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Just how close should Australia & NZ be?

26 October 2004

Just how close should Australia & New Zealand be?

CER under the microscope at Sydney Health Conference

Both the New Zealand and Australian governments will face a public backlash, if they continue to ‘merge by stealth’ without the express approval of the public, says a leading New Zealand lawyer.

Amy Adams - spokesperson for the New Zealand Health trust - was in Sydney to give a presentation at the 14th National Health Summit on the pitfalls of the Trans Tasman Agency proposed to regulate natural health products.

“The current proposal is one of harmonisation, not mutual recognition,” Ms Adams said. “ Instead of the two countries recognising and respecting other, as was the agreed basis of The agreement on Closer Economic Relations (CER), Australia has demanded that New Zealand adopt its system or face a trade barrier for our goods.”

“I know for a fact that our MP’s are being told that this is critical to the relationship between our two countries, and if we don’t tow the line, CER is… if not dead ….certainly on life support.”

Ms Adams believes that this type of bullying by Australia is not only against the spirit of CER, but illegal under World Trade organisations rules. “Frankly, it looks very much as though Australia ignores CER when it suits, but insists on it when Australia will win at NZ’s expense,” she told delegates to the conference.

“We strongly believe that the New Zealand public has not had a chance to consider the implications of this and other ‘incremental’ changes to our constitutional law system.”

Ms Adams said she was NOT opposed to moving closer to Australia if the NZ public decided it was a good idea. “But both Governments should be on notice that New Zealanders will not put up with it being imposed by stealth.”

ENDS

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