Thousands march against TPPA deal

Thousands march against TPPA deal

A day of action saw thousands march around the country, unhappy about the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA).

Protesters in Christchurch took over a Christchurch shopping mall, storming past security and stopping shoppers in their tracks.

A helpless security guard tried to stop the stream of protesters flooding inside Riccarton's Westfield mall – hundreds chanting and waving banners, all in protest against the TPPA.

Shoppers could only look on as a flash mob waiting in the food court took over.

Up to 3000 braved the pouring rain, marching along one of Christchurch's busiest streets.

"Very, very happy – there would have been more if not for this obnoxious weather, but people are obviously very, very dedicated," says organiser Gen de Spa.

Ordinary New Zealanders were taking a stand.

"If we want to keep our sovereignty and make decisions for New Zealanders, we need to come out."

Not everyone was impressed, including those stuck in traffic.

Back inside the mall, outnumbered and out-maneuverered, mall security asked protesters to move.

Out they marched, leaving behind bemused shoppers, security just glad they were gone.

Protesters tonight have claimed a small victory in their fight against the TPPA.

Trade Minister Tim Groser is revelling in the role of bad guy as he comes under attack from both protesters and fellow negotiators.

Some reports suggest negotiators from Japan, the United States and Canada may blame Mr Groser if the TPPA talks fail, but Mr Groser says he doesn't know how to negotiate any other way.

Mr Groser has as much to worry about from the thousands who protested against the TPPA as he does from fellow negotiators.

"Well most of the time in foreign policy New Zealand is considered the too goodie-good shoes, so this is a bit of balance," says Mr Groser.

In Wellington police say they prevented some protesters from pushing through barriers outside Parliament, but it's barriers to dairy exports Mr Groser is most worried about.

"There won't be a deal that excludes dairy. The real issue is how good is it going to be, and that's what this negotiating is all about. You can imagine what I'm shooting for – the best deal I can get."

But overseas reports suggest negotiators from Japan, Canada and the United States are ganging up to paint Mr Groser as the fall guy if negotiations fail.

"Ganging up is not a word I would use, but it is not far removed from the underlying reality that they've got deeply protectionist lobbies," says Mr Groser.

But leading opponent Jane Kelsey says Mr Groser is re-writing the narrative.

"To claim that he's taking the high ground, he's been admitting now for a long time that New Zealand is not getting a dairy bonanza from the TPPA," says Ms Kelsey. "It's hugely unpopular domestically and I think he might be laying the groundwork to justify New Zealand not being part of a final deal."

In any case, time is running short to strike a deal Mr Groser says is essential to New Zealand's interests but that protesters insist only favours big corporates.

The message from the organisers is that they want one last push to prevent the TPPA deal going through before the window closes for good, and they'll be heartened by the fact that many thousands turned up to make their voices heard.

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