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Fairness of Parliament Inquiry Questioned

Media Statement
3 May 2006

Fairness of Parliament Inquiry Questioned

Parliament’s Health Select Committee is being urged to correct recent media coverage that indicates the Committee has already made up its mind before it starts an inquiry into obesity and type 2 diabetes.

In the media coverage, the committee’s Chairman, Sue Kedgley, is quoted as saying the Committee would investigate options such as banning promotional toys given with foods and banning children’s fast food combo meals.

Mark Champion, Chief Executive of the Communication Agencies Association of New Zealand (CAANZ), said the public should be concerned that the Committee was talking about specific solutions before it had even started considering the evidence.

“The public want Select Committee inquiries to be transparent intellectual quests for truth.

“The public do not expect people undertaking such roles to be talking about the results even before they start logically working through the problem.

“The Committee has accurately outlined the terms of reference for the inquiry – which steps through full consideration of the extent of obesity and diabetes, how it might be caused, and what solutions exist or need to be created to deal with it.

“Ms Kedgley already seems to be prepared to operate outside that route of intellectually rigorous inquiry."

Mr Champion said it was a serious breach of protocol for Ms Kedgley to expose her personal beliefs in a way that indicated she may seek to influence the Committee toward a certain outcome.

He said that although Ms Kedgley had said, when appointed to the role, that she was ‘looking forward to chairing this important Parliamentary committee in a fair and impartial way’, it appeared Ms Kedgley had already made up her mind on some subjects which would appear before the Committee.

He said Ms Kedgley did not have a record of impartiality on the advertising of food:

- In February this year, Ms Kedgley called for controls on food ads on television

- Six months earlier she called for a Government ban on advertising to children

- In May last year, she said food was to blame for child obesity and the government needed to ban advertising of it to children.

- In June last year she hit out at food company sponsorship of community projects.


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