NBR | 29 September 2015
NBR Radio Special: Jane Kelsey on TPP legal action
Auckland law professor Jane Kelsey told NBR Radio she is challenging an “unlawful” government decision to deny an official trade document request.
The High Court in Wellington is hearing an application for a judicial review brought by Professor Kelsey, Consumer New Zealand, Oxfam and the Association of Salaried Medical Specialists.
The case is in response to the government’s refusal to release the draft negotiation documents of the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) despite Professor Kelsey’s request through Official Information Act channels.
Professor Kelsey claims the decision to withhold the information was unlawful and had “concerning precedents.”
“The approach that was taken [to deny the request], as well as the considerations that led to the minister to reach that conclusion, is what we’re challenging,” she says.
The government has defended its decision by saying it is obliged to withhold the documents by a strict confidentiality agreement with the 12 other members of the TPP negotiations.
“One of my concerns is this response removes accountability from the decision makers. That’s not just an issue for the TPP negotiations but also an issue more broadly.”
If the review goes ahead, it will “hopefully bring about a shift in government behaviour and mind-set” in regards to future multilateral negotiations, Professor Kelsey says.