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Minister Mocks Democratic Process

Media Release
4 December 2003

Minister Mocks Democratic Process

New Zealand First is calling on Health Minister Annette King to deny that the formation of a joint agency with Australia to regulate therapeutic medicines, before the completion of the select committee inquiry, is undemocratic.

“The Minister confirmed in the House today that the joint agency will go ahead,” said New Zealand First health spokesperson Pita Paraone.

“If this is the case, why are we going through the sham of a select committee inquiry? Not only is it a waste of time and taxpayer’s money, it also calls into question the democratic parliamentary process.

“If the government can hijack select committees so blatantly, what’s the point of having them, particularly when the committee has yet to complete its report of the inquiry,” said Mr Paraone.

“It is not good enough for the Minister to lament the time taken by the select committee to complete the inquiry, given that the majority of committee members, including the chairperson, are her colleagues.

“A joint agency with Australia will severely limit consumer choice in the alternative medicine market, and will create a monopoly situation for Australian manufacturers. Ordinary kiwis will be constrained in their choices because of suspect decision-making by the Minister.

“The extent of any benefits deriving from such an agency, and the consequences for New Zealand, are still to be determined by the committee.

“The Minister should be ashamed of the way she’s undermining the very foundations on which our society is built. Unfortunately such disrespect for democracy is what we’ve come to expect from this government,” said Mr Paraone.

ENDS

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