ACT Demands A Real Debate

Published: Tue 15 Aug 2000 05:35 PM
“If the Government was serious on debating the proposed free trade agreement with Singapore, it would have accepted the ACT party’s request for a debate today, said ACT Leader, Hon Richard Prebble.
The ACT party sought an urgent debate in the House today, because of reported ‘historic’ and ‘precedent-setting’ inclusions in a trade agreement with Singapore. The debate was rejected, and the Government subsequently issued press statements supporting a treaty debate in Parliament.
“The Government’s is offering nothing but a Clayton’s debate.
“Under New Zealand law treaties are signed by the Cabinet and have the effect of statute law. The offer by the Deputy Prime Minister, Jim Anderton, and Trade Minister, Jim Sutton, to discuss the new trade treaty, after they’ve signed it, is nothing more than a public relations exercise.
“The ACT party, who the government is relying on to back the agreement because of our strong track record of free trade support, is considering voting against the Singapore treaty. We believe certain provisions will damage New Zealand’s reputation as a reliable country with which to do business.
“ACT understands that the Government, in response to pressure from the so-called Maori caucus, has included a provision stating that the trade agreement will be subject to the provisions of the Treaty of Waitangi. This appears to enable any Maori group to insist on a free ride out of any investment flowing from the trade agreement.
“Frankly we are surprised that the Singapore government would be prepared to sign an agreement which could get them involved in the treaty grievance industry.
“ACT has a further concern. Usually reliable sources state that this trade agreement is in fact a partnership agreement. This is an idea of the Alliance party. ACT’s view is that it is complete folly to sign a partnership agreement with Singapore.
“New Zealand wants a trading relationship, not a partnership which implies that each country is in some way sharing control.
“What has happened is that a good idea of freeing up trade between Singapore and New Zealand has become side-tracked by the coalition’s internal politics.
“As treaties have the effect of law passed by parliament, and as the government is proposing a radical departure from any treaty ever signed, it is essential that the issue is debated now,” said Hon Richard Prebble. ENDS

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