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Case For Aussie Rules On Dietary Supplements?

What’s The Case For Aussie Rules On Dietary Supplements?

Australia would dominate the Board of the new agency that the New Zealand Government is proposing to regulate health products in this country, law firm Chen Palmer & Partners told a briefing at Parliament today hosted by Citizens for Health Choices.

The proposed agency, an Australian-based Trans-Tasman Therapeutic Goods Agency, would make and enforce regulations on medicines, medical devices and dietary supplements. Its decisions would be binding in New Zealand and Australia.

A draft discussion document on the proposal has “not a lot of consideration of whether the arrangement actually protects New Zealand’s values,” lawyer Henry Weston told the briefing.

“There is a risk that Australian standards will simply prevail with no consideration of the costs and benefits to New Zealand.”

For example, the proposed Board is “stacked in favour of Australia,” Mr Weston said, referring to the proposal that three out of five of the Board members would be Australian. “There is no reason why there can’t be equality,” especially since the arrangement was supposed to be between two sovereign nations, Mr Weston said.

Further, the draft document on the proposal “has few arguments justifying the change”, Mr Weston said. He also questioned why no cost-benefit analysis had yet been done.

“There is much emphasis on “common’ outcomes, as though that in itself is a worthy endpoint,” Mr Weston said. “There is little focus on “good’ outcomes, why the proposal is good for New Zealand, and how the contrasting rules currently in place [in the two countries] will be reconciled.”

The Parliamentary Undersecretary to the Australian Minister of Health has described the proposed agency, which would be formed by a Treaty between New Zealand and Australia as unprecedented.

A discussion document on the proposal is to be published by the New Zealand Government this month.

Other issues raised by Chen Palmer & Partners include:

„P Whether Australia will accept New Zealand’s Official Information Act, or whether access to information on regulation of health products will be made under Australia’s more restrictive Freedom of Information Act.

„P Whether the Regulations Review Committee of the New Zealand Parliament will have any real oversight.

„P Whether New Zealanders should have to accept binding rulings on their medicines being made by Australian courts - and whether, as the paper proposes, Australians will be bound by decisions made by the New Zealand courts, including the Privy Council or proposed Supreme Court.

The proposal was an example of the “need to be given more assessment” ideas highlighted by a New Zealand Parliamentary Select Committee just last week, Mr Weston said. The Select Committee recommended that a new framework be developed for trans-Tasman relations that refers to international best practice.


Note: Citizens for Health Choices is a nationwide group comprising consumers of dietary supplements, industry representatives and natural health practitioners. It has been working for more than 10 years to retain informed consumer choice on dietary supplements.

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