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Shamefully short deadline for scrutiny of CPTPP

Shamefully short deadline for scrutiny of international trade deal

“The absurdly short deadline for submissions on an international trade deal with far-reaching implications for health delivery in New Zealand shows the Government is not serious about scrutinising the deal properly,” says Ian Powell, Executive Director of the Association of Salaried Medical Specialists (ASMS).

“It’s shameful that people and organisations with considerable concern about the ramifications of the deal have just a fortnight to put their case before Parliament’s decision-makers. As well, it looks as if Labour is backpedalling on its previous support for an independent health impact assessment on the impact of the deal on New Zealand’s public health system.”

He was commenting on Parliament’s call for submissions by 28 March of the trade deal formerly known as the TPPA and now renamed the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPATPP) (https://www.parliament.nz/en/pb/sc/make-a-submission/document/52SCFD_SCF_ITE_76583/international-treaty-examination-of-the-comprehensive-and).

Senior doctors – and many others – have repeatedly expressed concern about the likely impact of the deal on health decision-making and delivery, and have called for an independent health impact assessment (eg, https://www.asms.org.nz/news/asms-news/2017/10/30/not-just-housing-affected-tppa-prime-minister-dont-forget-health/ and https://www.asms.org.nz/news/asms-news/2018/03/01/senior-doctors-remind-government-pre-election-support-independent-health-assessment/).

Mr Powell says the Labour Party in Opposition called on the then Government to commit to an independent health impact assessment and for this to be made available before the agreement was signed.

“Failing to honour its commitment to an independent assessment is not a good look for a new government. Senior doctors, like others, want to be sure the Government isn’t signing over the family house to the profit-driven vested interests of big international corporates – but by rushing the process and not scrutinising the implications properly, we can’t be confident of that.

“So much of the Government’s claims of a better deal rest on several features of the previous agreement ‘suspended’ due to the United States ripping it up. But if President Trump was not re-elected 2020, impeached before then or was to change his mind, our health system would be at serious risk. The prospect of one of these three possible outcomes occurring is high.

“In the end, if the Government gets this wrong, it will be patient care and communities that suffer. That’s a hell of a risk to take without a proper assessment.”

He says ASMS will be making a submission but it will be brief due to the tight timeframe.

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