Dr Russel Norman: Will the Minister publicly guarantee that he will not sign any trade deal with the United States that undermines Pharmac’s role as a monopoly purchaser of pharmaceuticals on behalf of all New Zealanders—yes or no?
Hon ANNETTE KING: As with all our free-trade agreements, in order for New Zealand to be able to agree to any outcome the agreement overall must be able to pass the test of being in our national interest. Those issues will be discussed and we will look at our national interest.
There’s not much ‘yes’ or ‘no’ happening in that answer. So he tries again:
Dr Russel Norman: Given the Minister’s previous answer, where she refused to publicly guarantee to protect Pharmac, will the Minister publicly guarantee not to loosen the current rules around genetic engineering as part of a trade deal with the United States—yes or no?
Hon ANNETTE KING: I repeat: as with all our free-trade agreements, in order for New Zealand to be able to agree to any outcome, the agreement overall must be able to pass the test of being in our national interest. Those are issues that we will look at.
I worry that Labour thinks that concern about genetic engineering will eventually just fade away then it can change the rules without much of a public process. That’s unlikely to happen through a public policy process. But doing it through a trade negotiation would be highly undemocratic so I hope MFAT does not go down that road.