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We live in interesting political times.  According to Chinese folklore that is not always a good thing. Charles Finny reports on the latest political and trade news.

It is looking as though we are in for a bigger Cabinet re-shuffle than might have been expected.  The announced retirement of Hekia Parata is the reason for this.  The Prime Minister is already signaling in public that he will need a Minister of Education to serve right through 2017 so he will need to replace Minister Parata at the start of the year.  There is also talk that he is contemplating an election earlier than November.
Meanwhile the Mt Roskill by-election is going to be important.  A win by National would give the National Party the ability to pass legislation with just the support of ACT.    While Phil Goff won the electorate 18,637 to 10,546 at the last General Election National won the party vote 14,275 to Labour’s 12,086.
TPP is in effect on life support.  The Obama Administration was preparing a Bill on ratification for introduction during the “lame duck” period.  Given the decisive Trump victory, attempts to pass a Bill ratifying an Agreement that Trump so strongly opposes is both inappropriate and unlikely to garner any support from the Republican Party.  Why buy a fight with the new President?
European trade policy credibility also took a hit over the past two weeks with Belgium almost being unable to support the FTA with Canada.  This support came through at last minute but shows how vulnerable these agreements are to opposition in member state parliaments.  This is not good news for the proposed New Zealand – EU FTA negotiation.
Deputy Prime Minister English has obviously been approached by the Australians about the possibility of a joint negotiation with the UK on a post-Brexit FTA.  Some would argue strongly that this may not be a good idea given Australia’s track record of accepting poor FTA outcomes.  The good news is that the UK seems keen on a negotiation with New Zealand.
The PM held hopeful discussions with his Indian counterpart on the India-New Zealand FTA.  A new round of negotiations has been agreed.  But can Prime Minister Modi change his officials?  Indian Prime Ministers have tried but failed in the past.
Resource Management Reform
The Government has had a breakthrough in its negotiations with the Maori Party and has decided to press ahead with Nick Smith’s RMA Reform Bill – the Resource Legislation Amendment Bill.  It has now been referred back to Select Committee and we expect a report back early next year.
The Government, probably with wide support in Parliament, will almost certainly be introducing special legislation overriding the RMA, for the restoration of road and rail links along the east coast of the South Island. Ministers Bridges and Joyce have visited Centreport and are of the view that the Centreport response will also need to be encompassed within this legislation.





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