The Government is negotiating an international agreement called the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA). It involves 11 Asian and Pacific-rim countries, including the United States. If the TPPA goes ahead, there are widespread concerns about its potential damage to New Zealand’s economy, environment, health-care, food safety, information access, workers’ rights, and other matters of public interest.
Policies driven by ideology rather than principle are placing more and more pressure on the least well off, Bishop Charles Drennan told a crowd of 500 at Palmerston North Square on Saturday 7 March. They had gathered for a march to protest the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement.
Bishop Charles has previously invited parishes to join him on marches in his Diocese calling on the Government to be transparent about the full implications of the trade agreement being negotiated in secret.
‘Absolute freedom to market, anything, anyhow, is not in our interests,’ Bishop Charles told the recent gathering. ‘It most certainly is not a right of global business interests to trump an elected government’s duty to govern a nation’s economy broadly in accord with the wishes of its citizens’.
Joining Bishop Charles on the march were members of the Palmerston North Diocesan Commission for Justice, Peace and Development; members of the Catholic Worker movement and representatives of parishes of the Palmerston North Diocese.
Bishop Charles expressed concern at the growing gap between rich and poor, and of economic policies that favour those already wealthy. Quoting Pope Francis’ criticism of economic theories that wealth will eventually trickle down to the low paid, Bishop Charles said the only people who should be taking that theory seriously ‘are the writers of the “yeah right” billboard campaign’.
He told participants that protests were often ‘a series of nos’ so he was offering some ‘yeses’.
‘Yes to fairness and justice. Yes to a vision of our world that upholds a united global family, which respects rather than squashes regional goals and aspirations. Yes to the gift of creation…to the duty of using the resources of this land with respect to our creator God and with love of our future generations, our mokopuna.’
Simone Olsen is Communications Adviser, NZ Catholic Bishops.