National Party members on the Health Select Committee have now twice refused to allow experts to brief the committee about possible effects of the Trans Pacific Partnership on New Zealand’s ability to determine its own health policies, says Labour’s Health spokesperson Maryan Street.
“We have been approached on two separate occasions by people or organisations with concerns about the implications of the TPP on our smoke-free policies.
“On both occasions, National MPs have refused to support a call to hear from these experts.
“The first was on August 22, when they voted against a motion to invite Prof Jane Kelsey to brief the committee on the implications of the Australian experience of Philip Morris’s legal action against them, and any other issues to be aware of with respect to the TPP and possible impacts on smoke free policies.
“Then on August 29, they voted against a motion moved in response to the New Zealand Nurses’ Organisation who asked if it could bring Dr Deborah Gleeson to brief committee members on possible impacts of the TPP on public health policies more generally.
“This deliberate and persistent refusal to be informed by people who know more about these issues than we do, smacks of a cover up and is not the kind of behaviour MPs should be engaging in.
“We need to be informed of all views if we are to do our jobs properly. We may not agree with evidence before us, but how will we know if we don’t hear it?
“What are they afraid of? People are asking us questions about these issues. If we can’t be informed about how trade agreements might or might not impact on future health policies, then what are we doing on the Health Select Committee?”
Source: Office of Maryan Street.