Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Is the health minister in the dark on the TPP?

The Trans Pacific Partnership is a major international trade deal currently under engotiation by the government. It is expected to significantly increase the prices of pharmaceuticals in New Zealand while limiting Pharmac's ability to negotiate with drug companies - changes which will result in people dying. In other words, it will have a significant impact on the health portfolio. So you'd expect the Minister of Health, Jonathan Coleman, to be talking to the Minister for Trade about it to find out what those impacts will be, right?

Wrong. According to a request lodged through FYI, the public OIA request system, Coleman has not had any correspondence with the Minister of Trade about the TPP in the last year.

There are really two possibilities here. The first is that Coleman is utterly derelict in his duty (or rather, Groser is derelict in his, as he has a constitutional duty to consult his Cabinet colleagues on significant decisions affecting their portfolios). The second is that Coleman is being a dick with the OIA, and interpreting "correspondence" narrowly. But neither is really acceptable, and both are signs of a dysfunctional government.