Fight to know negotiation details heads to court.
Consumer NZ supports a legal challenge over the secrecy of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) negotiations.
University of Auckland Professor Jane Kelsey made an Official Information Act request in January this year but Trade Minister Tim Groser refused to release any information. Professor Kelsey has now launched an urgent application for judicial review in the High Court. Consumer NZ is a co-applicant in the proceedings, along with the Association of Salaried Medical Specialists, Greenpeace and Oxfam.
Under the Official Information Act, the Ombudsman had to review the Minister’s decision before it could be judicially reviewed. Prof Kelsey said that process had taken four-and-a-half months.
“While we would have preferred to bring the case earlier, it remains crucially important to secure release of information before any deal is done and dusted, and to clarify the rules for future negotiations,” Prof Kelsey said.
Under the negotiating rules for the TPPA, the text will not be made public until after the agreement is signed by our government. Once the text is finalised, only cabinet has to agree for New Zealand to sign up, so it won’t be debated in parliament.
The latest round of TPPA negotiations in Hawaii ended last week with negotiators and trade ministers unable to come together over a deal. The contentious issues are dairy and the intellectual property area including pharmaceuticals, which would affect Pharmac.