Equity vice-president Todd Rippon speaks out against the TPPA
Speech by Equity Vice-President Todd Rippon at the anti-Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) rally, Wellington August 2015
My name is Todd Rippon, Vice President of Equity New Zealand (Making performers lives better). I'm going to set you a challenge today. I want you to answer a couple of questions. Question one: Name one New Zealand made drama currently screening on New Zealand television? Shortland Street? Ok, that was easy. Now, a little bit harder this time. Name another. I don't blame you if you can't. You can't because, for all intents and purposes, there isn't another one. The main reason we can't name another local drama on TV is because the National government signed a World Trade Organisation deal in 1994 which effectively made it illegal to introduce a local-content quota on our screens. Most, if not all, Western countries have some kind of compulsory local-content television quota to protect their culture, but not NZ, we signed that away.
People don’t often acknowledge the role our actors, our performers and technical professionals play in our national identity. It infuses who we are and gives us a sense of self and pride.In cultural terms, whether the forum is TV, film, theatre, music or the creative and technical efforts that underpin these endeavours, NZ must hold itself out as something more than just a service industry, picking up bits and pieces where it can. The cultural and the employment costs are simply too high.
The ability to speak to one another with our own voice must be maintained into the future.
Performer’s lives are directly affected by trade policy. We have been hit hard with the blunt end of a big stick by the international trade agreement in 1994. NZ performers know what it feels like. We know what it's like to be cast aside to make way for extremely rich US corporations.
Signing the TPPA will not only make a bad situation worse for us performers but it will make things worse for virtually every other aspect of our beautiful country, every aspect of our beautiful, tiny, vulnerable country. You name it; health, environment, education, treaty obligations… nothing will go untouched in the name of international profiteering. And, like us, when the majority of New Zealanders wake up to the fact they've been cheated out of their sovereign right to choose their own destiny, it will be too late. Don't let that happen. Let's make the government sit up and listen, starting today. And our main message today is: TPPA - Walk Away.
I believe this agreement is now so fraught with risks and perils that choosing to sign it is a mark of insanity and the issues involved are too weighty for mere policy makers and politicians to debate in secrecy. It's time they moved aside and let the people decide, and our decision is to walk away. TPPA - Walk Away.