Our Fourth Estate on the TPPA

It’s the new year, and parliamentary politics has yet to heat up again. There’s only one big event on the horizon, the signing of the TPPA here in Aotearoa. Despite the lack of activity, and the abundance of information produced on the TPPA, our media is failing to produce any sort of cognisant reporting on the issue. Case and point is John Roughan’s Saturday article in the Herald. He shows a complete lack of understanding of the criticisms leveled against the agreement, and succeeds only in throwing random facts around with empty rhetoric.

Roughan’s piece seems to be mainly suggesting dissenters are incorrect to continue their dissent, as the released text of the TPPA isn’t as bad as we feared it could be

[The signing of the TPPA] is bound to attract the mother of all protests, which will finally discredit those who have been marching in the streets, for the text has been out for two months and it has become clear it is not the sell-out to the US they were led to expect.

While it is a relief that we are trading less than all of our sovereignty for an expected 0.9% increase in GDP over the next 15 years, or around 0.06% per annum, it’s no reason to stop criticising the agreement. We are still signing an agreement which expands global corporate hegemony, potentially costing us billions of dollars.

Roughan goes on to suggest the text is completely benign, because he hasn’t seen Professor Jane Kelsey point out a smoking gun

[Law] professor Jane Kelsey has been studying trade position papers for years and I’ve been waiting for her to find something explosive in the fine print

This is the level of journalism we can expect from the New Zealand Herald these days, gotchas and smoking gun politics. He follows this up with a misunderstanding of claims that New Zealand’s signing of the TPPA is undemocratic

I don’t know what kind of government protesters have in mind when they call the TPP’s dispute provisions a threat to “democracy”

Despite the fact we have never had a chance to vote on the TPPA, and the government is planning to sign it without a referendum or any sort of public consultation, even though polls show only 34% support the agreement. There’s a word for governments who change their countries without consulting the people, and it’s not “democratic”.

Roughan finishes off with a classic piece of personality politics rubbish, suggesting John Key is doing a good job because of how well he schmoozes with other world leaders.

Key, elected in the same week as Obama, established an important personal rapport. At times when the talks failed to reach predicted agreement and Key was asked whether he still thought the TPP would succeed, he’d say, “I think so. Obama wants to do it.”

Our media is failing in their duty of providing accurate information to the citizenry, and checks on government. Instead, we have a paper which reads like a fan club newsletter, obsessed with the people in charge and offering only the shallowest of analysis. The sooner the trite that is the New Zealand Herald moves into obscurity, the better.

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