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Greens urge Govt to reject unfortunate experiment

Fri, 18 June 2004

Greens urge Govt to reject 'unfortunate experiment'

The Green Party is calling on the Government not to ratify a Trans-Tasman treaty establishing a Joint Therapeutics Agency, in the face of mounting evidence that the proposed agency will disadvantage consumers, small businesses and taxpayers.

The Health Select Committee today tabled its report on its treaty examination of an agreement between Australia and New Zealand to establish a joint scheme for the regulation of therapeutic products. Green MP and deputy chairperson of the Health Select Committee, Sue Kedgley said she shared the concerns of the majority of members about the proposed agency.

"More and more evidence is coming to light that joining the agency would be an unfortunate experiment for New Zealand that will result in higher prices for medicines and dietary supplements and less consumer choice," Ms Kedgley said.

"Clearly it is not in the national interest of New Zealand to join up to this highly bureaucratic, Australian-dominated agency, over which our Parliament will have no effective control."

"In return for handing over control and sovereignty of the New Zealand therapeutics industry, we will get higher compliance costs, less consumer choice, fewer cheaper, generic medicines. We would also wipe out many flourishing small dietary supplements businesses."

Ms Kedgley said it was unprecedented that an agency in one country would have total control to regulate and enforce an industry in another country.

Ms Kedgley noted that the Agency would be set up under Australian domestic law, headquartered in Canberra and staffed principally by Australians. It would have unprecedented powers to set policy, monitor, enforce and police the entire therapeutics industry.

"Matters of principle and policy that ought to be dealt with in the New Zealand Parliament would be delegated to an un-elected and unaccountable official in the Australian based agency," said Ms Kedgley.

"While it is undoubtedly in the interests of Australian businesses to extend their market to New Zealand, it is clearly not in the interests of New Zealand small businesses, or New Zealand consumers.

"Instead of indulging in this unfortunate experiment, the government should develop a cost effective, New Zealand based regulatory regime for dietary supplements and continue with the existing system of registering pharmaceuticals and medical devices."

ENDS

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