The New Zealand Nurses Organisation (NZNO) warns that the “mega-treaty”, the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA), is a potential threat to New Zealand’s health system and urges the government to release the text of the agreement.
NZNO president Nano Tunnicliff is critical of the secrecy surrounding the negotiations and stresses the importance of transparency and wide consultation before any sign-off takes place.
TPPA negotiations are due to resume in Chile on February 14 and the Prime Minister has signalled the government “...will continue efforts to conclude these negotiations”.
Tunnicliff warns that the TPPA poses a number of potential threats to New Zealand’s public health system.
“Drug-buying agency, PHARMAC’s ability to purchase cheaper, generic drugs would be threatened and that may mean that New Zealanders no longer get the treatment they need. There is the threat of further privatisation of the Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC) and threats to health policies aimed at regulating the marketing and sale of cigarettes and alcohol,” Tunnicliff says.
“We can only understand the TPPA and its potential implications for our health system, employment laws and a whole range of other policies, if the text of the agreement is released.
“The TPPA has potentially far-reaching consequences for our society. Alcohol addiction expert, psychiatrist Doug Sellman, warns the TPPA could severely limit New Zealand’s ability to regulate the marketing and sale of alcohol. Auckland University law professor Jane Kelsey warns that the world’s largest tobacco company, Philip Morris International, will target any TPPA country contemplating restrictions on the marketing and sale of cigarettes. We need to pressure the Government to be more open with the public about the implications of the TPPA,” Tunnicliff says.
“We don’t want our government’s ability to reduce these health hazards compromised. As nurses, we have a responsibility to speak out against anything that could weaken the health of our country.”