New Zealand's Ambassador to the United States, Mike Moore, went ahead an co-hosted a $1500 a head lobbying bash at the plush Willard InterContinental Hotel in Washington DC on Friday night, despite calls for him to follow the lead of Australian Ambassador Kim Beazley and decline to attend.
The "exclusive reception" was sponsored jointly by Philip Morris, PhRMA, Chevron Oil and Target, and was promoted as "a unique gathering designed to establish and strengthen the critical person connections at the highest level of state government with embassy and industry representatives".
Moore was an official co-host representing the ambassadors from the nine countries involved in the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement negotiations. Reportedly only five of the nine actually attended.
The event has outraged tobacco control advocates, public health campaigners, environmentalists and labour organisations who are campaigning against the TPPA.
Washington-based activists slipped past tight security at the Willard and handed spoof TPP menus to arriving guests with offerings that included
Offshoring Edameme a le GE, drizzled with Chevron Amazonian oil spills,
Teenage smoking salmon toast points a la Philip Morris, served with lawsuits against plain packaging laws, and
Pfizer Filet Mignon, with sauce of attacks on cost-savings medicine formularies.
University of Auckland Professor Jane Kelsey, who has been strongly critical of the TPPA negotiations, described it as "outrageous that the New Zealand ambassador was acting as host to corporate lobbyists who were buying access to TPP ambassadors, among others, to press their cause".
In a last-minute letter to New Zealand's ministers of foreign affairs and trade on Friday, New Zealand, time, she urged them to instruct Moore to pull out of the event, as Beazley had done.
Kelsey pointed to the government's assurances it would defend Pharmac against concerted attacks from big PhRMA attack in the TPPA negotiations, and its obligations under the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control to protect tobacco control policies from influence by the tobacco industry - at a time when Philip Morris is suing the Australian government over its plain packaging laws.
"If the government wants us to take seriously their assurances that they are looking after New Zealand's interests they need to censure Moore and ensure this conflict of interest never happens again".
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