Holding the Government to account over the Trans Pacific Partnership

Over the last three years I have made my opposition to the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement (T.P.P.A.) clear. It is an agreement between nations that is not about trade, contrary to what the Minister of Trade, Tim Groser, will have one believe.

Human rights are an area of considerable disagreement with regards to the text of the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement because of concerns that international treatizes that nations including New Zealand are signatory to might not be applicable under the T.P.P.A. Before I went overseas on holiday, I submitted an Official Information Act request with the help of a New Zealand website run by volunteers called For Your Information to the office of Mr Groser. I wanted to ask him a couple of questions about how human rights would be impacted in a New Zealand context. The request for information, the response and counter response can be seen here.

Mr Groser met the statutory timeframe for responding to my letter, and did so in depth. However it was not until I had a proper read of his response, that I noticed he had completely avoided answering the questions. Whereas I had a quick acknowledgement of the first request from his office, there has been nothing this time. Whereas I had a response within the statutory time frame for the first request, I am on track to not getting even an acknowledgement of my second request inside the required time frame.

This is notable because whilst overseas T.P.P. critic and Auckland University Professor Jane Kelsey filed papers in the Auckland High Court against Mr Groser’s handling of information regarding the T.P.P., and asked the High Court to order him to review how he dispenses information about it. The High Court ruled in her favour, which has implications for how he dispenses information in response to other requests. As this could affect my request for information – I informed his office that its initial response was not satisfactory and resent the initial request back verbatim.

How this continues to develop is up to the Minister of Trade. If he comes clean and answers my questions, it will stop there. If not, other options are being considered.

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