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Stalled TPP a chance to take stock

Stalled TPP a chance to take stock and give democracy a chance

Public Health Association (PHA) media release, 6 August 2015

The Public Health Association says stalled TPP talks are an ideal opportunity for New Zealand to step back and reassess just what we could signing up to, now that details are starting to emerge. It also says New Zealand should join with Australia in refusing the clauses that would allow foreign investors to sue our government if our health or climate legislation interfered with their profits.

“Democracy shouldn't be this hard,” says PHA Chief Executive Warren Lindberg.

“The New Zealand public is entitled to information on the TTP proposals; what might be traded off; and exactly what the benefits might be.

“Emerging details raise a number of questions. For example, if the Government promises extra funding for medicines because Pharmac is unable to buy cheap generic drugs under the agreement, where will that funding come from? What other areas of public health expenditure will suffer as a result?”

Lindberg says Australia, at least in its present draft, has refused the investor state dispute settlement clauses inherent to the TPP and that this is a wise move we should follow.

“The implications of investor state litigation against New Zealand will be far-reaching, unpredictable, unaffordable and inconsistent with public health objectives. The cost of such lawsuits and any awards against New Zealand would be funded by the New Zealand taxpayer, and we’re already seeing this occur in countries like Canada, and in Australia where tobacco company litigation against plain packs is costing the country millions.

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“But the implications go far wider than tobacco. Investor-state provisions might constrain future governments on legislation around things like healthy food environments, alcohol restrictions and greenhouse gas emissions – anywhere the multinationals are making a buck.

“In circumstances like these governments may find it easier simply to forgo such measures, which could have massive implications for the health of New Zealanders and the world.”

Lindberg says the PHA does not oppose trade agreements, but the lack of transparency around them, especially when the stakes are so high.

“It is time to get the facts on the table and let New Zealanders have their say. We need access to the details about the proposals, and for them to be thoroughly and independently examined to be sure they really are in the interests of present and future generations of Kiwis, rather than rich overseas investors.”

The PHA calls for:

· informed and independent economic analysis of the benefits and costs of the TPP and its policy options

· ensuring our current and future sovereignty by striking out 'investor-state' litigation provisions from any agreement New Zealand signs.


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