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Petition Shows Broad Support For Consumer Choice

13 June 2002

Media statement


Petition Shows Broad Support For Consumer Choice

The Greens’ petition tabled in Parliament today demonstrates the wide public support for retaining access to safe, affordable dietary supplements, according to grassroots lobby group Citizens for Health Choices.

Over 30,000 people signed the petition, which opposes the current Government’s proposal to join with Australia to create an unprecedented “joint agency” to make and enforce access to dietary supplements in both countries.

“The Discussion Document released last week by the Government confirms that the Minister of Health is planning to hand over her control to an unelected, unaccountable bureaucrat based in Australia,” said Gary Mabey, Joint Co-ordinator of the nationwide group Citizens for Health Choices.

“The proposal would inevitably increase costs and decrease choice for New Zealand consumers - all for no improvement in consumer safety,” he said.

“Unnecessary restrictions also threaten the viability of dozens of New Zealand businesses - manufacturers, importers, distributors and retailers - and the jobs of the hundreds of people they employ.

“Fortunately, political support for consumer choice in health has multi-party backing.

“Apart from the support of the Greens, both ACT and New Zealand First are publicly opposing any move to adopt Australian-style over-regulation.

“We eagerly await the National Party’s policy on this matter of consumer choice.

“Freedom of choice in health matters is an election issue. We strongly urge voters to ask their local candidates about their party’s position, and to take the answer into account when they cast their votes,” Mr Mabey said.

ENDS

Notes:

1. 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.

2. Previous media statements on political and consitutional aspects of the Government’s proposal are attached for your reference.

3. The discussion document was released by the Government on Friday 7 June, and can be accessed via www.jtaproject.com. Submissions close on 2 August 2002.

For more information:

Gary Mabey

Joint Co-ordinator

Citizens for Health Choices

(09) 415 8624 - work

(09) 420 5800 - home

2 May 2002

Media statement

For immediate release

BROAD SUPPORT FOR PROTECTING CONSUMER CHOICE

Growing momentum to protect New Zealand consumers from draconian Australian rules on dietary supplements emerged at Parliament today.

“It is gratifying that Members of Parliament from across the political spectrum are lining up to ensure that New Zealand consumers continue to have access to the dietary supplements of their choice,” said Gary Mabey, Joint Co-ordinator of Citzens for Health Choices.

At a briefing at Parliament today, three political parties - ACT, New Zealand First and the Greens - opposed moves by the New Zealand Government to regulate dietary supplements under a proposed Trans-Tasman Therapeutic Goods Agency.

The Government is to release a discussion document this month on the agency, which would have the power to make and enforce regulations on medicines, medical devices and dietary supplements. Its regulations would be binding in New Zealand and Australia.

Under the proposal, the Minister of Health would hand over her control to an unelected, unaccountable bureaucrat based in Australia, Mr Mabey said.

The proposal is “a sell-out to Australian industry and heavy-handed regulation,” said ACT deputy leader Ken Shirley. “It creates expensive red tape for dietary supplements.”

Green MP Sue Kedgley said it was important to protect and enhance consumer safety, but the proposal was “an absurd and idiotic way to go about it”. She added: “It is a scandalous undermining of our sovereignty.”

New Zealand First Leader Winston Peters said that his caucus “is firmly opposed to any harmonisation of therapeutic goods between New Zealand and Australia¡K The New Zealand Government should not be led by the decisions of Australia or any other country. Rather, it should make decisions on fundamental issues such as health solely in the best interest of New Zealanders.”

ENDS

For more information:

Gary Mabey

Joint Co-ordinator

Citizens for Health Choices

(09) 420 5800

2 May 2002

Media statement

For immediate release

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.

ENDS

For more information:

Gary Mabey

Joint Co-ordinator

Citizens for Health Choices

(09) 420 5800

Henry Weston

Chen Palmer & Partners

(04) 499 8990


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