as is the probability Helen Clark will be appointed the next UN Secretary General at 29%. The probability New Zealand will sign a Free Trade Agreement with South Korea before 1 December 2014 is down to 14% (from 16% last week, 22% the week before and 26% three weeks ago. The probability the US Congress will ratify the yet-to-be-signed Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement before 1 July 2015 is down to 3% (from 11% last week) and the probability of ratification by 1 July 2017 is down to 21% (from 29% last week).

Party Vote

All current party leaders, including Maori Party co-leader Tariana Turia, are strongly expected to remain in their roles until nomination day with at least 90% probability. The party vote turnout is expected to be 74.1% (steady compared with last week).

Of major parties, National is expected to win 44.2% of the party vote (down from 45.3% last week), Labour is expected to win 29.6% (down from 29.8%), and the Green Party is expected to win 10.7% (down from 10.8%).

Of smaller parties, NZ First’s expected party vote is 5.7% (up from 5.1% last week), the Conservative Party is on 3.7% (up from 3.6%), Internet Mana is on 2.8% (up from 2.2%), Act is on 1.9% (up from 1.8%), the Maori Party is on 0.8% (down from 0.9%), UnitedFuture is on 0.2% (down from 0.4%), and the Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party is on 0.2% (steady).

Electorate Contests

In key electorate contests, Mana has an 86% probability of winning at least one seat (up from 83% last week) and its expected electorate representation is steady on 1.2 electorate MPs. The probability Mana leader Hone Harawira will winTe Tai Tokerau is 85% (up from 82% last week) and its candidate in Waiariki, Annette Sykes, is on 43% probability (steady).

Act’s probability of winning at least one electorate seat is 84% (steady compared with last week), and its expected electorate representation is 0.9 MPs (steady). The market is pricing that its candidate David Seymour has an 85% probability of winning Epsom (steady).

UnitedFuture has an 85% probability of winning at least one seat (up from 83% last week) and its expected electorate MP representation is 0.8 MPs (steady). Its probability of winning Peter Dunne’s Ohariu electorate is 83% (up from 82% last week).

The Maori Party continues to recover but remains in trouble. It now has a 51% probability of winning an electorate (up from 48% last week and 45% the week before) and its expected electorate representation is 0.7 MPs (steady). The probability co-leader Te Ururoa Flavell will win Waiariki is 50% (up from 48% last week).

The Conservative Party’s probability of winning at least one seat remains 35% (steady compared with last week), and its expected electorate representation is also steady on 0.4 MPs. The Conservatives are not expected to win any specific electorate and leader Colin Craig has just a 33% probability of winning in East Coast Bays against Murray McCully (steady compared with last week).

The Greens and NZ First continue not to be expected to win electorate seats.

The two most marginal seats, excluding those mentioned above, are Palmerston North and Port Hills

In Palmerston North, National’s Jono Naylor has edged ahead of Labour’s Ian Lees-Galloway and now has a 55% probability of winning the seat (up from 50% last week).

In Port Hills, Labour’s Ruth Dyson is on 59% probability of retaining her seat (steady compared with last week) from National’s challenger, Nuk Korako.

Election Result & Alternative Scenarios

Based on the party-vote and electorate forecasts above, Parliament would consist of: National 56 MPs (down from 57 last week), Labour 37 MPs (steady), the Greens 13 MPs (down from 14), NZ First 7 MPs (up from 6), Internet-Mana 4 MPs (up from 3), Act 2 MPs (steady), UnitedFuture 1 MP (steady) and the Maori Party 1 MP (up from 0). Parliament would have 121 MPs and a government would be required to have the support of 61 MPs on confidence and supply.

Under this scenario, the current governing arrangement of National, Act, UnitedFuture and the Maori Party would have only 60 seats and could not govern. National could govern with the support of NZ First with whom it would hold 63 seats. Labour could also form a government with the Greens, Internet-Mana and NZ First, with a combined 61 seats.

Were the Maori Party to miss out on Waiariki, Parliament would be the same as above except that the Greens would have 14 MPs and the Maori Party none. This would not change the situation in terms of forming a government, with either a National/NZ First or a Labour/Green/Internet-Mana/NZ First government being possible.

Given the likelihood NZ First will hold the balance of power, iPredict has a bundle of stocks forecasting NZ First’s decision-making should it hold the balance of power. This indicates its preference is shifting to National. There is a 55% probability Mr Peters would support a National-led government (up from 49% last week) and a 4% probability he would give confidence and supply to neither National nor Labour (up from 2%) which would favour the larger bloc, which the market indicates would be National-led. There is a 41% probability Mr Peters would support a Labour-led Government (down from 47%)

Overall, National now has an 82% probability of leading the next government, up from 80% last week and 78% the week before.

Post Election Developments

David Cunliffe’s immediate position as Labour leader has worsened but his longer-term prognosis if he survives the year has edged up. There is now a 65% probability he will depart as leader by the end of 2014 (up from 52% last week), an 86% probability he will depart by the end of 2015 (down from 88%), a 88% probability he will depart by the end of 2016 (down from 92%) and a 95% probability he will depart by the end of 2017 (down from 99%).

Grant Robertson continues to be strongly favoured to succeed Mr Cunliffe as next Labour leader, with 66% probability (up from 65% last week). David Parker remains in second-place with 15% probability (down from 19%), followed by Jacinda Ardern on 8% (steady).

In National, John Key’s position continues to strengthen. He now has an 11% probability of departing by the end of 2014 (not reported last week), a 33% probability of departing as leader by the end of 2015 (down from 38% last week), a 55% probability of departing by the end of 2016 (down from 59%), and a 77% probability of departing by the end of 2017 (down from 80%).

Steven Joyce remains favoured to succeed Mr Key as National Party leader, with 45% probability (steady compared with last week), followed by Judith Collins on 17% probability (steady), followed by Simon Bridges, Paula Bennett and Bill English, all on 7% (all steady).

Labour’s chances of winning the 2017 election have fallen to 50% (from 52% last week) and that election is again 50:50 between the two main parties.


iPredict Ltd is owned by Victoria University of Wellington. Details on the company and its stocks can be found at The weekly political update is prepared by Exceltium Ltd on a pro bono basis and is based on a snapshot taken at a random time each week. This week’s was taken at 7.53 am today.


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TPPA is a bad idea Sun, 27 Jul 2014 12:04:22 +0000 Press Release – Democrats for Social Credit

Currently New Zealand, Australia, Singapore, Brunei, Vietnam, the USA, Japan, Malaysia, Canada, and Mexico are still negotiating the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement. Officially talks finished last August, but the reality is that they keep …TPPA is a bad idea

“Currently New Zealand, Australia, Singapore, Brunei, Vietnam, the USA, Japan, Malaysia, Canada, and Mexico are still negotiating the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement. Officially talks finished last August, but the reality is that they keep on going, with the next round due to take place in December,” John Ring, Democrats for Social Credit spokesman on Foreign Affairs and candidate for Wigram, told a Christchurch meeting today.

“One of the matters that was dealt with relatively early (in 2009) was the issue of how physical trade was to be dealt with. New Zealand and Australia wanted one schedule, so all participating countries would agree to the same things, but the USA said many of these countries already had free trade deals with each other, so existing deals should remain, but those countries that didn’t already have trade deals with each other should negotiate bilateral deals. The USA won on that point.

“Some people have criticised Japan and Australia for doing a bilateral deal outside the TPPA, but this was in accordance with the basic strategy that had been agreed to, except that they did it outside the TPPA, so if the full TPPA is never agreed to, the agreement between Japan and Australia will still stand.

“One consequence of this approach to negotiations is that if Japan and the United States reach an agreement on trade in dairy products, this will have no effect on negotiations about dairy products between New Zealand and the United States or between New Zealand and Japan. The Prime Minister doesn’t seem to be aware of that.

”Early last year the United Stated and New Zealand were almost in agreement about physical trade. The one area on which they could not agree was dairy, and that doesn’t seem to have changed since then.

“However, the Transpacific Partnership Agreement has 29 chapters, only four of which have anything to do with physical trade. Topics covered in other chapters include such things as investment, regulatory coherence, intellectual property, and state – owned enterprises.

“Collectively, these other provisions would, if the agreement is adopted, tend to reduce our economic performance, reduce the options available for handling any crisis, and slow down the government’s response to crises such as the recent earthquakes.

“Overall, the agreement is a bad idea and should be rejected,” said Mr Ring.


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Conference on Democracy, Ethics and the Public Good Sun, 27 Jul 2014 11:57:17 +0000 Press Release – Public Good

Conference on Democracy, Ethics and the Public Good A conference is to be held in Wellington on 1 and 2 August with the aim of starting a NZ-wide discussion about the quality of our democracy. The conference is hosted jointly by the St Andrews … Conference on Democracy, Ethics and the Public Good

A conference is to be held in Wellington on 1 and 2 August with the aim of starting a NZ-wide discussion about the quality of our democracy. The conference is hosted jointly by the St Andrews Trust for the Study of Religion and Society and Public Good Aotearoa NZ.

The aim of the conference is to kick start a conversation about the health and quality of democracy in New Zealand. NZ has a rich democratic history with an early start to universal suffrage, the adoption of the MMP system and high scores on openness and transparency internationally. However the frequent use of urgency in Parliament, the lack of local democracy in Canterbury, the difficulties for the very poor in a highly unequal society and the recent news that only 69% of 18-24 years olds are enrolled to vote are signs that all is not well in NZ’s democratic arrangements.

The conference speakers, including some of New Zealand’s best- known academics, will develop a framework, and presentations from community and advocacy organisations look at democratic issues in specific sectors. The conference will include workshops and participants will have a chance to develop new thinking about the issues.

Following the conference, Public Good will publish the key outcomes and an action plan.

Venue: St Andrews on the Terrace
Friday 7.00pm – 9.00pm
Saturday 9.00am – 4.30pm


The conference is open to the media and will be recorded – video on Friday, audio on Saturday
Most speakers are willing to do media work in connection with the conference.

Public Good Aotearoa NZ
Public Good ( is a network focused on the public sphere. It has three areas for its work: the need for a strong and well-resourced public sector; genuine democracy and engagement; and community wealth – strengthening community assets and capability. The network brings together activists, academics and others interested in supporting the work.

Conference programme
Full conference information including registration details are at

Friday evening (7-9pm)
• Bronwyn Hayward, an academic based at the University of Canterbury, will talk about how for a healthy democracy children need more than civics education. They need hands on experiences of deliberative democracy. She will discuss her recent research to help us understand the kind of democracy we are creating.
• Michael Macaulay the newly of appointed head of Victoria University’s Institute of Governance and Policy Studies will talk about the Open Government Partnership and the opportunities for New Zealand from the perspective of his UK and NZ experience with transparency and integrity systems.
• Auckland University Law Professor Jane Kelsey will be addressing the risks to democracy of international ‘free trade’ treaties including the way they bypass the usual democratic controls.

Saturday (9am – 4.30pm)
• Wendy McGuinness, CE of the McGuinness Institute will talk about the Institute’s work with young people on the 2013 Consitutional Review and the future focussed work including identifying what is necessary to bring to fruition Prof Sir Paul Callaghan’s desire to make New Zealand a place where talent wants to live.
• Sandra Grey and Charles Sedgwick will be speaking on grass roots organisations and the challenges posed by the joint role they have in society of advocating for their constituency as well as providing contracted government services.
• Bill Ryan Associate Professor in the School of Government at Victoria University will talk on the pressures on government caused by social media, openness and 24 hour news cycle and a public sector legislative framework that is overdue for renewal.

There will also be a series of shorter panel presentations and the opportunity for participants to debate and discuss the issues in a series of workshops throughout the day.

Other speakers are:
• Myles Thomas will talk about the issues with a lack of quality public broadcasting in NZ.
• Barbara Bedeschi-Lewando will talk about the participatory democracy approaches being used in Brazil and elsewhere.
• Cath Wallace will address the impact of recent changes to the Resource Management Act.
• Ben Knight from Loomio will be discussing participatory democracy and its role in supporting collaborative decision making.
• Stephanie Rodgers will talk about social media and new generation feminism.
• Meg Howie will talk about the election engagement initiative AskAway and Kieran Stowers will profile On the Fence. These initiatives are part of Massey University’s Design & Democracy Project.
• Max Rashbrooke will address the democracy and participation issues related to high levels of inequality.
• Julia Amua Whaipooti, Ngati Porou from youth justice organisation JustSpeak will speak about justice and imprisonment issues and the impacts of the removal of the right to vote.

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Rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic? Labour and MANA Wed, 23 Jul 2014 17:08:24 +0000 Article – Ian Anderson

Early in July this year, Labour Party leader David Cunliffe made headlines by apologising for being a man. Stoked by capitalist media sensation, Prime Minister John Key responded that not all men abuse women.

Rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic? The Labour Party and MANA

by Ian Anderson
July 24, 2014

Early in July this year, Labour Party leader David Cunliffe made headlines by apologising for being a man. Stoked by capitalist media sensation, Prime Minister John Key responded that “not all men” abuse women.

For abuse survivors and their supporters however, Cunliffe sentiments were not entirely off the mark. Cunliffe’s original comment occurred at a Women’s Refuge event, with a pledge to invest $60 million more into family violence services. His apology reflected widespread normalisation and acceptance of male violence, the fact that men perpetrate most abuse, (even most violence against men is inflicted by other men) and the lack of support for survivors of all genders.

Fightback, as a socialist-feminist organisation, can unite with the demand for increased survivor support. However, there is a deeper problem associated with the call for social spending. At the end of April this year, the government allocated $10 million more for sexual violence support services, after pressure from the women’s movement, represented in parliament by Green MP Jan Logie. Even in the wake of this allocation, Christchurch Rape Crisis recently closed down due to underfunding, in the context of a 40% rise in reported sexual assaults since 2010.

2014 is the 30th anniversary of the election of the Fourth Labour Government. The Fourth Labour Government introduced neoliberalism – the dominant form of transnational capitalism defined by privatisation and cutbacks – to Aotearoa/NZ. No government has restored the level of social spending prior to the Fourth Labour Government.

While Labour’s leadership may reallocate some spending if they are elected, they show no interest in healing the deep cuts of the last 30 years. This is a grim historical irony for women’s organisations like Refuge and Rape Crisis, which achieved state recognition over a period of retreating social spending.

Labour’s leadership have pledged to raise the retirement age, a policy not even National supports. While they pledge to raise the minimum wage to a mere $15, they also indicate that they will maintain National’s welfare attacks. This is a zero-sum game. The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away.

Labour’s limitations are not solely a matter of uninspiring local policy or leaders, but of a transnational political-economic paradigm. The world’s richest man, Carlos Slim, recently called for a three-day working week to improve quality of life. Undercutting the apparently progressive headlines though, Slim asserted that retirement ages are too low and should be raised to 70 or 75. Slim’s reasoning, that a shorter working week could be necessary for a longer working life, seems slim comfort for those facing the prospect of menial labour into their 70s.

Generally, the already grim promised trade-offs; a nickel for your weekend, a dollar for your soul; are unreliable. Despite right-wing claims to grow the pie instead of sharing it equally, the pie seems to be getting smaller. Despite Slim’s recommendation, capitalist governments are overwhelmingly more likely to raise the retirement age than decrease the working week.

As superstar philosopher Slavoj Zizek recently observed, secretly negotiated trade agreements, such as the Trade in Services Agreement (TISA) and Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA), set the economic agenda more than elections:

“The key decisions concerning our economy are negotiated and enforced in secret, and set the coordinates for the unencumbered rule of capital. In this way, the space for decision-making by the democratically elected politicians is severely limited, and the political process deals predominantly with issues towards which capital is indifferent.”

Labour’s leadership initiated the TPPA negotiations, and show no interest in reversing them, despite the wishes of their membership.

Ultimately, Labour’s leadership is firmly committed to managing neoliberalism. Labour’s base is in the public and community sector; civil servants, union bureaucrats, teachers. In fact, because they know the public sector better, Labour are in some ways better equipped to manage an austerity-lite program. While National’s policies are often driven by cronyism, (SkyCity) or seem ideological and arbitrary, (charter schools, asset sales) Labour seek to manage the public sector professionally and, where, possible, equitably.

Public debt has increased under National, due to both international borrowing and tax cuts for the rich. If Labour were to increase taxation and attempt to slash pensions, (currently the biggest slice of social spending) this may balance the books more smartly than National, but it would also undermine what support Labour has.

To give another example, the Labour Party knows the tertiary education sector well, and have been instrumental in restructuring it along market lines. The Fourth Labour government got rid of the universal allowance and introduced student loans, the Fifth Labour government introduced the Performance-Based Research Fund (which treats universities not as places of learning, but producers of marketable research). Even Labour’s apparently pro-student policies, like interest-free student loans, maintain a market model. By contrast, National appears to have no plan, making cuts such as getting rid of the student allowance for post-grad students – apparently undermining the continued emphasis on research, and without any significant government saving.

Ultimately, both major parties are rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. Everybody knows the boat is leaking, everybody knows the captain lied. It’s no wonder that the 2011 General Election saw the lowest turnout since women won the right to vote.

Socialists argue for the socialisation of property, the unlocking of wealth which could allow for a more fulfilling social existence, for self-determination and kaitiakitanga(guardianship) over resources. Right now, as the zero-sum game rages globally, the possibility of liberation seems remote. It’s easier to imagine the end of the world than the end of capitalism.

While social transformation seems unlikely, it’s the only realistic possibility if humans are to survive and flourish. This poses the question of where to start, how to organise, how to build from what we have. Fightback argues that in the long term, progressives must chart a course independent of the Labour Party. There are areas where we can unite with Labour Party members on campaigns, but ultimately we’re heading in a different direction from the leadership.

After successive betrayals by both Labour and National governments, the MANA Movement formed around Hone Harawira, and other leaders with a proven radical history. Iwi networks, such as Ngāpuhi, provide the organised backbone of the MANA Movement – for example, mobilising the nationwide hikoi against asset sales.

The difference between Labour and MANA is not simply a spectrum from ‘far left’ to ‘centre left.’ It’s not even a matter of MANA’s leadership being consistently progressive – the MANA Movement held Harawira to account on same-sex marriage rights. In fact where Labour MPs treated marriage rights as a conscience issue, MANA owned the issue as a movement.

Labour’s leadership seeks to manage neoliberalism equitably, MANA seeksrangatiratanga (leadership) for te pani me te rawakore (the poor and dispossessed), what Harawira calls “the largest tribe.” This means building a democratic mass movement for justice and self-determination. MANA supports building 10,000 state houses, taking back assets, free education. To support this policy program, MANA calls for taxes on the rich (alongside scrapping GST).

For MANA’s Māori leadership this means building alliances, where possible, with sympathetic Pākeha and tau iwi – on the basis that “what’s good for Māori is good for everyone.” In 2011, MANA stood leftist Pākeha candidates including John Minto and Sue Bradford in General Electorate seats, to campaign for the party vote. This didn’t significantly expand MANA’s base beyond its stronghold in Harawira’s Te Tai Tokerau.

In the lead-up to the 2014 General Election, MANA has formed a tactical alliance with the Internet Party, founded by German millionaire Kim Dotcom. MANA was widely criticised for cutting a deal with Dotcom, even by parties which habitually take donations from big business. Fightback also raised initial concerns about Dotcom’s trustworthiness, although we have reaffirmed our support for the MANA Movement.

Traditionally no friend of the working class, Dotcom was forced into a corner by his experience of state repression. At the 2014 MANA AGM, Waiariki candidate Annette Sykes stated that policies and principles must be a bottom line in any deal. At a recent speech on the Internet MANA road trip, Sykes observed how Dotcom’s encounter with state repression resonated, in terms recalling the Urewera raids under the last Labour government:

“Families are destroyed when the cops come into your house with their guns. That’s what happened to Kim Dotcom. I must say that was the only thing about him, I don’t care about his money, that was the only thing that I really admired him for. Because when it happened he stood up for him and his kids and his family.”

In contrast to Labour and National’s imperialist consensus, Dotcom opposes the TPPA, the Five Eyes, and the GCSB. Dotcom’s opposition to surveillance and secret trade agreements, key parts of the transnational imperialist apparatus, formed the initial basis of his tactical alliance with the left.

The Internet Party itself, still in formation, is shaping out to be a progressive organisation. MANA underlined changing the government as a further bottom line for the alliance. With veteran unionist Laila Harre stepping in as Internet Party leader, and crucially MANA retaining independence to pursue its own policy program, the deal at this stage appears to be shaping out well for MANA. Internet Mana aims to mobilise non-voters; overwhelmingly young people, Maori, the marginalised and dispossessed; and is currently polling at 2.3%, enough to get Harawira, Harre, and Sykes in on a progressive policy platform. Reportedly at the 2014 National Party conference, Attorney General Chris Finlayson stated his concern about the Internet MANA alliance:

“The fragmentation on the left hasn’t made the hydra weaker, only more unstable if it can force its way into power again.”

Finlayson pays Internet Mana a disarming compliment here. Internet Mana is strong, but unstable. Hone Harawira is an unstable partner, because he was unwilling to sacrifice the foreshore and seabed for crumbs from the table. Contrary to portrayals of Laila Harre as a pawn, Harre also has an unstable record, having walked from the Fifth Labour government over the occupation of Afghanistan. Instability may seem self-defeating in the short term, but it’s necessary in the long term.

For transformative politics, parliamentary representation is one tool in a wider strategy, not the main goal. Transformation is not just a matter of changing the government. It’s not even a matter of electing proven movement leaders to opposition. Transformation requires sustained independent struggle in every sector, an inclusive movement for economic and political sovereignty.

Under the Fifth Labour government, victories such as the $12 minimum wage and the abolition of youth rates were won through struggle by independent community groups and fighting unions. Democratic organisations of the people are necessary both for survival, and for the possibility of greater victories.

By entering a capitalist government, MANA would risk sacrificing this fighting independence for a seat at the table. Labour continues to rule out working with MANA, undermining their own limited shot at forming a government, because they recognise the threat Harawira and MANA represent to business as usual. In keeping with his democratic approach, Harawira has stated that any post-election deal would have to be approved by the membership.

As phrased by socialist commentator Giovanni Tiso, “wanting to kick the Tories out of government is one of the noblest of human feelings, and saying that it isn’t nearly enough, the most banal of statements. In the end we’re still left to face those different evils.”

For those who accept that a Labour-led government isn’t nearly enough, it’s a question of building people’s organisations and movements for the long haul. Fightback seeks to play a part in weaving the people into a new radical democratic body, which can chart a course beyond the two-party cycle that keeps us locked into capitalism.


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