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“Will your party hand over our right to make laws to the US?” ask doctors

OraTaiao: The NZ Climate and Health Council Wednesday 13 August 2014, 02:19PM

Media release from Ora Taiao: NZ Climate & Health Council

Doctors are calling on all political parties to immediately declare their position on the re-drafting of New Zealand’s laws that protect health under the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement.

Medical professionals concerned about the health risks from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Agreement, today reacted with shock at the revelations that New Zealand laws could be effectively re-written without the public’s knowledge by the United States.

A new website launched todayshows how trade deals such as the TPP have interfered with laws, pushing the commercial interests of United States ahead of other countries’ needs including health.

“Many of our laws form the building blocks for fair and healthy lives. These include laws that protect health through fair access to medicines, clean water, food and air, and well-functioning life-support systems like the climate.

Losing our sovereign right to create and strengthen these building blocks for health will make it extremely difficult for New Zealand to maintain and improve our quality of life”, says Dr Macmillan, Acting Co-Convenor of the NZ Climate & Health Council.

“New Zealand must have the freedom to make laws for New Zealanders’ best interests. We need to protect our access to affordable medicine with Pharmac, and be free to legislate to promote New Zealanders’ health now and into the future - without interference or re-writing from other countries”

Earlier this year over 250 senior health professionals signed an open letter of concern to the Prime Minister about the risks of the TPP.

The concerns included the way that trade agreements could stifle laws to protect against hazardous substances (such as plain packaging on tobacco), interfere with environmental health and safety legislation or block necessary controls on excessive use of drugs manufactured by transnational companies.

“Like the Director General of the World Health Organisation Dr Margaret Chan we are particularly disturbed by ‘the use of foreign investment agreements to handcuff governments and restrict their policy space’. We’ve had bland reassurances that the TPP offers no problems for health, but these are especially hollow in the light of new revelations that the TPP will allow off-shore interests to meddle with our health-protecting regulations designed” Dr Macmillan said.

“Every political party needs to publicly state their position on the TPP before this election, including whether they agree with New Zealand’s laws being ‘certified’ by the United States” she said.

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