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Minister 'continues to mislead to TPPA'

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Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

"Trade Minister Groser continues to mislead on the way that the TransPacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) would affect health" said Dr Gay Keating of Doctors for Healthy Trade. 

"Saying that the TPPA won’t stop government making health regulation is like saying that there is nothing to stop anyone buying a house in Auckland. The TPPA will make it much harder and much more expensive for Government to get to its goal of Smokefree Aotearoa by 2025." 

"Recent statements from the Minister have repeated carefully contrived half-truths. He keeps saying that the government will not be prevented from regulating in the public interest. That is simply misleading" said Dr Keating, a public health specialist and researcher. 

"Of course the TPPA won’t have a clause that New Zealand can’t make smokefree regulations. But the TPPA would let companies sue us if we followed World Health Organization advice and brought in stricter controls on tobacco. The TPPA would make it too expensive and too risky to bring in those law changes. The Minister is being misleading. Under the TPPA there will be nothing to stop us passing smokefree laws except the potentially exorbitant price tag" she said. 

The TPPA includes provisions for Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) that are currently in very few New Zealand treaties. Australia is fighting an ISDS case where it is being sued by tobacco giant Philip Morris over the law for plain packaging of cigarettes. Even if Australia eventually wins, the cost of defending their law will be high. It has already cost the Australian government $50 million for the first stage of the defence of regulating in the public interest. If Australia should lose the tobacco company could be awarded hundreds of millions dollars.

"Minister Groser needs to release the text and openly discuss the issues rather than indulging in name-calling. Instead of offering incomplete misleading statements and saying doctors and nurses are ‘breathless children’, he needs to answer our well founded concerns about the cost of medicines and tobacco control." Dr Keating said.

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