The first was that I received a reply from my MP about my request for him to agitate in Parliament for the TPPA negotiations to be made public. It was pretty much a non-response, assuring me that once negotiations are complete, the draft agreement must be passed into legislation, which means the public will have a chance to 'have their say' as part of due process by making a submission. He has confidence that this process will allow the legislation to be informed by public opinion.
I have less faith in the process, partly because NZ governments have a reputation for passing legislation even in the face of overwhelming opposition in submissions (see the BZP Amendment Act). And now, I have even more reason to doubt the process. Yesterday, parliament crossed another line.
What does the internet have to do with the Christchurch earthquake?
Well might you ask. I don't know. What I do know is that yesterday, the government passed the second reading of the Copyright (Infringing File Sharing) Amendment Bill under urgency. Today they plan to have the third reading, after which it'll become law. Just as a background, this Bill has been around for a while, and in its original form contained clauses that allowed presumtion of piracy (as opposed to, you know, the presumption of innocence that our Bill of Rights says we have) and the cutting off of people's internet based on that presumption of guilt. People, naturally, objected. The first Blackout was a protest against this, and the protest caused a redrafting of the Bill, which has languished in parliament since November.
Now, our parliament is acting under urgency, something to do with the state of emergency declared after the Christchurch earthquake. Normal folks would be going "OK so they can act under urgency to get laws in place to deal with Christchurch" but it seems the government is going "Hey look, we can act under urgency to do whatever the fuck we want, let's pass this piracy thing really fast so we don't have to consult or have a submissions process or anything!" And that's exactly what they've done. They have bypassed due process to pass an unpopular law under the cover of urgency created to deal with a national disaster.
This isn't the first time a government's done something like this. However, this government seems to be doing it more and more, and also more blatantly. To me, this is an indication that they are not interested in finding out what kiwis think before they act supposedly on our behalf. And that makes Peter Dunne's letter reassuring me that I'll get to have my say on the TPPA a bit of a joke. I actually have no idea if I'll get to have a say on that based in the way our government is currently behaving.
So, why would the government want to pass this legislation in a hurry now, without due process? Well, I've been harping about the TPPA a bit lately. Part of what's in the TPPA is about intellectual property. Essentially the US is insisting on "far-reaching intellectual property chapters that guarantee ever higher-stricter monopoly rights to its drug companies, entertainment industry and IT and technology sector." You don't have to be a mental giant to make the connection between the sudden urge to legislate against piracy without due process and the leverage the US is applying re: intellectual property in the TPPA.
So to me, it seems our government is doing this in preparation for acceptance of US conditions regarding intellectual property within the TPPA. And they are doing it without asking us what we think.
Yet, I'm supposed to believe my MP (who is part of the ruling party whether he goes under a different party title or not) when he says that I have nothing to worry about because everything's above board. Either he's naive as fuck or he thinks we are.
Question: does our government really think we are that thick that they can blatantly manoeuvre like this and we won't notice or realise what they are up to? What does that say about them? To me, it says they think our opinion doesn't count, and that they don't care about even paying lip service to consulting the people they supposedly represent before acting 'on our behalf'.
So no, I have no faith that our government will give due process to the TPPA and that scares the crap out of me. I want to get Peter Dunne and bang his head on a wall while yelling "WE ARE NOT THAT STUPID" at him. I know I can't do that but I would appreciate advice on what I, and others, can do.
One thing I am doing is attending Murray Horton's talk about the TPPA next Monday. It bothers me how little I know about this and it bothers me even more how much less other people know. And I want to find out. So, St John's Church main hall, cnr Willis and Dixon, 6pm Monday the 18th, that's where I'll be.
This means that I won't be at Nerdnite 5. Sorry Billy, I really wanted to be at your talk but I care a lot about this and I have to learn more about how to oppose it. And I have to encourage others to do the same.
The third thing is on a completely different topic that I've decided not to talk about now. Maybe in another post.