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Therapeutics Bill shelving 'victory' - more news
Long hard victory won by health suppporters
Therapeutics bill shelving 'victory' - opponents | Monday, 16 July 2007 (as reported by stuff.co.nz) Opponents of controversial plans to establish a joint agency with Australia to regulate therapeutic products have hailed the Government's official admission it cannot get the bill through Parliament. State Services Minister Annette King said the Therapeutics Products and Medicine Bill would remain on the Government's legislative programme but not would be revisited until parliamentary support was available. "The Government does not have the numbers in Parliament to put in place a sensible, acceptable compromise that would satisfy all the parties at this time," Ms King said. "The Australian Government has been informed of the situation and agrees that suspending negotiations on the joint authority is a sensible course of action." Health Minister Pete Hodgson said the Government was now considering its options, but it was clear the status quo of an unregulated market for medical devices and complementary medicines could not remain. The bill has had a long and torturous history with the alternative medicines industry and the Greens furiously opposing the bill. Labour had initially hoped National would treat the issue as a bi-partisan trans-Tasman relations issue, but failed to persuade them. The bill only ever had tentative support from New Zealand First and United Future and it looked dead in the water from the time United Future MP Gordon Copeland quit the party and gave his proxy vote to National. The Government had been hoping that other parties might buy into a compromise put forward by New Zealand First. This would have resulted in alternative medicines being sold solely in New Zealand treated under a different regime to those being sent to Australia. The Government even tried to persuade ACT to support the bill, but today's admission shows that ministers had run out options. Green MP Sue Kedgley said today's announcement was a victory for consumers and democracy. Ms King had badly handled the matter and should have listened to concerns four years ago, but "crashed on regardless" and wasted millions of dollars. Ms Kedgley estimated that $7 million dollars had been wasted in trying to set up the agency. "It is crucial that Parliament now moves to come up with a cost-effective New Zealand regulatory system in place of the heavy-handed Australian based system." New Zealand First Leader Winston Peters said other political parties had missed an opportunity to reach a compromise on the issue. "We do see some irony in those who fanatically call for food standards to be tightly regulated, at the same time promoting an unregulated complimentary medicines regime," Mr Peters said. National's health spokesman Tony Ryall said Labour was increasingly becoming a lame duck government and it had failed to listen any of the concerns about the bill. "The Labour Government is losing control, and is in its dying days," Mr Ryall said, Ms King said it was not always possible in an MMP Parliament for a government to pass all of its legislation.