Government morals to be tested with trade agreements

By Maiki Sherman

It seems a test in priorities lies ahead for the Government, in essence, whether or not the health and wellbeing of the nation reigns supreme over its own trade agreements.

Following the first reading of the Tobacco Plain Packaging Ammendment Bill last night, revelations have emerged which allege tobacco giants will have more legal grounds to sue over the legislation, under the trade agreement known as the Trans Pacific Partnership.

According to our political reporter Maiki Sherman, everyday 13 people die in New Zealand because of their tobacco addiction, a battle which the NZ goverment has taken on. But giant tobacco companies aren't giving up without a fight.

According to Tariana Turia, “we know that there's a lot of speculation about how far this piece of legislation will go with the prospect of being sued by overseas companies and I think that there's a point in your life where you have to stand up for what you believe in.”

Furthermore, Australia has felt the force of the tobacco industry. They were sued for similar legislation and Professor Jane Kelsey, law expert at Auckland University, says tobacco giants will only gain more legal power under the TPP Agreement.

Moreover, it's understood a form of amendment has been tabled by Malaysia to protect against such tools. But the question remains firm - is New Zealand prepared to support it?

Apart from one MP, the bill was widely supported last night and Tariana Turia believes it will be the same at the third reading.

“The loveliest thing for me was as I came out of parliament a beautiful Maori woman with a moko came running down the stairs she looked ultra fit and she ran up to me put her arms around me and said "thank you, I smoked for 37 years" adds Turia.

It's expected the bill will reach its final hurdle in August where we'll see whether or not it will pass.