Are National about to betray Kiwi businesses?

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Think about this.

National is about to pass a Bill regulating natural products that has been sitting around since 2006 with no apparent will to move it forward…until now. It is a Bill that will likely offer absolutely no safety advantage for kiwis, cost New Zealanders jobs and cost the government tax revenue.

In short, it’s a bill that does nothing but harm New Zealand and New Zealanders. So if this is true, why is it about to be passed?

National gave the industry an assurance that any new regulations would be ‘incredibly light handed’ and yet they have come up with a regime that looks to be a stepping stone to the most repressive system in the world, the TGA in Australia. National also opposed this bill in opposition, and inherited from the last government, so why are they now pushing ahead with it?

How is this? We are being told by the Ministry of Health officials that all customer feedback (testimonials) will be banned and claims will be severely limited. Unfortunately, in order to compete online you have to have the same tools as everyone else. A glance at Amazon.com will reveal that their supplements are sold almost solely on the basis of hundreds of testimonials, many making various claims of how they have been helped.

Now I know there are many bogus claims online, weight loss etc, but people are smart enough to see these for what they are, we don’t need unelected bureaucrats you have never met, with undeclared agendas to make these decisions for you. The truth is the horse has bolted. There is no point passing 1980s style legislation that considers New Zealand is still an island that can be walled off from the evils of the rest of the world, because in the age of the internet, islands no longer exist and distance to market means very little.  

One Internet giant sells multiple cubic meters of supplements to NZ every day, and they pay zero tax here. Every sale they make costs a Kiwi business a sale, but that’s OK, that is the competitive market and I’m not complaining about that. Competition is good, but we need to have a level playing field, not one skewed in favour of offshore interests.

Unfortunately, if this law passes, that will not be possible. Kiwi product provider’s hands will be tied, as any website that sells to the world, if it is owned by a Kiwi business will be captured by this il conceived law.

The winners? The Amazon.com’s of the world, ready to inherit the Earth. They have no requirement to adhere to any similarly restrictive regulations, set up in tax havens, sell heaps to NZ but pay virtually no tax and rather than create jobs here…they cost our businesses jobs by taking sales.

My understanding is that all the industry asks is for sensible regulations that recognise these problems and put Kiwi companies first, giving them a chance to compete by letting them use the same tools as their competitors. Without that that have no show. But then again perhaps that is the design of whomever drafted this law.

Think about this, every time the government passes a law or a new rule, it takes a little bit of our power to make decisions about our lives, and transfers it to an unelected bureaucrat we have never met. These assaults on our freedom are usually based on someone else’s agenda that has nothing to do with what’s best for the people. In this case it’s a global push backed by multi-national drug companies who want a monopoly on all medical information.

Of course, this is always sold to the people on the basis of safety. Safety is always the reason behind these attacks on our freedom.  Well, in this case this legislation will make New Zealanders unsafe. If they can’t buy something here, they will buy offshore from a website where there is no guarantee of safety or quality. All the recent cases in the media about supplement safety have been imported supplements. New Zealand has very good and strict manufacturing standards.

In short there is nothing to be gained by a bill that forces or encourages Kiwis to buy online. That denies Kiwi companies the right to compete, and costs NZ tax and jobs. In the internet age where borders are unenforceable, the answer is simple, educate don’t regulate. The horse has bolted. The industry wouldn’t expect any favours vs companies anywhere else in the world, they just want a level playing field.

Unfortunately it appears that the government is hell bent on pushing this through, and Minister Coleman may well have been captured by his officials and high powered lobbyists.

National opposed this bill when Labour was pushing it through and Annette King parked it on the order paper in 2007, it seems silly for a bill to sit around for 10 years. Jonathan Coleman should do the right thing and drop the bill, no one wants it other than the Medsafe bureaucrats and some wallies inside the Ministry of Health.


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As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story.  And when he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats.

They say that news is something that someone, somewhere, wants kept quiet.   Cam Slater doesn’t do quiet, and as a result he is a polarising, controversial but highly effective journalist that takes no prisoners.

He is fearless in his pursuit of a story.

Love him or loathe him.  But you can’t ignore him.

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