Report from Jane Kelsey
The New Zealand government has imposed unprecedented restrictions on registered stakeholders as it hosts the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations in Auckland this week.
“We turned up this morning and found we are locked out of the entire Sky City Convention Centre for all 10 days except the so-called stakeholder day on Friday,” according to Professor Jane Kelsey, who has attended six previous rounds.
More than twenty international experts in public health, intellectual property, investment, labour, consumer rights and other issues have travelled at great expense to Auckland on the assumption that the rules will not be worse than in previous rounds.
“Already, we knew the ‘stakeholder’ day had been truncated from recent US practice, abandoning the ‘market of tables’ where groups can set out their papers for negotiators to browse. That is when negotiators can make arrangements for further discussions on matters of interest to them”, Professor Kelsey said.
“The New Zealand government has effectively removed that option for connecting with negotiators and arranging meetings.”
“It has also canned the other opportunity for interacting with delegations, a reception to which stakeholders are invited.”
“Even the dates of the various subject group meetings were withheld, until I secured them last Friday under the Official Information Act”.
“Now our government has excluded us from the venue itself, where we often meet with negotiators who have short windows of opportunity at tea breaks or duck out from meetings.”
“It is patently obvious that our government is actively attempting to block us from having private interactions with negotiators who have their own concerns or want more information in areas they lack expertise, or are simply polite enough to respond to requests for meetings.”
“The previous round held in New Zealand in December 2010 was widely criticised for its secrecy – including by journalists trying to find out what is happening. It looks positively transparent when compared to what we are now confronting, which is hugely depressing and totally unacceptable.”