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Speaker: TPP: Error Correction

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  • nzlemming,

    I must admit to curiousity in knowing the genesis to this "opinion piece". Smellie describes himself as "a Wellington-based journalist, and co-owner of Content Ltd, a journalism and content wholesaler" so I'd be interested in knowing who commissioned this piece.

    Waikanae • Since Nov 2006 • 2930 posts Report Reply

  • nzlemming,

    However, I'm not going to get into it with him on Twitter. He's right that it's too difficult to discuss complex issues there. But, if he's any sort of journalist, he should be able to figure out how to sign on to PAS to make his points.

    Waikanae • Since Nov 2006 • 2930 posts Report Reply

  • Stephen R, in reply to Bart Janssen,

    I have no doubt that given an excuse like the TPP that National would disband pharmac in second.

    That's not my fear. I think they know that Pharmac is generally well regarded by New Zealanders. What could screw Pharmac is rules requiring "Openness" of their criteria for funding, in their negotiations with Big Pharma, and allowing big pharma to appeal funding decision criteria.

    That would cripple Pharmacs ability to pressure pharmaceutical companies to get a better price, while not actually disbanding it.

    Wellington • Since Jul 2009 • 259 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz,

    Pattrick Smellie, Director, is a highly respected business journalist and co-founder of the BusinessDesk news service, which provides business news to all mainstream media outlets in New Zealand and the Australian Associated Press. Pattrick has worked on both sides of the media fence, as a press secretary to the then Minister of Finance, Roger Douglas, and for major corporate clients including Fonterra, Contact Energy, and The University of Auckland. He is a Harkness Fellow, former chairman of the Parliamentary Press Gallery, and was The Australian newspaper's first New Zealand correspondent.

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 5550 posts Report Reply

  • nzlemming, in reply to Stephen R,

    That’s not my fear. I think they know that Pharmac is generally well regarded by New Zealanders. What could screw Pharmac is rules requiring “Openness” of their criteria for funding, in their negotiations with Big Pharma, and allowing big pharma to appeal funding decision criteria.

    That would cripple Pharmacs ability to pressure pharmaceutical companies to get a better price, while not actually disbanding it.

    FYI Pharmac has recently had a major restructure of its management team. Staff are reportedly in shock as to which managers were let go and who got their jobs. I'm led to believe that none of the of the top 3 people with responsibility for and experience at managing the Schedule (which is the technical term for what you describe) were retained. #connectthedots

    Waikanae • Since Nov 2006 • 2930 posts Report Reply

  • Dave Lane, in reply to nzlemming,

    Some might be interested in this precedent: PMI (Philip Morris tobacco corporation) has sued the government of Uruguay for its anti-smoking legislation (health warnings must cover 80% of the packaging) under the auspices of the Switzerland-Uruguay Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT) at the World Bank’s International Center for Settlement of Investment Disputes...
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philip_Morris_v._Uruguay

    Christchurch • Since Feb 2014 • 2 posts Report Reply

  • B Jones, in reply to nzlemming,

    Keeping the background negotiations secret for four years is not the same as keeping the details of the agreement secret. The background's interesting but not enforceable, just like draft legislation isn't enforceable.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 976 posts Report Reply

  • B Jones,

    And also, countries can withdraw from treaties if they want. It's actually really hard for a government to do something that binds future governments.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 976 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to B Jones,

    But presumably the US corporations consulted at every turn will already know what is being withheld from everyone else for 4 years. Why is that right or good?

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19683 posts Report Reply

  • Jan Rivers,

    I too was concerned at the inaccuracies in the opinion piece, and the plain lack of research.

    Here are a few other points

    Pattrick’s allegation that people concerned about the legislation are saying the TPP is a done deal. It was in fact the Minister himself who gave the strong impression late last year that the negotiations would be heading towards closure early in the New Year 2014. Commentators including both Jane Kelsey and Gordon Campbell were much more circumspect. Gordon’s article in late 2013 summarised earlier articles and provided numerous reasons why the deal was far from complete. Jane Kelsey wrote an Herald oped as early March 2013 identifying the uphill battle facing the USA in pulling together such an enormous agreement when President Obama’s democratic congress members do not want to provide fast track powers.

    There is another important aspect to the lack of transparency. We are unaware of the domestic legislation that has possibly already been passed to bring New Zealand into alignment with the TPP’s provisions. Speculation about this might include the Fonterra trading in shares legislation, the GCSB and TICS legislation, legislation limiting the role of local government.( Interestingly the recent changes to shark-finning rules corresponded to an item in the leaked text for example) and so on but we will never know until the impacts hit. Under current government direction New Zealand is also becoming a signatory to international convention opening up government and local government tendering to full international competition which may be a likely precursor action. There has been little coverage of this but it is mentioned in a link: CTU briefing.

    He also takes a swipe at the Labour shadow cabinet, alleging internal disagreements but fails to mention that Labour unsuccessfully sought a parliamentary motion, seeking the release of the text before it is signed. Labour’s press release related to the motion said

    _“There may be benefits for New Zealand exporters in the agreement but without the release of the full text, we have no way of knowing their extent and nature”_

    _“The Government must also reveal whether or not the text makes it more likely New Zealand could be sued by multi-national corporations”. _

    Finally and this is in stark contrast to the TPP a sister EU/US trade negotiations (the TTIP) is currently taking place where 350 civil society representatives were involved in a recent round of the negotiations and the EU says it will release its draft investment chapter for consultation because of ‘unprecedented public concern’. Link: EU Commissioner Statement

    Since Apr 2011 • 18 posts Report Reply

  • Don Christie, in reply to Stephen R,

    The key thing that will cripple Pharmac is patent related extensions. Also allowing new patents if an existing drug has a new application.

    That would severely reduce the availability of generic drugs to NZers and drive the cost of drugs up to the sky.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1645 posts Report Reply

  • B Jones,

    I'm not arguing it's either, presuming it's happening. Perhaps they've seen a slice of something relevant to them. But if, say, fonterra did a presentation to the nz govt about what they'd like the TPP to look like, I bet they'd be unhappy if a copy showed up on nestle's desk the next day. Whatever is happening here, there are legitimate reasons in a number of circumstances for individuals and companies to deal with the government in privacy. That's why there are exemptions under the OIA for commercial negotiations and so on.

    I don't have a view on whether the tpp is being negotiated well or badly, but I don't think confidentiality at this stage is wrong in principle. If some non-govt interests have greater access to information and influence than others, that's potentially a problem. But it's hard to find the balance between informed decisionmaking and scrupulous disinterest.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 976 posts Report Reply

  • B Jones,

    We may be unaware as to whether a piece of legislation is consistent with the tpp, but we know that legislation exists and can decide whether we like it or not.

    I don't think a yes/no rubber stamp at the end of the process is an ideally consultative way to do things, but it's not unheard of or unique. I'm sure there are human rights examples that govts have signed up to without extensive consultation.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 976 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to B Jones,

    that's potentially a problem

    it certainly is. either everyone is outside the tent or everybody is inside it.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19683 posts Report Reply

  • Ianmac, in reply to nzlemming,

    FYI Pharmac has recently had a major restructure of its management team. Staff are reportedly in shock as to which managers were let go and who got their jobs. I’m led to believe that none of the of the top 3 people with responsibility for and experience at managing the Schedule (which is the technical term for what you describe) were retained. #connectthedots

    This seems to be the way that this Government works. Make quiet changes at the top and use the incomers to "modify" the organisation. ACC. NZNational Radio. This means that the population will not rebel because the changes are too subtle to react to.
    Pharmac is a proudly supported institution but by the time it has been "restructured" it will be too late. Slippery!

    Bleneim • Since Aug 2008 • 135 posts Report Reply

  • FletcherB, in reply to Stephen R,

    What could screw Pharmac is rules requiring “Openness” of their criteria for funding, in their negotiations with Big Pharma, and allowing big pharma to appeal funding decision criteria.

    So the people who are negotiating in secret, and insisting that it must remain secret... and that the public can't have a right to change it after negotiations finished .... are in fact (possibly?) negotiating rules about how (other) negotiations must be open and subject to appeal....

    Laugh? I nearly wet myself....

    West Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 887 posts Report Reply

  • Kumara Republic, in reply to Ianmac,

    This seems to be the way that this Government works. Make quiet changes at the top and use the incomers to "modify" the organisation. ACC. NZNational Radio. This means that the population will not rebel because the changes are too subtle to react to.
    Pharmac is a proudly supported institution but by the time it has been "restructured" it will be too late. Slippery!

    TL;DR: Entryism.

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 5416 posts Report Reply

  • Ianmac, in reply to Kumara Republic,

    Entryism. New word to me DeepRed but it seems to fit the National strategy. And how can it be combatted? How about a bit of Exitism?

    Bleneim • Since Aug 2008 • 135 posts Report Reply

  • Gordon Milne,

    The WTO should be the preferred model for free trader thinkers.

    The fact that the USA continues to arrange bilateral agreements right, left and centre just shows how anti free trade it actually is.

    NZ has not fared well with its open markets. Other countries have taken a more insular approach and seem to have fared far better than us.

    Christchurch • Since Feb 2014 • 1 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    The TPP is not a free trade agreement. Quite the opposite. Yet the current bunch of giggling lads we've elected will sign our future away for a pat on the head from uncle sam.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19683 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel,

    and we must regularly remind ourselves of
    just how excellent the US Justice System can be

    A former county judge from Pennsylvania has been sentenced to 28 years in federal prison for reportedly abusing the criminal justice system by illegally jailing thousands of innocent children for cash. Mark Ciavarella Jr. was recently found guilty of accepting $1 million in bribes from the builders of two private juvenile detention centers in Luzerne County, which profited heavily from the many false convictions that filled its cells with innocent kids.

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7887 posts Report Reply

  • Kumara Republic, in reply to Ianmac,

    Entryism. New word to me DeepRed but it seems to fit the National strategy. And how can it be combatted? How about a bit of Exitism?

    The Clark Govt managed to pull it off with Christine Rankin, even after she tried to take it to the courts.

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 5416 posts Report Reply

  • Stephen R, in reply to Ian Dalziel,

    and we must regularly remind ourselves of
    just how excellent the US Justice System can be

    That's one of the reasons that the idea of privately run prisons make me queasy. The other is the lobbying of governments by private prisons to increase sentences.

    It should never be the case that we lock people up just so businesses can make more profits.

    Wellington • Since Jul 2009 • 259 posts Report Reply

  • ChrisW, in reply to nzlemming,

    Genesis: Error Correction

    I must admit to curiousity in knowing the genesis to this "opinion piece". Smellie describes himself as ...

    I see Pattrick Smellie managed communications for Contact Energy a few years ago. So no doubt he was the electricity industry expert/ principal of BusinessDesk responsible for this crock on Genesis Energy
    carried last month by Scoop, NBR, TVNZ.
    He’s added his in-depth knowledge and research to re-frame a media release by Genesis as the SOE preparing itself for sale by reducing liabilities associated with its dependence on coal-fired generation at Huntly. Its use of coal is apparently way down -

    Its 2013 annual report shows that just 7.7 percent of its total electricity production of 13,057 Gigawatt hours came from coal, compared with 52.8 percent from the Tongariro and Tekapo hydro schemes, another 19.6 percent from both old and new gas-fired plant at Huntly, 13.6 percent from geothermal energy, and 4.8 percent from wind farms.

    Very odd figures I thought, so checked Genesis Energy’s 2012/13 annual report where at p.17 a table lists its total electricity generation for the year as 7212 GWh, and the breakdown by source, converted to percentage of total, is coal 31.3% (rather than 7.7), gas 37.9% (19.6), hydro 30.5% (52.8), wind 0.3% (4.8) and it has no geothermal (rather than 13.6%).

    Then at p.21 I find the source of Smellie’s odd figures, a table with percentages of New Zealand electricity generation by source, and for Genesis Energy’s electricity consumption by primary source, not in gigawatt-hours but oddly in gigajoules. This is a unit 3600 times smaller so 13,057 GJ rather than a surprising third of total NZ electricity production is actually very small, apparently for Genesis Energy’s own electricity consumption as perhaps in offices etc, on the assumption the primary source of that electricity matches the proportions of the overall national production rather than its own. This in the context of quarter-pai reporting its environmental footprint, under an “Environmental Management” heading.

    Rather than as described under the Scoop story linked above –

    BusinessDesk
    Independent, Trustworthy New Zealand Business News
    The Wellington-based BusinessDesk team of former Bloomberg Asian top editor Jonathan Underhill and Qantas Award-winning journalist and commentator Pattrick Smellie provides a daily news feed for a serious business audience.

    – I’d say this was the work of someone deeply ignorant of the NZ electricity generating industry, as well as a sloppy researcher.
    And that’s simple stuff compared with TPP negotiations!

    Gisborne • Since Apr 2009 • 851 posts Report Reply

  • nzlemming, in reply to ChrisW,

    I’d say this was the work of someone deeply ignorant of the NZ electricity generating industry, as well as a sloppy researcher.
    And that’s simple stuff compared with TPP negotiations!

    But quite typical of a wordsmith for hire.

    Waikanae • Since Nov 2006 • 2930 posts Report Reply

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