Final TPP text enters Parliament
Parliament has opened with Prime Minister John Key voicing strong support for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).
The Government signed the 12-nation free trade agreement in Auckland last week amid protests and demonstrations, and it is now in Parliament's hands.
"What a tremendous trade deal for New Zealand," Mr Key said in his opening speech today.
"It's going to eliminate 93 percent of tariffs, open up exports to 800 million consumers; the value to New Zealand is $2.7 billion."
Mr Key described criticism of some parts of the TPP as "myths" and said its wording was basically the same as the China free trade agreement.
He scorned Labour's opposition to the agreement, calling it "the two position party" because two of its MPs had said they supported it.
"Others are quietly saying the same," he said.
Mr Key used his speech to paint a rosy picture of the economy, saying it was forecast to grow at 2.7 percent over the next five years.
Tourist numbers were at record levels, unemployment fell in the latest survey, ACC levies would decrease significantly this year and business confidence was rising, he said.
Mr Key set out the Government's agenda for 2016 in a statement, saying there would be more elective surgery, $6 billion spent on capital works including highways, and a strong focus on law and order.
Labour leader Andrew Little kicked off the debate that's expected to continue for the rest of Parliament's first day.
He said the Government's handling of the TPP had been "diabolical" and the Government hadn't had the confidence in the public to allow open debate before it was signed.
Mr Little moved the traditional motion of no confidence in the Government, which will be voted on at the end of the debate.
He said it had no plans for New Zealand's future and was "allowing the Kiwi dream to slip away".
In the House today, the final text of the TPP free trade deal has been presented to Parliament.
It kicks off the formal Parliamentary treaty examination process overseen by the foreign affairs, defence and trade select committee.
As part of this process, the select committee will likely call for public submissions. Once the treaty examination has been completed, the select committee will report back to Parliament and make recommendations to the Government.
Along with the full text of the TPP, the Government has also presented the national interest analysis and the text of four intellectual property treaties New Zealand will sign up to under the TPP.
Trade Minister Todd McClay says legislative changes needed to implement the TPP will be introduced to Parliament at a later stage and go through the normal Parliamentary process.
Only once all these steps have been completed, and other countries have completed their own domestic approval procedures, will the TPP come into force.