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Comvita's Chairman Wants To See NZ Get Fair Deal

News Release August 1, 2002

Comvita's Chairman Wants To See New Zealand Get A Fair Deal

The new president of the National Nutritional Foods Association, Bill Bracks, of Te Puke, said today he hopes New Zealand gets equal representation on a proposed trans-Tasman agency that will regulate complementary healthcare products and therapeutic goods.

Bracks, who is also chairman of honey-based products manufacturer Comvita New Zealand, says a submission document required by the governments of New Zealand and Australia has been completed by NNFA and will be lodged this week. The submission is in response to a 195-page regulation discussion paper issued by Medsafe (MOH) in June.

"The Aussies are up to their usual tricks, " says Bracks. "They're pushing to have three representatives on the agency's board and to limit New Zealand to two.

"The agreed policy needs to be acceptable to both governments, and the governance of the new entity needs to be fair to both parties as it's a joint agency to be formed by two sovereign nations."

Bracks says the far-reaching implications of the issue of regulation of complementary health products are such that an even-handed approach is required by both governments. He says any approach should be based on risk assessment principles.

"The proposed regulations will have wide-ranging impact on the healthcare products industry and consumers in this country. "Under the proposed regulations, it would be uneconomic for 40 to 50 per cent of those currently in business in this industry to remain in business. The regulations are bad news and unaffordable for the little guy. They'll stifle innovation."

The new NNFA president says his appointment will mean a lot more work in the new regulatory climate. He sees the need for New Zealanders to be vigilant in avoiding Australianisation of the complementary health products industry while ensuring high quality products and consumer safety are protected and affordable.

Bracks adds that Comvita is a member of the NNFA and his appointment, which follows two years on the organisation's board, reflects the leadership role Comvita plays in the industry.

Since joining Comvita 12 years ago, he estimates the percentage of New Zealanders taking complementary health products has jumped from around 45 per cent (then) to around 65 per cent (now).

"There's a growing awareness of health and a definite trend toward self-medication. Complementary healthcare is about wellness to deter illness."

When Bracks is not lobbying for better health, he can be found on the golf course or trout fishing. He and his wife Gwen have two adult children.


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