Eyes Above The Waves

Robert O'Callahan. Christian. Repatriate Kiwi. Hacker.

Sunday 15 November 2015

TPPA Protest

On Saturday I participated in a protest march for the first time ever --- against the TPPA. I support lowering trade barriers, but the TPPA has a lot of baggage that I strongly dislike, such committing member nations to a dysfunctional United States-esque intellectual property regime, and sovereignty-eroding "investor-state dispute settlement". The biggest prize for New Zealand would have been free access to foreign dairy markets, but that was mostly not realized, so it seems like a bad deal for us.

Unsurprisingly there were a lot of different sorts of people involved. Many of them espoused themes I don't agree with --- knee-jerk anti-Americanism, "Socialist Aotearoa", general opposition to free-market economics. That made it more fun and interesting :-). I think it's very important that people who disagree about a lot of things can still work together on issues they do agree about.


Simon Geard
This is a problem I always see with the protest community in NZ... they're terrible at staying on message, instead of taking the opportunity to push their own causes. So while most of the crowd was protesting TPPA, I also saw sizable minorities pushing the flag debate (both for and against), and a significant number of the general "we hate John Key" people. I think protests like this would draw more support if they weren't constantly hijacked like that. It's hard enough to get people to participate anyway, and it's harder if they're marching surrounded by banners they bitterly disagree with.
Yes. Also, it plays into the "if you support free trade you must support TPPA" narrative when everyone against the TPPA seems to be against free trade.
Simon Geard
Exactly. You want *one* clear and simple message, representing the views of everyone present. I take your point about the merits of working together with people you might otherwise disagree with - but promoting your own agenda at the expense of the group... that's not working together. That said, this protest *was* better focused than many. The Occupy mob in Aotea Square a few years ago was hopeless in that respect - the banners then were a broad mix of anarchism, Maori independence, and cannabis legalisation. The core issue of inequality was completely drowned out...