New expert paper on TPPA shows serious impacts for local government
An expert, peer reviewed, paper on the implications of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) for local government
was released today. The paper was co-authored by former city councillor and chair of Watercare Services, Tony Holman
QSO, former Member of Parliament and Auckland city councillor Richard Northey ONZM, and Professor Jane Kelsey from the
University of Auckland, and was peer reviewed by Dean Knight, senior lecturer in law at Victoria University of
Wellington and an expert in local government law.
The 36-page paper covers: the exposure of local government, international experiences of local government, special
protections for TPPA investors, Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS), public private partnerships (PPPs), privatised
water, services and investment liberalisation, Council Controlled Organisation (CCO) contracts, public procurement,
tangata whenua and te Tiriti o Waitangi, economic development, sustainability, decision making processes and exceptions.
‘Many people have probably not considered how the TPPA might affect local government’, said co-author Tony Holman.
‘Unfortunately the impact may be considerable and the bigger the local authority, the greater the effects will be’.
‘A reality check shows that every local authority will have to comply with complex rules and restrictions across many
chapters, in the same way that central government has to. Overseas experience shows they also face potential
interventions from overseas corporates, including through costly investor-state disputes, for doing what their
constituents expect of them.’
For Richard Northey, ‘what matters for those of us with years of experience in local government is the reduction in
autonomous and locally appropriate decision making by local government. This is particularly restrictive on those
Councils and communities that want to take an appropriate locally active role, to the extent they can, in community
social and economic development and reform’.
‘There are already real legal restrictions on this, with a real risk of greater restrictions if the TPPA were in force.
This could result from a series of projected reviews, especially to the application of government procurement and
state-owned enterprises chapters to local councils’.
The paper shows the municipal activities that have the greatest potential to be affected are: policy making and planning
decisions; bylaws and regulations governing permitted activities; technical standards, such as property development,
construction, advertising, zoning and environmental quality; activities relating to finance; public procurement
con-tracts, including public private partnerships (PPPs); utilities; and resource management rules and decisions.
There are also implications for regional economic development. The paper notes that the ‘TPPA erodes the flexibility
that local authorities need to promote economic development in their communities, and is not a sound basis for a
progressive and sustainable 21st century economy that addresses climate change, social inequalities, environmental
degradation ad other challenges.’
This is the sixth in a series of expert peer-reviewed posted on TPPlegal.wordpress.com
and supported by a grant from the New Zealand Law Foundation.
 The content of these papers should not be attributed to the NZ Law Foundation