TPP report deadline shift 'an affront to democracy'

Thousands protested the TPP in Auckland on the day of the ceremonial signing in February (Simon Wong / Newshub.)
Thousands protested the TPP in Auckland on the day of the ceremonial signing in February (Simon Wong / Newshub.)

The select committee working on public submissions on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) has had its timeframe cut from a month to five days.

The Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Select Committee has been hearing thousands of submissions on the controversial trade deal around the country.

The committee had a month to write its report and present it to Parliament, but that timeframe has been cut to five days.

Labour and the Greens say this is proof the Government has already made up its mind on the TPP, and isn't interested in what the public has to say.

Labour MP David Clark, who is on the committee, believes cutting down the reporting time is a "shocking case of political expediency".

"National is clearly uncomfortable with scrutiny of its flimsy national interest analysis. Now they want to get the issue off the agenda before election year," says Mr Clark.

"At every turn, they have failed to convince New Zealanders that the deal stacks up. Now they are reduced to scaremongering about exclusion from future trade deals as the only reason to support the legislation," Mr Clark says.

He believes speeding up the reporting time is an "affront to democracy".

Green Party trade spokesman and fellow committee member Kennedy Graham says it shows National "never intended to take people's opinions on the TPP seriously".

"The so-called consultation over the TPP is a farce. This latest move shows how the Government couldn't care less about the views of New Zealanders who care about the TPP."

The move is unfair for those who spent time preparing submissions on the deal, he says.

"Taking away the time that members of the select committee need to actually read and properly consider the public submissions shows up the TP consultation for what it is: a roadshow with a predetermined outcome."

Committee chair, National's Mark Mitchell, defended the decision, saying there'd still be time for debate in Parliament.

He said time for people to make submissions had been extended, but also believed many who opposed the deal had already made up their minds about it, RNZ reports.

The original reporting dates given the committee were indicative, and nothing had changed in terms of the public's involvement.

"It just means that we've got to work a little harder as a committee to get our report back into the house."