Andrew Little says Labour opposes TPP unless it allows future Governments to ban foreign buyers of land and houses

Andrew Little says Labour opposes TPP unless it allows future Governments to ban foreign buyers of land and houses

By Bernard Hickey

The Labour Opposition has opened a new front in its drive to ban foreign buyers of land and houses, saying it would oppose the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP) unless it allowed future Governments to ban such sales.

Labour Leader Andrew Little detailed Labour's tougher policy on the TPP on Tuesday after Prime Minister John Key said the TPP would effectively stop any future Government from banning non-residents from buying New Zealand land and houses.

Key has said New Zealand's 2008 Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with China included a Most Favoured Nation clause which meant China was entitled to the same treatment as other nations in any future free trade deal. New Zealand's FTA with Korea, which has been signed and is being finalised, prohibits any ban on foreign buying, meaning China has to be treated the same. Key has also said the TPP, which is in the final stages of negotiation in Hawaii this week, would also prevent any ban.

Little said the Government was being disloyal by refusing to protect New Zealand's sovereignty and was betraying the nation's long-term interest by locking future Governments into such a deal.

"The Government must have the right to restrict the role of non-resident foreigners when it comes to our property market, whether it's residential or farm land. We must have the right to set our own rules to act in our interest." Little told reporters.

"We don't know what's in the TPP. The whole thing is secret which is why Labour has put some bottom lines there, including protecting the right of future governments to legislate in the best interests of New Zealand, including putting restrictions or bans on what non-resident foreigners can do in terms of land sales," he said.

Labour's other 'bottom lines' included the protection of Pharmac, stopping foreign corporates from successfully suing the Government and ensuring meaningful gains in market access were achieved.

"We cannot have the situation where the Government is at risk of legal action because of its attempts to legislate in the best interests of New Zealanders," he said.

"If it compromises or prevents the ability of any future government to restrict land sales, residential or farm, we will be opposed to the TPP."

However, Little would not commit to repealing or changing the TPP if Labour was the Government, saying only it would have to make it's decision at the time, given it did not know what was in the TPP.

"I don't know what the scope would be for a future government to do with a concluded agreement," he said, adding however the full agreement will not be voted on in Parliament. There may be enabling legislation that will have to be voted on.

"We will oppose the TPP in whatever form we can if it prevents a future Government from acting in the best interests of New Zealanders," he said.

Little said the primary concern about the TPP it had received in feedback from voters was the risk or threat of preventing a future Government from restricting land sales.

"That's what they fear most. The Government should hear that message. That's why we've taken the stance we have," he said.

He said the Government should renegotiate its bilateral deal with Korea if it prevented a ban on foreign buyers.

Key admits Pharmac costs may rise

Meanwhile, Key told reporters the TPP could extend the patents on medications, preventing Pharmac from quickly using generic versions, but that these costs would be more than offset by gains through increased market access.

"Patents will run for a little bit longer and that means the government will have to pay for the original drug as opposed to the generic for a little bit longer," Key said.

"For consumers that won't make any difference because for subsidised drugs you pay $5 for your prescription. So the government may incur slightly more costs there but then the government has to say what are the benefits that we get? Of course, if we have a lot more exports and a lot more economic activity we gain a lot more revenue there," he said.

"There's always a bit of give and take, but overall it's at the margins and the modelling  we've seen presents more benefits than costs to us."

Doctors have estimated the TPP could increase drug costs by NZ$25 million to NZ$50 million a year.

Little said the Government appeared to be going back on its commitment to retaining the benefits of Pharmac.

"A couple of months ago they were saying they were going to protect the Pharmac model and they're going back on that undertaking. That's the whole problem with a negotiation done in secret," Little said.

"If they now want to load up more cost on the New Zealand taxpayer to meet the cost of Pharmac, that's not acceptable."

Little denied Labour had reversed its earlier commitments to free trade.

"We remain absolutely committed to free trade. We're a small trading nation and market access remains absolutely vital, but the TPP does more than market access. We don't even know what market access it's going to achieve, but it does way more than market access and that's the problem with it," he said.

"We listen to all New Zealanders and we listen to a lot of New Zealanders who are concerned about the potential threat to the future sovereignty of New Zealand Governments."

We welcome your help to improve our coverage of this issue. Any examples or experiences to relate? Any links to other news, data or research to shed more light on this? Any insight or views on what might happen next or what should happen next? Any errors to correct?

We welcome your comments below. If you are not already registered, please register to comment.

Remember we welcome robust, respectful and insightful debate. We don't welcome abusive or defamatory comments and will de-register those repeatedly making such comments. Our current comment policy is here.

28 Comments

Comment Filter

Highlight new comments in the last hr(s).
18
up

China banned house sales to foreigners in 2013, at least in hot markets - Shanghai and Beijing. So what's up with JK saying we can't do it? What sort of mutual agreement is that or are we having the wool pulled over our eyes again.
Looks to me like the only winners out of this TPP will be powerful multinational (mostly) US corporations. Longer patents and IP rights are a straight gift to them and a cost to us plus increased barriers to entry for the little guy and start ups. It's almost as though the likes of Monsanto had written the thing..... er that couldn't happen, could it?
How do we stand with our ban on GMO, or environmental protection under this - I guess we'll just have to wait and see.

Its incumbent upon the investors, not the government to take the PROC to an arbitration panel under the auspices of the World Bank's International Centre for the Settlement of Investment Disputes. Its presided over by a panel of three lawyers who are paid for by the investors seeking redress and there are currently no rules governing maximum fees charged by these arbitrators. How many Kiwi investors have the means to air their grievances against the PROC under such conditions?

Thanks Anarkist and I think you've raised a good point.
Governments have a duty to uphold the rights and interests of their citizens whatever their means. If the obstacles to redress under the provisions of these "trade" agreements are so formidable (legal action through the world bank or some nebulous arbitration panel) that only a large corporation could consider taking action then they are intrinsically unjust.
Just further reinforces my belief that this whole TPP thing is a giant gift to rapacious multinational corporations. Screw the little guy.

22
up

Are we insane allowing the TPP to be signed?

This is one of the biggest decisions in NZ's history, yet we don't have all the information/implications clear (in fact the negotiations are a secret) and the government doesn't seem too concerned to properly inform citizens about the consequences for this and future generations.
So by default the answer should be a big NO!

Why aren't we concerned about loosing our sovereignty? What do we want democracy for?

Sovereignty is defined by Max Webber as the monopoly of physical force within a territory. Hence ANY international trade agreement where a company can sue a government democratically elected threatens the sovereignty.

Any supporter of democracy should reject the TPP.

Isn't enough with negotiations on levies, duties and concession rates when trading in an international market and ensuring always there is no law but the one citizens create through their representatives and the human rights?

I'm honestly shocked we're going down this road without any real opposition.

Labour party is a joke, by the way.
So if we ban foreign ownership of land and houses.. it's all good with signing the TPP?

What's the problem with foreigners buying NZ land and houses as long as they are under our same rules (the law we democratically make to ensure the interest of the majority)?

Don't we see this is a joke orchestrated to pass a very dangerous agreement where sovereignty won't mean anything against international economic powers?

Lets apply the same methodology being used in creating the TPP.... this should enforce the Government to have to do an agreement with each individual of NZ...I'm certainly looking forward to having a contract with them!!!

Did they have a mandate for this too? I can't remember.
Given how they got schooled with the casino /convention centre I have no faith they won't sell us all down the river. Intentionally or otherwise.

The Labour government are being strategically devious. Provisions in both the China and ASEAN Free Trade Agreements outright forbid our government from acting in such a way that discriminates against foreign investment. They are angling for votes by positioning themselves as opponents of selling off our country when they signed an agreement which expressly forbids any government action which seeks to stop this.

You're right - Labour did sign the original agreement.
And they were bested.
They should have never signed it.
But they were trying to be Nats-lite when they did.
More fools them
And unfortunately, the regular Joe bears the consequences.

You are being deliberately devious or just swallowing JK's propaganda. Read the text above - the China FTA gives them most favoured status, negotiating a 'no ban on foreigners' in the Korea FTA upgrades China and should not have any part in any FTA.

12
up

the TPP is the worst thing we could sign, the benefits in no way make up for the costs to us as a nation.
to say the USA are free market, are they? have a look at how many restrictions they put on trade it is always balanced in their favour

"I'm honestly shocked we're going down this road without any real opposition."
You can voice your opposition by joining the thousands who again will march against this stealth corporate coup d'etat and the what can only be called "traitors" who are promoting the TPPA. In a locale near you:

http://itsourfuture.org.nz/campaigns/tppa-action-week-8-15-august/

10
up

Was just about to post that link. I'll just add to anyone reading it and keen to participate, yes, the lunatic fringe will try to get in on things but we cannot let that stop voices being heard and numbers being seen. Get off your bums and protest, even if it just this once in your life.
Just pause and think about Pharmac in this, do you really, really think we should be giving all of that away for some non-quantified future tax take. Please think hard about this now. Key is touting IT as our great saviour in all of this. Really? Yes, really.
Giving up Pharmac (which pretty much what will happen, mark my words) and no dairy in the damned thing, I mean, there's nothing in it for NZ, nothing.
Then there is sovereignty, Groser has admitted yes, we will give away some sovereignty in this. Well, given the outright untruths that the govt has told us all along, what sort of "some" do you think this will be.
And I want to know, if we decide we want country of origin labeling on our food, we will be able to do it. I know it sounds small, but it is just one of the many questions that are still unanswered.
Just get out there, make it known what we think of this thing - do it!

Lots of very respectable people have participated in past events. Never saw any lunatic fringers. Please show up.

They were along at the last rally in Hamilton, they can be a bit off putting to Mr and Mrs Joe Average who might like to make their voices heard. And different slogans need to be come up with, I think people hear the old "What do we want"......."when do we want it" sort of thing and turn off. I march in silence at these things

Happy to see there is opposition organizing. I'll be there.

Mis-application of free market policies - this could describing NZ
http://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/rob-commentary/vancouv...

wow I thought that was Auckland amazing how similar our situation is to Canada

Thats A brilliant article.... I think it is spot on..

Learn from the mistakes of others. You can't live long enough to make them all yourself - Levenson

Through the Canadian immigrant investor scheme, 45,000 millionaires migrated to Vancouver between 2005 and 2012 alone. It was hoped that investor-class immigrants would "create jobs" and "boost the economy", but the program was a failure. Investor-class immigrants pay less in taxes than refugees. Through a series of loopholes and fraud, this class of immigrant continues to funnel untaxed money into Vancouver from abroad.

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/rob-commentary/vancouv...

That means GDP goes up (good) but GDP per capita goes down (bad)

(John Key) "For consumers that won't make any difference.... the government may incur slightly more costs..."

Err, John? The Government IS consumers; me, you and they. The cost will be borne by us all; the consumers, even if the cheques are written out for us, by you as our Government....

Even he must have known that just about everyone, except Mike Hosking, could see that, but just went on ahead and said it anyway.

Mastering the Art of deflection - by robyn-red-breast in ODT

He's at it again

If we analyse how John Key uses language to deflect questioning, (such as, as it has been reported, that he doubts that a person in China wakes up in the morning and randomly thinks "I think I'll buy a house in Auckland"), we see that what he is doing is commenting on his view of how a Chinese person would or would not think; this response, which is an avoidance of responding directly to the question of housing affordability in Auckland, puts the questioner on the back foot and potentially disables the questioning. It is important, of course, that the questioner is not stymied and that he/she can get back on track. One way to do this is, obviously, is call him on what he is doing by asking him to explain what that has to do with the cost of housing in Auckland and its affordability for New Zealanders. By deflecting he avoids being called to account and also minimises the importance of the question.

These tactics can and are used by polititians of all persuasions but John Key has mastered the art and employs it very successfully.

http://www.odt.co.nz/news/politics/349952/pm-painfully-out-touch-housing

John Key is saying "I am NEGOTIATING the TPP but my hads are tied because of other Trade agreemants". Well he is NOT negotiating
When you negotiate a new agreement you are NOT tied to other agreements because that is what NEGOTIATION means

Never marched in a protest before, but will strive to get to the Auckland rally against the TPPA... and if they threw in a dig at immigration running at such high levels that would be a bonus ..

Never sure how much these polls accomplish, but there's one going on the radiolive website, whether NZ should sign the TPPA or not.
So far it's a resounding NO

http://www.radiolive.co.nz/

Nuclear free zones worked for us. Let's get TPP-Free Zones underway:
http://www.thealliancefordemocracy.org/tppfreezones.shtml

They have suggested approaches for us to use in our towns and cities.