26 Jan 2016

Key: Govt 'winning the argument' on TPP

8:05 pm on 26 January 2016

Prime Minister John Key has staunchly defended New Zealand's intention to formally sign the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal.

Prime Minister John Key

Prime Minister John Key Photo: AFP

Mr Key talked about the deal during his first post-Cabinet briefing of the year this afternoon.

The 279-page National Interest Analysis, released by Trade Minister Todd McClay today, reiterated the deal would add $2.7 billion to GDP by 2030, mainly through the reduction of tariffs.

Last week, an analysis by TPP opponents labelled the gains as modest, and argued the potential benefits were exaggerated. It also said the analysis failed to account for the cost of the loss of sovereignty.

Opposition to the deal is mounting before a ceremonial signing of the TPP in Auckland on 4 February, with Maori expressing concerns about the TPP and the first of a series of public meetings against the deal being held in Auckland tonight.

But Mr Key today insisted the government was on the right side of public opinion with the TPP.

"I think we are winning the argument, actually, with the New Zealand public, who have seen for a long period of time that asking New Zealand businesses to compete with one hand tied behind their back in the biggest economy in the world, the United States, and the third largest, Japan, puts us at a disadvantaged position."

But Labour Party leader Andrew Little said New Zealand should not have to weigh up economic benefits against constitutional integrity.

Mr Little said the TPP undermined the sovereignty of Parliament by preventing a future government from banning foreign buyers from the housing market.

The Labour Party would defy parts of the deal, he said.

"We've been pretty clear what we won't support and we won't support anything that compromises the sovereign rights of New Zealand and the right of New Zealanders to have a Parliament and a political system that serves their interests and is accountable only to their interests."

Ratana church elders and Maori leaders have complained about the secrecy of the trade deal and want its signing to be delayed.

Anti-TTP protests at last week's Ratana church celebrations. Photo: RNZ / Leigh McLachlan

Waitangi Marae elder Kingi Taurua has said if the government signed the controversial trade deal the marae should close its gates to Mr Key.

Mr Key said he intended to go to the marae on 5 February.

"Every year, there's always been a call for me not to be able to go, or some sort of protest. But I'm not going to gatecrash the place, in the end, if the governing body of the marae say they don't want me there, then I won't be there."

Mr Key said he was more than happy to answer questions on the trade deal at Waitangi.

Waitangi Festival organiser Pita Paraone said the Crown should be welcome. He said Ratana leaders at the church's annual celebrations had shown it was possible to hold a dignified powhiri for the Crown while still making a strong protest against the TPP, and Waitangi elders should follow suit.

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