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TPPA Les Howard

TPPA Les Howard

Grey Power has greeted the failure of big international corporates to break the New Zealand and Australian resolve on patent protections on biologics in the final outcome of the Trans Pacific Partnership negotiations with cautious optimism.

Grey Power spokesman on the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPPA) saga, Les Howard of Timaru, said he had no doubt the price for the victory on pharmaceuticals was the failure of New Zealand negotiators to break the tariff barrier for dairy products into the lucrative North American market. “I have little doubt that, if we had gained access to the North American dairy market, the New Zealand negotiators would have capitulated on pharmaceutical tariffs. As it is we have been assured that prices will not increase for essential medicines but they haven’t told us which medicines will not be available because of price hikes,” he said.

Mr Howard said, while he had some sympathy for the hard pressed New Zealand dairy industry, the trade off in unaffordable medicines for senior people would have been too high. “As it is there is strong public opinion that the dairy industry is already too big for our environment to cope with and we should not let it get too much bigger.”

Official announcements, following the final drawn out stages of the long running and controversial negotiations, claim the agreement will deliver significant benefits to New Zealand with more jobs, higher incomes, and provide a better standard of living for New Zealanders. Prime Minister John Key has also said the deal will give New Zealand exporters improved access to more than 800 million customers in 11 countries.

Mr Howard said it would take time before those claims could be verified. “So far, New Zealanders have been told very little about what they were being committed to and that was unforgivable,” he said.

Mr Howard said it was particularly galling that lobbyists for many big international corporates has almost continual access to political negotiators and the details of the discussions throughout the process while consumers and taxpayers where deliberately kept in the dark. “There is a very real suspicion that this whole process has been driven from behind by the big corporates and, while there may be significant benefits for New Zealand business interests, there seems to be little in it for the ordinary people.” This has been proven with the dairy industry promising many jobs for workers and when established turning to robotics to increase incomes at the expense of the workers and the meat industry now following suit. One wonders just what our politicians refer to when saying the deal is good for New Zealand. Just who do they believe is the New Zealand they refer to. The same people could also be at risk if some pharmaceuticals were no longer available because perhaps they could not be purchased at the cost we can afford.

The final agreement will now be presented to Parliament and go through a select committee process before final ratification. “At that stage we will get to know what has been agreed to on our behalf but it will be too late to make any real changes. From what little has been leaked out it seems our freedom to put real restrictions on tobacco and sugar drinks for example, will be seriously compromised. The pity is that we don’t have a New Zealand constitution to place some control on politicians in these secret ventures.


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