Gordon Campbell | Parliament TV | Parliament Today | News Video | Crime | Employers | Housing | Immigration | Legal | Local Govt. | Maori | Welfare | Unions | Youth | Search

 


Negotiations put multinational profits before health

Negotiations put multinational profits before health, say health professionals


More than 270 healthcare professionals from around New Zealand have signed an open letter to the Prime Minister published in the Dominion Post today, warning of the threat to New Zealanders’ health from the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA).

Leaked text of the TPPA chapter on investment contains major provisions saying that business interests can sue governments for billions of dollars if a country introduces a law and a foreign investor would lose substantial value or profits. These provisions in the trade agreements (called Investor State Dispute Settlement) apply irrespective of what the business is and say that government regulation must not get in the way of investors’ profit.

"We all know smoking is dangerous, yet cigarette companies have used trade and investment agreements in other countries to aggressively defend their profits with expensive law suits over plain packaging laws," says Professor Alistair Woodward from the School of Population Health, University of Auckland.

Currently Australia is being sued because our neighbours have introduced cigarette plain packaging.

The World Health Organization has just warned about the major risks of antibiotic resistance worldwide and said that countries must take action. Countries everywhere need to change the controls on antibiotics, keeping use for serious infection. But the TPPA agreement says that can be liable to legal action if there is a loss of foreign investor profits.

Likewise, regulating fossil fuels to reduce climate change, a major threat to global health, will be very difficult. Threats of legal action are used to make governments back off adopting such laws. The leaked text shows there are no effective protections that put public policy considerations first.

“Too few people realise that the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement undermines New Zealand’s ability to pass laws to protect our safety and health,” says Associate Professor Papaarangi Reid, Head of Department, Te Kupenga Hauora Maori at the University of Auckland.

“Under the TPPA, passing laws to ban or control harmful substances that limit the profits of foreign investors means New Zealand taxpayers risk being sued for millions,” she adds.

Dr Erik Monasterio, a Canterbury psychiatrist and author of the recent New Zealand Medical Journal TPPA article, says that this will have a chilling effect on governments who will be reluctant to regulate in contentious areas where industry resources are large.

“The ISDS may cripple the functions of PHARMAC’s independent advisory committees. Just the public release of their objective clinical advice is a risk [this is too obscure] when it conflicts with industry interests in pharmaceutical markets overseas,” he says.

Signatures for the open letter have flooded in over just a few days, coinciding with the latest meeting of TPPA negotiators in Vietnam from 12 to 15 May, followed by a meeting of ministers in Singapore on 19 to 20 May. Health professionals, from internationally respected professors to medical students at the start of their careers, expressed their alarm that this far-reaching agreement will allow foreign commercial interests to take precedence over New Zealanders’ health.

About the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement

The TPPA is a proposed trade agreement between New Zealand, Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Peru, Mexico, Malaysia, Singapore, United States, and Vietnam. The TPPA is intended to enhance trade and investment among the TPP partner countries, promote innovation, economic growth and development, and support the creation and retention of jobs. It has been criticised globally by health professionals, internet freedom activists, environmentalists, organised labour, advocacy groups, and elected officials, in large part because of the proceedings' secrecy, the agreement's expansive scope, and controversial clauses in drafts leaked publicly.

ends


© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines

 

Professor Ian Shirley: The Budget That Failed Auckland

The 2016 budget offered Auckland nothing in the way of vision or hope and it continued the National Government’s threats against the Auckland Council. Threatening the Council with over-riding its democratic processes if it fails to release land for housing is a bullying tactic aimed at diverting attention away from the fundamental problems with housing in the region. More>>

ALSO:

PM's Post Cab Presser: Budgets, Trusts And Pacific Diplomacy

Today Prime Minister John Key summarised last week’s budget and provided further detail about his upcoming trip to Fiji. He said that there has been “plenty going on” in the last couple of weeks and emphasised the need for Auckland council to facilitate more housing supply. More>>

ALSO:

Max Rashbrooke: A Failure Of Measurement: Inside The Budget Lock-Up

Shortly after the embargo lifted at 2pm news organisations started filing reports claiming that health, and to a lesser extent housing and education, were the ‘big winners’ out of the Budget. It failed to take into account the fact that in most cases the apparent increases were in fact cuts. Because of the twin effects of inflation and population. More>>

ALSO:

DOCtored Figures: Minister Clarifies DOC Budget

“Commentators have overlooked the fact $20.7m of that perceived shortfall is new funding for Battle for our Birds 2016, provided for in last week’s Budget...” DOC also has approval in principle to carry over a further $20m to 16/17 due to unexpected delays in a number of projects. More>>

ALSO:

For The Birds: Gordon Campbell On The Budget

Budgies, so their Wikipedia page says, are popular pets around the world due to their small size, low cost, and ability to mimic human speech. Which is a reasonably good description of Finance Minister Bill English eighth Budget. . More>>

Max Rashbrooke On The 2016 Budget

The best label for this year’s announcement by Bill English might be the ‘Bare Minimum Budget’. It does the bare minimum to defuse potential political damage in a range of areas – homelessness and health are prime among them – but almost nothing to address the country’s most deep-rooted, systemic social problems. Indeed the Budget hints that these problems may get worse. More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On Bank Scandals (And Air Crashes)

Last month, the Australian Securities and Investment Commission (ASIC) filed proceedings against Westpac over activities that have some distinct echoes of the Libor scandal. More>>

Budget: Health Funding Must Keep Up With Need

NZNO: “The nursing team has been doing more with less for years. It’s getting to the point that we’re really worried about our colleagues, our patients, our jobs and the level of health care available for people in our country." More>>

ALSO:

Emissions Inventory: Time For The Government To Do The Right Thing

It’s time for the National Government to step up and do the right thing to reduce climate pollution as data shows New Zealand’s greenhouse gas emissions are higher than ever, the Green Party said today. More>>

ALSO:

Get More From Scoop

 

LATEST HEADLINES

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Politics
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news