Government commits to putting FTA to parliamentary vote

Green Party MP Keith Locke has welcomed the Government’s commitment in the House today to put the free trade agreement with China, to be signed in April, to a Parliamentary vote.

Answering a question in the House today from Mr Locke, acting trade minister Annette King said that ‘this agreement requires the approval of this Parliament’ and that ‘this House will decide on whether there is a free trade agreement with China and I believe most members will vote for it.’

“This is a welcome departure from normal practice,” Mr Locke says.

“It will allow Parliament to fully debate all the advantages and disadvantages of the treaty and to decide if it is in New Zealand’s interests.

“The Green Party is very concerned that removing tariffs on Chinese goods would seriously damage what is left of New Zealand’s manufacturing industry.

“It is very hard for our manufacturers to compete with low-wage production in a country where there are no effective labour laws and weak environmental standards.

“The Green Party is critical of New Zealand giving such preferential treatment to a country with a very repressive political system.

“Six years ago Parliament voted down my International Treaties Bill, which would have given Parliament the right to approve all treaties.

“I am very pleased that in the case of the New Zealand/China free trade agreement the Government is going to allow Parliament to make the final decision on whether the treaty is implemented.”