Weekend Sun column

Friday, October 9, 2015

On Tuesday evening I held the second “People’s Question Time” for the year. These are an opportunity for constituents to come along and ask me any questions they may have about the Government’s policies and services, or simply share their thoughts on local and national issues.

These sessions are also a great way for me to find out what issues and concerns are on people’s minds, in addition to my constituency clinics and visiting local businesses and community organisations.

Not surprisingly, the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement was a topic of discussion. The agreement was successfully concluded earlier this week and will see significant benefits for the country. We will have better access to over 800 million potential customers in 11 countries, representing 40 per cent of the global economy. As a small nation at the bottom of the world, we are reliant on trade for a strong economy, higher wages, and more jobs.

TPP will contribute at least $2.7 billion a year to New Zealand’s economy by 2030 and save exporters $259 million a year in tariffs. For example, $15.3 million in annual tariffs at entry on kiwifruit will be removed, which is great news for Bay of Plenty growers.

Claims by opponents of the agreement have been proven unfounded. We have not given up our right to govern our own country and New Zealanders will not pay more for subsidised medicines. Arrangements are being made to release the full text before it is signed by Governments. Like any free trade agreement, it will go through the Parliamentary process before it takes effect.