It's Our Future http://www.itsourfuture.org.nz Kiwi Voices on the TPPA Thu, 24 Jul 2014 06:11:41 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic? Labour and MANA http://www.itsourfuture.org.nz/rearranging-the-deck-chairs-on-the-titanic-labour-and-mana/ http://www.itsourfuture.org.nz/rearranging-the-deck-chairs-on-the-titanic-labour-and-mana/#comments Wed, 23 Jul 2014 17:08:24 +0000 http://www.itsourfuture.org.nz/?p=6657 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

http://fightback.org.nz/2014/07/24/rearranging-the-deck-chairs-on-the-titanic-the-labour-party-and-mana/

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.

ENDS

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iPredict 2014 Election Update #27: Nats back in ascendency http://www.itsourfuture.org.nz/ipredict-2014-election-update-27-nats-back-in-ascendency/ http://www.itsourfuture.org.nz/ipredict-2014-election-update-27-nats-back-in-ascendency/#comments Tue, 22 Jul 2014 14:50:30 +0000 http://www.itsourfuture.org.nz/?p=6655 Press Release – iPredict

Inflation and interest rate expectations fall ahead of OCR announcement tomorrow Forecast fiscal surplus again falls sharply, and growth marginally down Greens fall and Internet-Mana strengthens, as Sykes gets closer in Waiariki No feasible …IPREDICT LTD

2014 ELECTION UPDATE #27

Wednesday 23 July 2014

www.ipredict.co.nz

Key Points:

Inflation and interest rate expectations fall ahead of OCR announcement tomorrow

Forecast fiscal surplus again falls sharply, and growth marginally down

Greens fall and Internet-Mana strengthens, as Sykes gets closer in Waiariki

No feasible Labour-led government, even with Greens, NZ First, Internet-Mana and Maori Party

National/NZ First government only viable option, unless Maori Party or Conservatives win electorate seat

Parker re-emerges as Labour leadership contender

Palmerston North a dead heat

Commentary:

A sharp fall in the Green Party’s forecast party vote means there is no longer any feasible Labour-led government, according to this week’s snapshot of the combined wisdom of the 7000 registered traders on New Zealand’s online prediction market, iPredict. The Greens’ fall has been to Labour’s gain, but also Internet-Mana whose forecast party vote is up, as are Annette Sykes’ chances of winning Waiariki. The only viable government under iPredict’s current prices would be a National/NZ First arrangement, but other National-led options would open up if the Maori or Conservative parties won an electorate. Expectations for growth, the fiscal surplus, inflation and interest rates are all down. Palmerston North is neck and neck.

Economic Context

Growth expectations have slipped marginally this week. Growth in the June quarter is now expected to be 0.9% (down from 1.0% last week), 1.0% in the September quarter (steady) and 1.1% in the December quarter (steady). Forecast annual growth for 2014 has slipped marginally to 4.1%, from 4.2% last week.

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 improved marginally this week. The forecast deficit for the June quarter is now 2.9% of GDP (down from 3.0% last week), 3.7% in the September quarter (steady) and 4.0% in the December quarter (steady).

The probability of a fiscal surplus in 2014/15 has fallen sharply again this week, and is now just 64%, down from 76% last week, 84% the week before and 86% three weeks ago. The surplus forecast for 2014/15 is now just 0.31% of GDP, down from 0.37% last week, 0.42% two weeks ago and 0.43% three weeks ago. The forecast for the 2015/16 surplus is steady at 1.0% of GDP, as is the forecast surplus for 2016/17 at 2.0% of GDP. The opening forecast for the 2017/18 surplus is 2.4% of GDP.

Inflationary expectations have fallen this week, after Statistics New Zealand reported annual inflation was 1.6% in the year ended June, compared with iPredict’s forecast last week of 1.8%. Inflation continues to be forecast to remain below the Reserve Bank’s 2% target midpoint through 2014. Annual inflation to the end of the September quarter is expected to be 1.5% (down from 1.7% last week), and 1.7% in the December quarter (down from 1.8%).

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.

Interest rate expectations have also fallen this week. The market is forecasting a 75% probability that the Reserve Bank will increase the Official Cash Rate by a further 25 basis points at its next review tomorrow (down from 85% last week). Compared with the rate of 2.5% at the start of 2014, the market is pricing that the OCR will be up 94 basis points in July (down from 96 last week), 97 in September (down from 104), 105 in October(down from 115), 115 in December (down from 125), 120 in January 2015 (down from 130), 135 in March 2015 (down from 146), 144 in April 2015(new stocks) and 160 in June 2015 (new stocks).

Foreign Affairs & Trade

New Zealand’s chances of being elected to the UN Security Council for 2015-16 have slipped again to 30% (down from 43% last week). The probability Helen Clark will be appointed the next UN Secretary General is up to 29% from 14% last week. The probability New Zealand will sign aFree Trade Agreement with South Korea before 1 December 2014 is down to 16%, from 22% last week and from 26% the week before. The probability the US Congress will ratify the yet-to-be-signed Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement before 1 July 2015 is steady at 11%, but the probability of ratification by 1 July 2017 is down to 29%, from 35% last week. There is a 5% probability that Secretary of Foreign Affairs John Allen will depart from his role before September 2014 (steady).

Party Vote

All current party leaders, except for Maori Party co-leader Tariana Turia, are strongly expected to remain in their roles until nomination day with at least 95% probability. The party vote turnout is now expected to be 74.1% (down from 74.7% last week).

Of major parties, National is expected to win 45.3% of the party vote (up from 43.5% last week). Labour is also up, to 29.8% from 28.5% last week, but the Green Party is back down to 10.8%, from 12.8% last week.

Of smaller parties, NZ First’s expected party vote is down to 5.1%, from 5.6% last week. The Conservative Party has fallen again, to 3.6% (compared with 3.9% last week and 4.0% the week before). Act is down to 1.8% (from 2.0% last week) while UnitedFuture is down to to 0.4% (from 0.5% last week). Amongst other smaller parties, the Internet Mana alliance is back up to 2.2% (from 1.9% last week), the Maori Party is on 0.9% (steady), and the Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party is down to 0.2% (from 0.3% last week).

Electorate Contests

Act’s probability of winning at least one electorate seat is up to 84% (from 82% last week), and its expected electorate representation is back to 0.9 MPs, from 0.8 MPs last week. The market prices that its candidate David Seymour has an 85% probability of winning Epsom (up from 80% 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).

UnitedFuture has strengthened this week and now has an 83% probability of winning at least one seat (up from 79% last week) and its expected electorate MP representation is 0.8 MPs (steady). Its probability of winning Peter Dunne’s Ohariu electorate is 82% (up from 80% last week).

In the Maori electorates, Mana has an 83% probability of winning at least one seat (down from 85% last week) but its expected electorate representation is steady on 1.2 electorate MPs. The Maori Party has again recovered marginally but it remains in trouble. It now has a 48% probability of winning an electorate (up from 45% last week) and its expected electorate representation is up to 0.7 MPs, from 0.6 MPs last week.

The probability Mana leader Hone Harawira will win Te Tai Tokerau has slipped marginally to 82% (from 83% last week) but its candidate inWaiariki, Annette Sykes, is up to 43% probability (from 40% last week and 25% the week before). However, Maori Party Leader Te Ururoa Flavell is also up to 48% probability of winning the seat, from 43% last week. Labour is overwhelmingly favoured to win Te Tai Hauauru and has a 65% probability of winning Tamaki-Makaurau

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

The three most marginal seats, excluding those mentioned above, are Palmerston North, Port Hills and Waimakariri.

In Palmerston North, National’s Jono Naylor and Labour’s Ian Lees-Galloway are neck and neck, on 50% probability each.

In Port Hills, Labour’s Ruth Dyson has strengthened and now has a 59% probability of retaining her seat (up from 55% last week) from National’s challenger, Nuk Korako.

In Waimakariri, National’s Matthew Doocey is moving ahead and now has a 62% probability of beating Labour’s Clayton Cosgrove (up from 55% last week).

Election Result & Alternative Scenarios

Based on the party-vote and electorate forecasts above, Parliament would consist of: National 57 MPs (up from 55 last week), Labour 37 MPs (up from 36), the Greens 14 MPs (down from 16), NZ First 6 MPs (down from 7), Act 2 MPs (down from 3), Internet-Mana 3 MPs (up from 2) and UnitedFuture 1 MP (steady). Assuming the Maori Party did not win Waiariki, it would have no MPs (steady). Parliament would have 120 MPs and a government would be required to have the support of 61 MPs on confidence and supply.

Under this scenario, National, Act and UnitedFuture 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. The Greens’ fall means Labour would not be able to form a government even with all of the Greens, Internet-Mana and NZ First, with just a combined 60 seats.

Were the Maori Party to win Waiariki but the Conservative Party to miss out on East Coast Bays, Parliament would be the same except that the Greens would have only 13 MPs and the Maori Party 1 MP. This means a National/Act/UnitedFuture/Maori Party government could be formed, with 61 MPs, or a National/NZ First government with 63 MPs.

Given speculation National may negotiate with the Conservative Party over an electorate accommodation, iPredict has also projected a scenario based on the market’s party vote and electorate forecasts, but with the addition of the Conservative Party and Maori Party both winning electorates. Under that scenario, Parliament would consist of: National 55 MPs, Labour 36 MPs, Greens 13 MPs, NZ First 6 MPs, Conservatives 4 MPs, Act 2 MPs, Internet-Mana 3 MPs, UnitedFuture 1 MP and the Maori Party 1 MP. Parliament would have 121 MPs and a government would be required to have the support of 61 MPs on confidence and support. National would be able to govern with the support of both the Conservative and Act parties or with NZ FIrst.

Given the possible importance of NZ First, iPredict has a bundle of stocks forecasting NZ First’s decision-making should it hold the balance of power. This indicates a very tight situation. There is a 49% probability Mr Peters would support a National-led government (down from 50% last week) and a 2% probability he would give confidence and supply to neither National nor Labour (steady) which would favour the larger bloc, which the market indicates would be National-led. There is a 47% probability Mr Peters would support a Labour-led Government (steady)

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

Post Election Developments

David Cunliffe’s position as Labour leader remains bleak. There is now a 52% probability he will depart as leader by the end of 2014 (up from 51% last week), an 88% probability he will depart by the end of 2015 (steady), a 92% probability he will depart by the end of 2016 (steady) and a 99% probability he will depart by the end of 2017 (steady).

Grant Robertson continues to be strongly favoured to succeed Mr Cunliffe as next Labour leader, but is down to 65% probability from 70% last week. David Parker has returned to second-place on 19% probability (up from 5% last week), followed by Jacinda Ardern on 8% (down from 9%).

In National, John Key’s position continues to strengthen. He now has a 38% probability of departing as leader by the end of 2015 (down from 41% last week), a 59% probability of departing by the end of 2016 (down from 62%), and an 80% probability he will depart by the end of 2017 (down from 81%).

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%.

Labour’s chances of winning the 2017 election remain 52% (steady compared with last week).

Miscellaneous

iPredict Ltd is owned by Victoria University of Wellington. Details on the company and its stocks can be found at www.ipredict.co.nz. 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 11.09 am today.

ENDS

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G20 Beware: Trade Deals Threaten Health Care and Environment http://www.itsourfuture.org.nz/g20-beware-trade-deals-threaten-health-care-and-environment/ http://www.itsourfuture.org.nz/g20-beware-trade-deals-threaten-health-care-and-environment/#comments Mon, 21 Jul 2014 12:16:58 +0000 http://www.itsourfuture.org.nz/?p=6653 Press Release – AFTINET

The NSW Nurses and Midwives Association (NSWNMA) and the Australian Fair Trade & Investment Network Ltd (AFTINET) have called on the Federal Government to heed warnings over secret global trade deals, in particular, negotiations around the Trans-Pacific …WARNING: Trade deals threaten health care and the environment

Jul 19, 2014

The NSW Nurses and Midwives’ Association (NSWNMA) and the Australian Fair Trade & Investment Network Ltd (AFTINET) have called on the Federal Government to heed warnings over secret global trade deals, in particular, negotiations around the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).

As G20 Trade Ministers met in Sydney, ahead of the G20 Leaders’ Summit in Brisbane in November, representatives of the NSWNMA and AFTINET took to the streets on Saturday to highlight their concerns.

General Secretary of the NSWNMA, Brett Holmes, said it was clear the TPP agreement was not primarily about trade in goods and such an agreement could threaten the provision of essential public services in Australia, including public health.

“Our government has been negotiating a trade deal amongst the 12 Pacific Rim countries for several years, but it is becoming more apparent that the TPP negotiations are less about free trade and more about setting the agenda for multi-national corporations,” Mr Holmes said.

“It is bad enough these negotiations are happening behind closed doors with no community input but what is more alarming is the agenda of global corporations who want changes to our domestic laws to suit their own interests, regardless of the impact it may have on the health of Australians.”

AFTINET Convener, Dr Patricia Ranald, said that limited public information and leaked documents confirmed an agenda was being driven by the United States trade negotiators to benefit global corporations. The underlying agenda had the potential to result in:
• higher prices for medicines, by attacking Australia’s Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme;
• less Australian content on TV;
• limited workers’ rights;
• restricted environmental laws; and
• the ability to sue Australian governments if domestic laws impede corporate investments.

“The Australian Government should resist US demands for changes to Australian laws on access to medicines, Australian media content and other issues which suit the interests of US corporations, but would prevent governments from legislating to protect the public interest,” Dr Ranald said.

“US corporations also want special rights for foreign investors to sue governments in international tribunals if domestic laws or policies can be claimed to ‘harm’ their investment. In contrast to these extra rights for corporations, there is no agreement about including enforceable workers’ rights and environmental standards in the agreement.”

During an interactive street theatre performance at Circular Quay, the NSWNMA and AFTINET called on community members to lobby federal Minister for Trade and Investment, Andrew Robb, and urge him to oppose the corporate agenda of the TPP and to release the text for public and Parliamentary debate before any decision to sign it.

The unions and community groups indicated they would continue efforts to put pressure on the Federal Government to promote fair trade over the TPP negotiations, in the lead up to the G20 Leaders’ Summit later in the year.

ENDS

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TPP risks a weaker global trading system, says ex-WTO head http://www.itsourfuture.org.nz/tpp-risks-a-weaker-global-trading-system-says-ex-wto-head/ http://www.itsourfuture.org.nz/tpp-risks-a-weaker-global-trading-system-says-ex-wto-head/#comments Sun, 20 Jul 2014 12:59:42 +0000 http://www.itsourfuture.org.nz/?p=6649 Article – BusinessDesk

July 21 (BusinessDesk) – The Trans-Pacific Partnership is a step backwards to the days before the World Trade Organisation when the the US and Europe controlled the global trading system to the detriment of developing economies, says a former director-general …

TPP risks a weaker global trading system, says ex-WTO head

By Pattrick Smellie

July 21 (BusinessDesk) – The Trans-Pacific Partnership is a step backwards to the days before the World Trade Organisation when the the US and Europe controlled the global trading system to the detriment of developing economies, says a former director-general of the WTO, Supachai Panitchpakdi of Thailand.

In New Zealand for a meeting of the honorary advisers to the Asia-New Zealand Foundation, Supachai told BusinessDesk in an interview that Asian economies had more to gain by pursuing the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), which includes China and India but not the US, than TPP, which he described as a “US-centric” trade deal.

New Zealand is one of three countries that initiated the TPP concept and has committed substantial resources to its negotiation, but it only gained momentum once the US became a member of the 12-country grouping seeking a new set of trade rules for an Asia-Pacific trade bloc. The US and Europe are also negotiating a TPP-style deal, known as TTIP (Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership).

“TTIP amd TTP together could drive the world back into the old days before the WTO was conceived, a world trading system predominated by major trading nations, which was something I thought we tried to adjust with the more democratic participation of membership of the WTO,” said Supachai, who was director-general of the WTO from 2002 to 2005, immediately after former New Zealand prime minister Mike Moore.

New Zealand belongs to both TPP and RCEP, which was initiated in 2012, and is part of the four year-old Association of South-East Asian Nations Free Trade Area (AFTA), most of whose members are involved in both TTP and RCEP.

“For me, the priority should be for Asia to move in the direction of RCEP,” said Supachai. “If there should be a need for the US to join in or others, it should be in the context of RCEP.”

As secretary-general of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) between 2005 and 2013, Supachai also oversaw analysis of the North American Free Trade Agreement, which found that Mexico had done poorly from the deal while the developed economies in NAFTA – the US and Canada – had benefited.

“At UNCTAD, we pointed out that for a developing country that joins a regional agreement with major, much more advanced economies, they are not easily going to gain much.”

That risk existed with TPP, which would be “mainly driven by the major players of the world trade system to set up very forward-looking, very avant garde” rules in areas that less developed economies would struggle to accommodate. These included intellectual property restrictions that could thwart the availability of affordable universal healthcare and rules requiring privatisation of state-owned enterprises with certain timeframes.

TPP negotiations have stalled for more than a year on such sticking points.

“TPP is US-centric,” said Supachai. “It leaves the question as to what would the rest of the membership of the TPP be able to contribute fairly to the outcome? My general basic principle on the two so-called mega-deals (TPP and TTIP) is that we have to be a bit cautious about the way we are practicing regionalism these days. I’m open-minded, but regionalism should ultimately prove to strengthen the multi-lateral processes.”

Regional trade deals have become increasingly commonly pursued as the global process overseen by the WTO has failed over the last 13 years of the so-called “Doha Round” negotiations to produce a new global trade agreement.

The RCEP initiative was better suited to bolstering Asian economies’ growing role in the world economy, said Supachai.

“RCEP is more ASEAN-centric and, for better or worse, ASEAN has a good record of expanding trade. Intra-ASEAN trade is now 53 to 54 percent,” he said. “This is only lower than Europe, which is 70 to 80 percent.”

New trade agreements needed to be favourable to Asia if only because of the region’s status as a “global public good.”

“We are the ones now generating more than half of world growth and 67 percent of world trade and the area has been excessively accumulating financial reserves,” said Supachai. “That’s why RCEP is important. TPP comes in between.”

(BusinessDesk)

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TPP, LGNZ Election Manifesto, Public Interest http://www.itsourfuture.org.nz/tpp-lgnz-election-manifesto-public-interest/ http://www.itsourfuture.org.nz/tpp-lgnz-election-manifesto-public-interest/#comments Sat, 19 Jul 2014 11:38:13 +0000 http://www.itsourfuture.org.nz/?p=6646 Press Release – LGNZ

The Renewables of Motueka, and Nelson TPP Action have been active lobbying local government authorities and councils in respect to the public interest on free trade and investment treaties including TPP (Transpacific Partnership).Press Statement 19 July 2014

TPP, LGNZ Election Manifesto, Public Interest, NZ Sovereignty.

The Renewables of Motueka, and Nelson TPP Action have been active lobbying local government authorities and councils in respect to the public interest on free trade and investment treaties including TPP (Transpacific Partnership).

We have requested that LGNZ (Local Government New Zealand) include TPP in their election manifesto being presented to political parties at the upcoming LGNZ Conference in Nelson 20-22 July 2014 at the Rutherford Hotel.

We state in our request:

Why TPP is a vitally important issue?

TPP addresses both trade issues and domestic regulatory concerns and standards. Most of the 29 chapters in TPP are about non-trade matters. Each of these is a claim made on behalf of corporate and trade interests that we Kiwis alter our standards to provide opportunities to profit.

Transnational corporations and trade interests have enormous influence over the USA trade negotiating position and use that to gain changes to our domestic law and international law and conventions that have application in New Zealand. Domestic trade interests also feature heavily in their lobby of our NZ negotiating position.

This treaty is being negotiated in secret. What we know of it comes from leaks. We are told that people will be consulted on these potentially dramatic changes to our domestic laws only after the government has concluded the deal and signed the treaty. Parliament cannot block its ratification. We are the ones who will be required to pay the increased prices that flow for products and services.

Why TPP is a local government issue:

Local government will be significantly affected by a TPP treaty. Several local councils have passed resolutions which express these concerns. Many Councils are now calling on Local Government NZ to take a stand on TPP arising from The Renewables’ having placed the TPP issue before Councils in our 20th March open letter to all NZ Local Government and Territorial Authorities.

LGNZ provides a strong voice for local Government on issues which are both national and local. All national issues have a local effect.

Local Government will face the rising costs associated with reforms, through free trade and investment agreements such as TPP, for reasons set out below. These they will seek to pass onto ratepayers through increased rates and taxes. LGNZ recognises some of these impacts on its constituents and is taking steps to review methods of funding local and regional Councils; http://www.lgnz.co.nz/home/our-work/our-policy-priorities/3.-sustainable-funding/

The TPP negotiating parties seek changes to our domestic standards that allow transnational corporations greater access to our domestic markets, resources and skills base. They seek to constrain the capacity of governments to act in the public interest, and lay them open to costly offshore litigation.

TPP as advanced by USA trade, and domestic trade interests promotes corporate and private interest as national interest. This is false, as government ought be concerning itself with people’s welfare and the community well-being.

It is in every Kiwi’s interests that any free trade or investment agreements entered into by New Zealand governments upholds the public interest. We assert that public interest is the main criteria when assessing national interest.

We will have a public presence at the Rutherford Hotel on Tuesday 22nd July from 8:30am to remind both Local Government and the political parties – who is their constituents. Our interests must be protected in free trade and investment treaties.

We welcome everyone to attend our peaceful gathering.

Greg Rzesniowiecki, Renewables.

Graeme O’Brien, Nelson TPP Action.

Link to request to include TPP in LGNZ election manifesto;

http://gregfullmoon.blogspot.co.nz/2014/07/request-to-lgnz-from-renewables1-and.html

ENDS

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Sea-level rise threatens Pacific Islands claim to sea http://www.itsourfuture.org.nz/sea-level-rise-threatens-pacific-islands-claim-to-sea/ http://www.itsourfuture.org.nz/sea-level-rise-threatens-pacific-islands-claim-to-sea/#comments Wed, 16 Jul 2014 13:30:29 +0000 http://www.itsourfuture.org.nz/?p=6644 Press Release – Food and Agriculture Organisation

Nadi, Fiji: Climate change-induced sea-level rise in the world’s small island nations continues to be the most pressing threat to their environment and socio-economic development with annual losses estimated in the billions of dollars due to increased …Sea-level rise threatens Pacific islands claim to sea areas’ and marine resources

15 July 2014

Nadi, Fiji: Climate change-induced sea-level rise in the world’s small island nations continues to be the most pressing threat to their environment and socio-economic development with annual losses estimated in the billions of dollars due to increased vulnerability. Small island nations vulnerability to climate change and sea-level rise is magnified due to their relatively small land masses, population concentrations, and high dependence on coastal ecosystems for food, livelihood, security and protection against extreme events. Among the threats are increased flooding, shoreline erosion, ocean acidification, warmer sea and land temperature, and damage to infrastructure from extreme weather events.

But the adverse impacts of climate change on Small Island Developing States (SIDS) extends beyond the loss of livelihoods and land, it also threatens the sea areas belonging to these islands and within them, the vast wealth of fisheries resources including highly migratory species such as These issues will be discussed at the regional workshop on strategies and capacity building in Pacific SIDS to address climate change impacts on jurisdictional claims, in Nadi, Fiji from 16 to 18 July 2014. The workshop is held in partnership with the Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency and will bring together government officers from the region to discuss various national, regional, and global options for minimizing risks associated with jurisdictional claims.

Climate change and sea level rise are expected to have a dramatic impact on the abundance and distribution of fisheries resources within areas under national jurisdiction as well as on the high seas said Mr. Frank Chopin from FAOs fishing operations and technology service in Rome, Italy. “Having well defined stable boundaries allows a country to monitor and control fisheries right up to the extent of their boundaries and reducing the chance for illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing from taking place.

In addition to resource productivity, sea level rise may also have a profound effect on the location of boundaries which define the territorial seas and Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZs) under national jurisdiction and which form the basis for controlling fishing effort said Mr. Blaise Kuemlangan, Chief of FAO’s Development Law Service. Points (baselines) used to demarcate territorial seas and which are subsequently used to delineate EEZs may become submerged. “As a consequence, shifting baselines may result in reduced territorial seas and even a State’s area of exclusive economic zone” he said.

Dr. Martin Tsamenyi, a renowned international law expert and FAO Consultant added that in worst case scenarios for some small island States in the Pacific, a whole state may be submerged and the whole population re-located.

Dr. Tsamenyi said that many island states in the pacific have established their land boundaries using points on low lying shorelines, reefs and atolls many of which are highly vulnerable to even small changes in sea level rise.

The workshop will also discuss implications to the Pacific SIDS from legal, policy and institutional perspectives, current and future maritime boundary situations and the related socio-economic implications of climate change. Mr. Gavin Wall, Coordinator for the FAO Sub Regional Office for the Pacific Islands said that, “For most of the Pacific Small Island Developing States (SIDS), the continuing validity of their marine jurisdictional claims is necessary to ensure various economic activities and continued access to natural resources that provide revenue and support the livelihoods of their peoples,”.

“In recognising this need, FAO provided funding and technical support to enable Pacific SIDS and FFA member countries to meet in Fiji this week to exchange information and views and with the support of international experts, work towards development of a regional strategy for the preservation of jurisdictional claims”, Mr. Wall said.

ENDS

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Fewer medicines subsidised in New Zealand than Australia http://www.itsourfuture.org.nz/fewer-medicines-subsidised-in-new-zealand-than-australia/ http://www.itsourfuture.org.nz/fewer-medicines-subsidised-in-new-zealand-than-australia/#comments Mon, 14 Jul 2014 15:09:06 +0000 http://www.itsourfuture.org.nz/?p=6638 Press Release – Auckland University

New Zealand has economical medicines policies, but subsidises fewer medicines and fewer new drugs, compared to Australia and other countries.15th July 2014
Fewer medicines subsidised in New Zealand than Australia

New Zealand has economical medicines policies, but subsidises fewer medicines and fewer new drugs, compared to Australia and other countries.
This was highlighted in a recent editorial on the differences in Australian and New Zealand medicines funding policies, published in Australian Prescriber.

Editorial lead author, Dr Zaheer-Ud-Din Babar from the University of Auckland’s School of Pharmacy, says that Australia and New Zealand are well known internationally for having implemented national medicines policies that aim for equitable access to cost-effective and safe medicines.

“But each country adopted a different approach to this,” he says. “In 2011, Australia spent more than double what New Zealand spent on pharmaceuticals per capita.”

Australia spent US$587 (around 22 percent more than the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) average) while New Zealand spent US$288 (around 40 percent less than the OECD average).

A 2011–12 analysis conducted by Australian Researchers showed that, of the 73 individual drug-dose combinations that are prescribed the most often or account for the most expenditure in Australia, Australian prices were, on average, eight times higher than New Zealand’s.

The analysis stated that if Australia adopted New Zealand’s prices for 62 identical drug-dose combinations which are available in both countries, their total Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) expenditure would be reduced by $Au1.1 billion a year.

“New Zealand is able to achieve savings because of a combination of programme budgeting, tough price negotiations and different procurement mechanisms, such as competitive tendering,” says Dr Babar.

“Some of these policies have been emulated with success in other countries, but the New Zealand policies are criticised because fewer medicines, including new drugs, are subsidised compared to other countries.”

“In another study comparing the funding of cancer drugs in 13 countries or regions, New Zealand was the country that reimbursed the fewest indications,” he says. These differences are partly due to PHARMAC operating on a capped budget.

“Pharmac prioritises new drugs against each other and against access to all medicines. In Australia, the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee (PBAC) also considers the cost-effectiveness of new drugs compared with current standard of care, but has no capped budget,” says Dr Barbar.

In Australia, the decision to subsidise an item has to be determined by the Minister for Health if the nett cost to the Pharmaceutical Benefit Scheme is greater than $20 million per year.

Australia has introduced new pricing policies that involve price disclosure by manufacturers to the government, including incentives and discounts to pharmacies. Australian consumers support accelerating these price cuts, but there are concerns that they will affect the profitability of pharmacies.

“Only a minority of new drugs provides a definite therapeutic advantage over standard treatments,” says Dr Babar.

Most of the drugs funded in Australia and not in New Zealand were additions to an existing therapeutic class rather than new drugs providing important therapeutic benefits.

“New Zealand is also less likely to fund ‘me too’ products,” he says. “There is a dearth of research on whether or not the lack of access to some innovative medicines in New Zealand, or switching patients to different brands of medicines, adversely affects patient outcomes.”

“On the other hand, New Zealanders may have access to some forms of treatment that are not funded in Australia,” says Dr Barbar.

For example, insulin pumps are subsidised for all patients with type 1 diabetes in New Zealand, but only in children and adolescents under 18 years in Australia.

There are benefits if unnecessary new drugs are not funded and the savings are allocated to more effective interventions.

“Policy challenges ahead include growth in medicines expenditure, and consumer expectations that expensive specialised medicines will be funded by the government,” he says.

“In both countries, concerns have been expressed that the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement may affect access to affordable medicines by delaying the availability of generic medicines and by changing the funding policies.”

There is a move to harmonise the regulation of medicines in Australia and New Zealand with the creation of an Australia New Zealand Therapeutic Products Agency, but there are no current plans for harmonising funding models.

Until now there has been limited public debate on what the priorities are for Australia and New Zealand, including which decision criteria should be used to fund new drugs and at what price, says Dr Babar

“In New Zealand there are concerns about access to high cost drugs, red tape in accessing unlisted treatments for individual patients, and equitable access for Maori and Pacific Island people,” he says.

“Public input and consumer engagement in debates around medicines policies and priorities are essential for ensuring the continuous commitment of health authorities to community values and maintaining public confidence in government decision-making processes.”

“It is important that this debate is not driven by the pharmaceutical industry, which is mostly motivated by ensuring high profits for its new drugs whatever their effectiveness.”

Dr Babar says Australian and New Zealand citizens need to be independently informed about the delicate balance between equity and cost-effectiveness and between individual and societal needs when funding new drugs.

“We need an open informed public debate on the choices that have to be made to ensure equitable and sustainable access to new drugs in the future.”

ENDS

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ipredict Election Update #26 http://www.itsourfuture.org.nz/ipredict-election-update-26/ http://www.itsourfuture.org.nz/ipredict-election-update-26/#comments Sun, 13 Jul 2014 15:42:44 +0000 http://www.itsourfuture.org.nz/?p=6633 Press Release – iPredict

Labours probability of leading next government continues to recover as Greens make further gainsipredict Ltd

2014 Election Update #26

Monday 14 July 2014

www.ipredict.co.nz
Key Points:

Labour’s probability of leading next government continues to recover as Greens make further gains

• Fiscal outlook weakens and inflationary expectations edge up

• NZ’s Security Council odds improve

Tamaki-Makaurau back in play

• GDP stocks for March 2015, June 2015, September 2015 and December 2015 quarters now open

• Inflation stocks for March 2015, June 2015, September 2015 and December 2015 quarters now open

Commentary:

The Green Party continues to make gains, according to the combined wisdom of iPredict’s 7000 registered traders, helping Labour to continue to improve its chances of leading the next government. At the same time, New Zealand’s fiscal outlook has weakened somewhat, inflationary expectations have edged up and the country’s chances of winning a place on the UN Security Council have improved. Tamaki-Makaurau, which has looked safe for Labour for most of the year, is again in play at this year’s general election, to be held on 20 September.

Economic Context

Growth expectations remain largely unchanged this week. Growth in the June quarter is still expected to be 1.0% (steady compared with last week), 1.0% in the September quarter (steady) and 1.1% in the December quarter (steady). Forecast annual growth for 2014 has increased marginally to 4.2% (up from 4.1% last week).

Stocks forecasting growth in the March 2015, June 2015, September 2015 and December 2015 quarters are now open for trading.

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 are also unchanged this week. The forecast deficit for the June quarter is now 3.0% (steady compared with last week), 3.7% in the September quarter (steady) and 4.0% in the December quarter(steady).

The probability of a fiscal surplus in 2014/15 has slipped again this week, and is now 76%, compared with 84% last week and 86% the week before. The surplus forecast for 2014/15 is now 0.37% of GDP, down from 0.42% last week and 0.43% the week before. The forecast for the 2015/16 surplus is steady at 1.0% of GDP, as is the forecast surplus for 2016/17 at 2.0% of GDP. The opening forecast for the 2017/18 surplus is 2.4% of GDP.

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

Stocks forecasting inflation in the March 2015, June 2015, September 2015 and December 2015 quarters are now open for trading.

Interest rate expectations are broadly stable this week. The market is forecasting an 85% probability that the Reserve Bank will increase the Official Cash Rate by a further 25 basis points at its next review on 24 July (up from 79% last week). Compared with the rate of 2.5% at the start of 2014, the market is pricing that the OCR will be up 96 basis points in July (up from 95 last week), 104 in September (up from 103), 115 in October (up from 114), 125 in December (up from 124), 130 in January 2015 (steady) and 146 in March 2015 (steady).

Stocks forecasting OCR decisions in April 2015 and June 2015 are now open for trading.

Foreign Affairs & Trade

New Zealand’s chances of being elected to the UN Security Council for 2015-16 have recovered significantly to 43% (up from 26% last week and 23% the week before). The probability Helen Clark will be appointed the next UN Secretary General is down to 14% from 21% the last two weeks. The probability New Zealand will sign a Free Trade Agreement with South Korea before 1 December 2014 is down to 22% from 26% last week. The probability the US Congress will ratify the yet-to-be-signed Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement before 1 July 2015 is steady at 11%, as is the probability of ratification by 1 July 2017 at 35%. There is a 5% probability that Secretary of Foreign Affairs John Allen will depart from his role before September 2014 (up from 0% last week).

Party Vote

All current party leaders, except for Maori Party co-leader Tariana Turia, are strongly expected to remain in their roles until nomination day with at least 95% probability. The party vote turnout is now expected to be 74.7% (up from 74.1% last week) and above the 74.2% turnout in 2011.

Of major parties, National is expected to win 43.5% of the party vote (down from 44.1% last week). Labour is on 28.5% (down from 28.6% last week) but the Green Party is up to 12.8%, from 12.1% last week, 11.5% the week before and 10.3% three weeks ago.

Of smaller parties, NZ First’s expected party vote is up to 5.6% from 5.2% last week. The Conservative Party has slipped slightly to 3.9% (from 4.0% last week) and is still short of the 5% threshold required for parliamentary representation unless it wins an electorate seat. Act is down to 2.0% (from 2.1% last week) while UnitedFuture is up to 0.5% (from 0.4% last week). Amongst other smaller parties, the Internet Mana alliance is down to 1.9% (from 2.1% last week), theMaori Party is on 0.9% (steady), and the Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party is on 0.3% (steady).

Electorate Contests

Act’s probability of winning at least one electorate seat is 82%, up from 81% last week, and its expected electorate representation is down to 0.8 MPs, from 0.9 MPs last week. The market continues to price that its candidate David Seymour has an 80% probability of winning Epsom (steady compared with last week).

The Conservative Party’s probability of winning at least one seat has fallen back to 35% (from 39% last week), but its expected electorate representation is steady on 0.4 MPs. The Conservatives are not expected to win any specific electorate and leader Colin Craig has 33% probability of winning in East Coast Bays against Murray McCully (down from 35% last week).

UnitedFuture continues to have a 79% probability of winning at least one seat (steady compared with last week) and its expected electorate MP representation is 0.8 MPs (also steady). However, its probability of winning Peter Dunne’sOhariu electorate is priced at 80% (up from 77% last week).

In the Maori electorates, Mana continues to have an 85% probability of winning at least one seat (steady compared with last week) and its expected electorate representation is up to 1.2 electorate MPs, from 1.0 MPs last week. The Maori Party has recovered marginally but it remains in serious trouble. It now has a 45% probability of winning an electorate (up from 43% last week) and its expected electorate representation is up to 0.6 MPs, from 0.5 MPs last week.

The probability Mana leader Hone Harawira will win Te Tai Tokerau is now 83% (down from 85% last week) but its candidate in Waiariki, Annette Sykes, is back to 40% (from 25% last week and 33% the week before). Maori Party Leader Te Ururoa Flavell now has just a 43% probability of winning the seat, down from 45% last week. The probability the Maori Party’s Chris McKenzie will retain Tariana Turia’s Te Tai Hauauru electorate for the party is now down to 10%, from 11% last week, 13% the week before and 17% three weeks ago. Labour is favoured to win with 90% probability.

However, Pita Sharples’ Tamaki-Makaurau electorate may be back in play, having looked safe for Labour most of the year. Labour’s Peeni Henare now has just a 50% probability of winning the seat, ahead of the Maori Party’s Rangi McLean on 31% and Mana on 18%.

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

The three most marginal seats, excluding those mentioned above, are Port Hills, Waimakariri and Palmerston North.

In Port Hills, Labour’s Ruth Dyson now has a 55% probability of retaining her seat (down from 60% last week) from National’s challenger, Nuk Korako (down from 60% last week).

In Waimakariri, National’s Matthew Doocey now has a 55% probability of beating Labour’s Clayton Cosgrove (up from 53% last week).

In Palmerston North, National’s Jono Naylor now has a 57% probability of beating Labour’s Ian Lees-Galloway (up from 50% last week)

Election Result & Alternative Scenarios

Based on the party-vote and electorate forecasts above, Parliament would consist of: National 55 MPs (steady compared with last week), Labour 36 MPs (steady), the Greens 16 MPs (up from 15), NZ First 7 MPs (steady), Act 3 MPs (steady), Internet-Mana 2 MPs (down from 3) and UnitedFuture 1 MP (steady). Assuming the Maori Party did not win Waiariki, it would have no MPs (steady). Parliament would have 120 MPs and a government would be required to have the support of 61 MPs on confidence and supply.

Under this scenario, National, Act and UnitedFuture would have only 59 seats and could not govern. National could govern with the support of NZ First with whom it would hold 62 seats. However, Labour would also be able to form a government with the Greens, Internet-Mana and NZ First, with 61 seats.

NZ First would therefore hold the balance of power and be in a position to choose whether New Zealand had a National- or Labour-led government.

Were the Maori Party to win Waiariki but the Conservative Party to miss out on East Coast Bays, Parliament would be the same except that National would have only 54 MPs and the Maori Party 1. Again, neither National nor Labour could form a government without the support of NZ First.

Given speculation National may negotiate with the Conservative Party over an electorate accommodation, iPredict has also projected a scenario based on the market’s party vote and electorate forecasts, but with the addition of the Conservative Party and Maori Party both winning electorates. Under that scenario, Parliament would consist of: National 53 MPs, Labour 34 MPs, Greens 15 MPs, NZ First 7 MPs, Conservatives 5 MPs, Act 2 MPs, Internet Mana 2 MPs, UnitedFuture 1 MP and the Maori Party 1 MP. Parliament would have 120 MPs and a government would be required to have the support of 61 MPs on confidence and support. National would be able to govern with the support of both the Conservative and Act parties and one or both of UnitedFuture and the Maori Party.

Given the likely importance of NZ First, iPredict has a bundle of stocks forecasting NZ First’s decision-making should it hold the balance of power. This indicates a very tight situation. There is a 50% probability Mr Peters would support a National-led government (down from 56% last week) and a 2% probability he would give confidence and supply to neither National nor Labour (down from 2%) which would favour the larger bloc which the market indicates would be National-led. There is a 47% probability Mr Peters would support a Labour-led Government, up from 39% probability last week.

Overall, National now has a 78% probability of leading the next government, down from 80% last week and 81% the week before.

Post Election Developments

David Cunliffe’s position as Labour leader remains bleak. There is now a 51% probability he will depart as leader by the end of 2014 (up from 50% last week), an 88% probability he will depart by the end of 2015 (steady), a 92% probability he will depart by the end of 2016 (up from 91%), and a 99% probability he will depart by the end of 2017 (up from 98%).

Grant Robertson continues to be strongly favoured to succeed Mr Cunliffe. He has a 70% probability of being the next Labour leader (steady compared with last week), followed by Jacinda Ardern on 9% (steady), and David Parker and Andrew Little both on 5% probability (both steady).

In National, John Key’s position has improved marginally. He now has a 41% probability of departing as leader by the end of 2015 (down from 43% last week), a 62% probability of departing by the end of 2016 (down from 63%), and an 81% probability he will depart by the end of 2017 (steady).

Steven Joyce remains favoured to succeed Mr Key as National Party leader, and has a 45% probability (up from 42% last week), followed by Judith Collins on 17% probability (steady) and Simon Bridges on 8% (steady), and Paula Bennett and Bill English, both on 7%.

Labour’s chances of winning the 2017 election have improved to 52%, from 50% last week.

Miscellaneous

iPredict Ltd is owned by Victoria University of Wellington. Details on the company and its stocks can be found at www.ipredict.co.nz. 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 12.20 pm today.

ENDS

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Can Obama Achieve Checkmate for TPPA by November? http://www.itsourfuture.org.nz/can-obama-achieve-checkmate-for-tppa-by-november/ http://www.itsourfuture.org.nz/can-obama-achieve-checkmate-for-tppa-by-november/#comments Sun, 13 Jul 2014 10:37:25 +0000 http://www.itsourfuture.org.nz/?p=6631 Press Release – Professor Jane Kelsey

The most opaque round of talks on the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement to date ended in Ottawa yesterday. The odds of President Obama achieving his goal of a meaningful document by the APEC leaders summit in November hangs in the balance, according …13 July 2014

Can Obama Achieve Checkmate for TPPA by November?

‘The most opaque round of talks on the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement to date ended in Ottawa yesterday. The odds of President Obama achieving his goal of a meaningful document by the APEC leaders’ summit in November hangs in the balance’, according to Professor Jane Kelsey who has been in Ottawa to observe the talks.

The twelve countries have apparently begun brainstorming the November options.

‘At their most ambitious, the leaders could announce a political deal, but provide no text’, Professor Kelsey speculated. A similar ‘agreement in principle’ was announced for the Canada EU agreement known as CETA in October 2013. ‘There is still no final treaty, which makes it impossible to assess the real impacts.’

Everything hinges on a breakthrough in the US-Japan talks on agriculture, which resume in Washington on Monday. It is likely that bilateral discussions among the TPPA’s five main agriculture players will continue when their trade ministers convene for the G20 meeting in Sydney on 19 July.

‘While everyone is blaming Japan for holding out, the US is also insisting it will only make bilateral deals on agriculture, so it can limit what it offers to different countries, notably New Zealand on dairy’.

With no breakthrough on agriculture, the leaders could do little more than update their inflated ambitions from three years ago at APEC in Honolulu, Professor Kelsey observed.

‘Whether they downgrade those expectations to fit the reality that the US, Japan and Canada are not going to deliver comprehensive market access will largely depend on whether New Zealand is prepared to admit that publicly’, she said. ‘Australia has already accepted a TPPA-lite deal, and Canada would happily follow Japan’s lead.’

Even if the US and Japan strike a deal, it is unclear whether that would be announced before America’s November mid-term elections, or even shared with the other parties.

If they do not agree, or refuse to share the outcome, the rest of the talks may remain stalled. Professor Kelsey says that ‘New Zealand has apparently refused to make political trade-offs in other areas, such as intellectual property, without a result on dairy. That is Groser’s only real bargaining chip, but it is unclear how long he can maintain that position’.

Some of those issues remain far from resolved. The Ottawa round turned the heat up in areas seen to be lagging, notably the novel text on state-owned enterprises. Yet negotiators on other controversial issues, such as environment and the annex on ‘transparency in healthcare technology’ that targets Pharmac, have not met for several rounds – presumably because they lack a political mandate.

There is a report of further ‘informal’ rounds of negotiations in September and October, including a meeting of ministers. Even if these are confirmed, the details of when and where are likely to remain a state secret to shield them from even the current minimal level of scrutiny.

ENDS

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Gordon Campbell on TPP talks and the election in Afghanistan http://www.itsourfuture.org.nz/gordon-campbell-on-tpp-talks-and-the-election-in-afghanistan/ http://www.itsourfuture.org.nz/gordon-campbell-on-tpp-talks-and-the-election-in-afghanistan/#comments Thu, 10 Jul 2014 11:30:02 +0000 http://www.itsourfuture.org.nz/?p=6625 Column – Gordon Campbell

As negotiators gather in Ottawa this week for the latest round of talks on the Trans Pacific Partnership trade deal, the opposition to (a) the TPP deal itself and (b) the Trade Promotion Authority needed to pass it into US law is increasing within …

Gordon Campbell on this week’s TPP talks and the election meltdown in Afghanistan

by Gordon Campbell

As negotiators gather in Ottawa this week for the latest round of talks on the Trans Pacific Partnership trade deal, the opposition to (a) the TPP deal itself and (b) the Trade Promotion Authority needed to pass it into US law is increasing within the US Congress. This morning’s Washington Trade Daily reports that “several members of Congress said yesterday that a majority of the House oppose either one or both.”

Reportedly, four letters have been written by members of Congress to the White House warning against the non-transparent rules which will attempt to tie the hands of Congress when the legislation for the TPP and TPA come to the House floor. “The four letters include 190 separate House signatures – including 29 Republicans and 161 Democrats. Include a number of members now “sitting on the fence” on the issues, who are likely to vote against either or both measures and opponents will have a solid majority, commented Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn).

Those 161 (and counting) Democrats lining up in opposition to the TPP and TPA must be of concern to the Obama administration. The secrecy about what is on the negotiating table with the TPP is also hurting Obama, politically. “What it boils down to is that Congress is out of the picture,” added Rep. Louise Slaughter told the Washington Trade Daily:

Over the past two years, some two-dozen Congressional letters have gone to the Administration asking for more information on the TPP talks. Very few were ever answered or even acknowledged, WTD was told. Letters touch on several topics – the US Buy America law, currency manipulation, workers’ rights, access to medicines for poor countries, enforcement of environmental rules, human rights issues, “fast track”, intellectual property rights, financial regulations and food safety, among others.

Fears were expressed to WTD by Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Ore) that the TPP “framework agreement” being touted for completion by November will back away from commitments on environmental protection. In 2007, the Bush administration conceded – in the so called “May 10 agreement” – that all future US trade agreements would contain enforceable environmental protections. Given that the TPP talks include countries engaged in illegal logging and the ivory trade, the lack of enforceable measures against such trade will only heighten Congressional opposition.

On other TPP fronts: Chile’s new, centre left government has been consistently lukewarm at best, to the TPP. Last week, Chilean President Michelle Bachelet indicated that Chile wanted to ensure the TPP did not create new trade problems for Chile, which already had free trade deals with most of the countries involved. From the Washington Trade Daily, for June 30:

Speaking at the Brookings Institution, Ms. Bachelet said that having a high standard TPP is especially important to her country, because Chile already has trade agreements with the other 11 countries. But those standards must respect national interests….The 12 countries negotiating the TransPacific Partnership [she said] have not yet found the “exact point” where “everybody wins,”

As for Japan…the US and Japan are continuing to conduct their own bilateral trade talks in parallel with the TPP, and have reached their own agreement on tariff levels. Japan is still considering whether other TPP countries will enjoy the same provisions. In Ottawa, this morning’s Japan News (via Yomiuri Shimbun) says that agreement has been reached in Ottawa on two of what are only the least contentious areas – child labour and slavery labour standards, and quarantine standards.

Aiming to reach a basic accord by the end of this year, the nations involved intend to settle discussions in less contentious areas while postponing such difficult matters as reform of state-owned companies.

Postponed again. At this rate, the hopes expressed by President Barack Obama that “some kind of draft” for the TPP would be ready for the next APEC meeting in November looks – as usual – highly optimistic.

Bush Wars
Obama must be feeling a bit like the coach of the Brazilian football team. Only a few months out from the mid term elections, could the international news be any worse? The foreign policy narrative for Obama’s entire presidency has been framed around him being the guy who successfully ended the wars of George W. Bush. Yet instead of the secular Sunni tyranny of Saddam Hussein….Iraq is now collapsing into a Sunni theocracy run by fanatics too extreme to be allowed into al-Qaeda.

Meanwhile in Afghanistan, the presidential elections that were supposed to be the prelude to a final US withdrawal have also devolved into chaos. Abdullah Abdullah has cried fraud after his rival Ashraf Ghani – who came second to Abdullah in the first round of voting – was declared the winner of the run-off election. Abdullah’s angry followers have been urging him to set up a parallel government. This is the second time that Abdullah has been the victim of electoral fraud by the friends of the Karzai government in Kabul. In late 2009, Abdullah withdrew from the runoff election, citing his lack of faith in the Karzai government’s ability to hold a “fair and transparent” second election. There were well-substantiated claims of rigged ballots and systematic fraud on that occasion as well.

How bad is this? Pretty bad. The war in Afghanistan has cost thousands of US lives and caused the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Afghan soldiers and civilians. In 2012, the US reportedly spent over three times as much on Afghanistan as it did on Israel.

Afghanistan is heavily reliant on international funding and generous levels of support from the American government. In 2012, the American government dispersed about $10 billion dollars worth of economic and military aid to Afghanistan. To put this into perspective, the next highest disbursement was Israel with $3.1 billion. Over $2.5 billion of this aid was economic aid, with the rest being military. Afghanistan depends on American both for help with fighting the Taliban and funding national development projects.

If the United States were to withdrawal aid and military support, the central government would likely collapse. Right now, Afghanistan’s tax base is minuscule and American funding is necessary for funding day-to-day operations. With funding cut the government would no longer be able to pay its own bills and employees, and the military buffer keeping the Taliban away from Kabul would all but evaporate.

Secretary of State John Kerry is trying to placate and/or threaten Abdullah into not being such a sore loser. Abdullah has been told that an armed uprising against the election result or the declaration of a shadow government would not be tolerated by the US, which has threatened to turn off its funding if that happens. The last thing the US needs is for Afghanistan to unravel – like Iraq – along sectarian or tribal lines. Ashraf Ghani is a Pashtun, Abdullah is half Pashtun, half -Tajik. This time, Abdullah sounds as though he won’t back down. As many as 2.5 million fraudulent ballots are in dispute, and Abdullah is insisting that 11,000 polling stations must be investigated.

A grand coalition government in Kabul with a rotating presidency? Anyone keen on that?

High Timber’s Calling…
The 1930s and 1940s were the hey-day of The Sons of the Pioneers, but they were still turning up in big budget Hollywood movies (e.g. The Searchers) as late as the mid 1950s. The core of the group’s classic phase consisted of Bob Nolan, Tim Spencer and Leonard Slye – who changed his name, went solo and became famous as the cowboy singing star Roy Rogers. Nolan deserves to be more widely known, and not only for writing the group’s mega-hits “Cool Water” and “Tumbling Tumbleweeds.”

Nolan was a great singer and – arguably – there has been no greater poet of America’s open prairies. Move over, Walt Whitman. Nolan’s songs convey a yearning for communion with nature, out on the range on horseback. Both the tracks below are somewhat lesser known items in the group’s massive repertoire. “Timber Trail” was written by Tim Spencer in the mid to late 1940s and features some terrifically exuberant whistling. Nice finale, too. “Chant of the Wanderer” came out in 1941 – it was on the flipside of “Cool Water” – and Nolan was at the top of his form when he came up with these ecstatic lyrics:

Take a look at the sky where the whippoorwill thrills
And the mountains so high where the cataract spills
Take a look at the falls and the rippling rills
Hear the wanderlust call of the whispering hills
The rippling rills! The cataract spills! The whippoorwill thrills!
……Let me follow the trail where the buffalo roam
Let a silver cloud sail where the setting sun shone
Let the lobo wolf wail in a broken heart tone
Let it storm, let it gale, still the prairie’s my home
A broken heart tone! The setting sun shone! The buffalo roam!
Ahhh-oooh …The prairie’s my home….

ENDS

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