Once again the government is not doing things by the book

Whaleoil guest post  The Ridiculous Politics of Meth gave an alternate perspective of Minister Twyford’s crusade against evil meth testers.

This guest post looks at the situation in more detail.

The Methamphetamine Testing Industry Association Of New Zealand is currently petitioning the House of representatives to conduct an independent review into the development and conclusions to the Prime Ministers Chief Science Advisors Meth report. The reasoning behind this is because The PMCSA’s Meth report findings have been immediately adopted to shape policy by State entities such as Housing New Zealand and the Real Estate Authority. It also appears that the Tenancy Tribunal are trying their hardest to incorporate the wording within the Meth report into their rulings as well.

The Meth report has not been subject to the same scrutiny involved in the development of a published New Zealand Standard, which is required to comply with the Standards and Accreditation Act 2015.

Upon the release of the Meth report, Phil Twyford demanded that the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment engage an independent review into the NZS 8510:2017 development process. The conclusion of this review found the NSZ8510:2017 development process was compliant with the Standards and Accreditation Act 2015.

The Minister for Housing and Urban Development is now choosing to follow the opinion of scientists in one state institution (the PMCSA Office) who are not toxicologists, (yet produced a report which aligns with his thinking,) while ignoring the reports produced by scientists in another state institution (ESR) the Institute of Environmental Science and Research who are toxicologists.

In written question 22158 (2018)  Simon O’Connor asks the Minister of Research, Science and Innovation (Dr Megan Woods) Does the ESR stand by their report, Review of Remediation Standards for Clandestine Methamphetamine Laboratories (07 October 2016) recommending that an acceptable level be 1.5ug/100cm2 for methamphetamine use, or do they agree with a level of 15ug/100cm2 as adopted by the Prime Minister’s Chief Science Advisor report? Dr Megan Woods replied: “I am advised that ESR stands by its report”.

In addition, it appears the Minister of Health Dr David Clark was ignored by the office of the PMCSA. In Written Question 13013 (2018) Dr Shane Reti asks Dr David Clark, what communications and when has the Minister had relating to the methamphetamine (meth) testing, meth policy development and the Gluckman report including communications with the Chief Science Advisor and Standards New Zealand?

Hon Dr David Clark replied: “I have not had any communications with Sir Peter Gluckman or Standards New Zealand relating to methamphetamine (meth) testing, meth policy development and Sir Peter’s report on Methamphetamine contamination in residential properties: Exposures, risk levels, and interpretation of standards”.

With the Ministry of Health’s primary function of improving, promoting, and protecting public health under the Health Act 1956, the long overdue answer to written question 22159 (2018)  will be interesting.

Simon O’Connor asked the Minister of Health on the 13 Sep 2018: Does the Minister of Health stand by the ESR report commissioned by the ministry entitled Review of Remediation Standards for Clandestine Methamphetamine Laboratories 07 October 2016 and support the conclusions of this document? The 10 day answer period has now been exceeded.

The PMCSA meth report considered that a lack of clinical cases demonstrating illness arising from methamphetamine contaminants at the current standard equated to ‘evidence of absence’. This statement is ridiculous as the effects we are talking about are subtle neurological disturbances and developmental milestones, which the vast majority of parents and clinicians would be completely unaware of as they relate to thirdhand exposures to meth from housing surfaces.

We are likely not talking about seizures or something so clinically obvious that would result in kids ending up in emergency rooms. So to say there are no case reports of illness at the current standard, while true, is still a false argument. Furthermore isn’t it a good thing that there are no case reports of illness at the current standard?  It seems funny to me that it would be considered to indicate a flawed standard in contrast to it adequately providing the protection it is designed for.

Before Housing New Zealand, the Real Estate Authority and the Tenancy Tribunal start changing policy and legal precedent, surely the relevant government departments must be engaged with to ensure all obligations are met with relevant Acts, and that discussion documents “intention of the report” that are cited are subject to the same scrutiny as Published New Zealand Standards?

This appears to be a significant miscarriage of justice which ignores the usual process for incorporating documents into legislation whilst potentially endangering our most vulnerable.

The Methamphetamine Testing Industry Association Of New Zealand have overwhelming evidence that the PMCSA report is full of research bias to support a preconceived conclusion, ignoring the independence that this office’s credibility is built on. The Petition for an independent review of the PMCSA meth report is not about what level is right or wrong, it’s about ensuring that due process is followed.

Please click this link and sign to support the petition. 

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