Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Can She Say That, Dr Brash?

Following on from my previous post...

Doing some research for a possible article on relations between New Zealand and Chile (one of the reasons why I've been rather quiet in blogland of late), I came across this article from 2003 by Auckland law professor Jane Kelsey.

This was back when New Zealand and Chile were still negotiating a free trade deal (it's now signed and sealed, with Singapore and Brunei the other parties). The version of Kelsey's article I spotted has been translated into Spanish, but it basically says that a free trade deal would be a bad idea for small Chilean producers, women, indigenous communities, cute furry animals, etc, as they would be overrun by powerful, rapacious New Zealand multinationals (yes, we have two).*

I generally don't agree wholly with this kind of kneejerk anti-globalisation, though she is correct that this deal is less about trade - since both countries produce similar products and have very low tariffs anyway - than what Helen Clark herself has referred to as a "strategic alliance".

But the point is: as a high-profile, internationally renowned, professor of law with academic tenure (see this post for an amusing perspective on how to get through her classes), Kelsey was making a far more effective attempt to sabotage "New Zealand interests" - guided by what she believes are set of more universal principles - than any poor Muslim immigrant tapping out letters to foreign newspapers saying "don't buy our stuff".

So, in light of his comments in the Herald article, I have these questions for Don Brash:

1. Putting aside any question of disagreement on the issues of substance, does he agree that Professor Kelsey, as a New Zealander, "can't" undermine her country's economic interests as she attempted to do here? If so, what action would he take to stop her from doing this, were he Prime Minister?**

2. If he believes that Professor Kelsey has a right to subvert New Zealand's export interests, but that the Muslim immigrant in question does not, how does he justify this distinction?

3. Should his response to (2) be along the lines of the immigrant "owing" New Zealand a higher standard of loyalty than a natural-born citizen, how does this square with the fact that immigrants on average pay more in tax than they receive in public services, while Professor Kelsey's 30-year career has been built largely through a publicly-funded institution?

*From the article: "...any commerical gain will do nothing more than increase the inequality between and within the two countries, openly favouring New Zealand companies..."

**Yes, I know there are many out there in the blogosphere would happily send Jane Kelsey to Siberia; the question is [hypothetically] for Dr Brash.

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