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Leaked TPPA documents and the limp Alcohol Reform Bill

Media Release – 14th June 2012

Leaked TPPA documents and the limp Alcohol Reform Bill

Can Hon Tim Groser, Minister of Trade, reassure us all that the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) will not prevent the government enacting effective new alcohol laws to combat the heavy drinking culture in New Zealand, involving price, marketing, accessibility and drink-driving?

Alcohol Action NZ has written to Hon Tim Groser today (see attached letter) seeking urgent reassurance on two key points:

1. That the TPPA will not prevent this or any future New Zealand government enacting laws related to the pricing, marketing or accessibility of alcohol or drink-driving that could negatively impact on a global alcohol corporation’s alcohol business in New Zealand;

2. That the TPPA will not allow global alcohol corporations to sue this or any future New Zealand government if it enacted such laws.

“We were moved to write to the Minister today when we heard in the media of the leaked draft text of the investment chapter of the TPPA. It appears to allow global alcohol corporations to sue the New Zealand government if new alcohol laws were introduced that reduced the profit from their alcohol business in New Zealand” said Prof Jennie Connor, medical spokesperson for Alcohol Action NZ.

“We have been in correspondence with the Minister for 12 months about the TPPA and have not yet been reassured that effective alcohol law reform that would deal with the excessive commercialisation of alcohol could be enacted in New Zealand under the provisions of the TPPA without putting the government at risk of being sued by global alcohol corporations”.



“The Alcohol Reform Bill as it stands will have little impact on the heavy drinking culture in New Zealand” added Prof Doug Sellman, another spokesperson for Alcohol Action NZ, “because it is not targeting the main cause, which is the excessive commercialisation of alcohol, especially the excessive promotion and availability of alcohol”.

“We are now wondering whether part of the reason the Alcohol Reform Bill is so limp, is because the strong and effective measures involving alcohol pricing, marketing and accessibility as well as drink-driving, would put the Government at risk of being sued by global alcohol corporations under the TPPA”.

“We look forward to swift reassurance from the Minister”.

--


Dear Minister

Re: Alcohol and the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA)

Further to our correspondence on this topic over the past twelve months, we were moved to write again today when we heard in the media about a leaked draft text of the investment chapter of the TPPA. It is thought that the agreement will allow global alcohol corporations to sue the New Zealand government if new alcohol laws that reduced the profit from their alcohol business in New Zealand were enacted.

We felt somewhat reassured by your media comments today in the same way we were only somewhat reassured by your previous written comments to us that “One of the key priorities will be to preserve New Zealand’s ability to regulate for public health purposes…”

However, in your latest correspondence with us you pointed to the measures in the current Alcohol Reform Bill as being the sort of measures that are within the parameters of the TPPA. That is our concern; the measures in the current Alcohol Reform Bill will be largely ineffective in reducing alcohol-related harm in New Zealand, because they will have little impact on the excessive commercialisation of alcohol in New Zealand.

We are therefore seeking urgent written clarification and reassurance on two points:

1. That the TPPA will not prevent this or any future New Zealand government making laws related to the pricing, marketing or accessibility of alcohol or drink-driving that could negatively impact on a global alcohol corporation’s alcohol business in New Zealand;

2. That the TPPA will not allow global alcohol corporations to sue this or any future New Zealand government if it enacted such laws.

Thank you in anticipation of a swift response.


Yours faithfully


Prof Doug Sellman Prof Jennie Connor
Director, National Addiction Centre Head, Dept of Preventive & Social Medicine
University of Otago, Christchurch University of Otago, Dunedin


Copies: All Members of Parliament, NZ Media


ENDS

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