Thursday, March 19, 2015

Fighting Foreign Corporate Control

One of the most pernicious parts to the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement, is the way it will let private corporations sue our government if we pass laws they don't like.

We've already seen how dangerous this can be for a nation's sovereignty thanks to numerous attempts at this offshore. So-called "investor-state disputes" have hit several Latin American states with literally BILLIONS of dollars worth of court-ordered payments to corporates; and proven that even things New Zealanders would regard as sacrosanct - such as our right to turn down mining companies from exploiting our heritage - can be turned into lucrative lawsuits that net payouts in the hundreds of millions of dollars to opportunistic foreign corporates.

Lest you think this is a problem confined to the Bolivarian Revolutionaries and Banana Republics* of South America ... even economic colossi like Canada have found themselves subject to lawsuits from offshore corporates. Closer to home, we've recently witnessed intricately dodgy maneuverings from cigarette companies like Philip Morris that allowed them to sue the Australian government over plain packaging laws for cigs.

If Anglosphere nations with incredible international clout such as Canada and Australia aren't immune to being bullied like this - what chance does little New Zealand have when taking on foreign conglomerates whose own GDPs are frequently massively larger than our own.

Hell, given the "roll out the red carpet" approach our National-led government's traditionally taken whenever an offshore company puts the screws on (you may remember that time NZ comprehensively re-wrote its labour laws after John Key personally got the hard word from Warner Brothers) - would we even BOTHER to fight?

Given the history, we here in New Zealand First believe that the protection of our economic national interest is TOO IMPORTANT to be left to the (ironically named) National Party.

That's why NZ First MP Fletcher Tabuteau has put forward a Private Member's Bill that will PROTECT our sovereignty by preventing foreign corporates from suing our government for "loss of profits" when we pass legislation that serves New Zealanders.

It's called the Fighting Foreign Corporate Control bill, and it's just been drawn from the ballot.

New Zealand's economy has been the plaything and cash-cow of foreign interests for too long. We are committed to restoring the balance and making sure that our laws work for our own enrichment. Not simply to line the pockets of offshore executives and shareholders.

We look forward to your support as we protect and save YOUR New Zealand. Help us to make sure the government gets the message and gives our bill a fair hearing.

*It's also worth having a think about the origin of the term "Banana Republic" to see just how bad these sorts of things can get. The best example for this is Guatemala. Way back in the mid-20th century, its economy was excessively reliant upon the production of bananas. This was the preserve of the American-based United Fruit Company, who was also the nation's largest single land-owner (holding a massive 42% of Guatemala's arable land). The way that UFC was able to effectively control the domestic politics of countries such as Guatemala in order to ensure its own economic interest was protected, gave rise to the term "Banana Republic". In 1952, newly elected Guatemalan President Jacobo Arbenz enacted a program of social and economic reform intended to considerably improved the lot of Guatemala's poor. One part of this program was the #Nationalization of unused land (with fair compensation) with a view to providing the "peon" class with independently held property and livelihood.

Arbenz proposed paying the UFC compensation equal to the value it had declared the land to be worth for tax purposes. The UFC got a bit incensed about this, because it had wildly undervalued the land so as to minimize how much tax it paid to Guatemala.

The end result was the 1954 corporate-backed overthrow of President Arbenz.

See what can happen when you let corporations erode your sovereignty?

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