Restless in Wellington: two protests today

Brash

Two protests intersected today at Parliament grounds: one demanding that the government release the text of the secret Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement, and the other, demanding action on child poverty.

The TPPA protest started in Midland Park where organisers sparred with Don Brash who claimed that the secrecy was necessary when negotiating such agreements. He seemed to think that the people of the 11 countries who will be affected by the TPPA should have no right to know what the governments in their respective countries are signing up to. When challenged about the removal of all capital controls, Brash was totally ignorant as to the provisions proposed in the TPPA despite this being one of the leaked chapters in the TPPA - and central to Brash's job as reserve bank governor for some 14 years.

Negotiations on the TPPA finish in Auckland today, but another round will undoubtedly be scheduled for early in the new year. US President Obama has indicated a strong desire to get the TPPA negotiations finished by late next year - and John Key will be keen to make a deal.

The TPPA protest continued on to parliament where it merged with the Child Poverty Action Group's barefoot protest. The CPAG was drawing attention to the just released report and set of recommendations from the Children's commissioner about how to solve and mitigate child poverty. Dr Nicky Taylor, speaking at the demonstration, said that children were the most deprived group in our society and that was a choice that New Zealand society was making - not some intractable problem that can't be solved. Approximately 270,000 New Zealand children live in poverty.

The report is here.

A repeated theme among the people today was making the links - between the TPPA and child poverty - and between the larger neo-liberal project, growing corporate power and the impoverishment of large sectors of the population. The challenge is how to fundamentally challenge this agenda when the only calls heard are 'change the government.'

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