Eyes around the world have been focused on Washington this week, as President Obama wrestled with US law-makers to get authority to sign the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA).
So far, Congress has withheld the full “fast track” authority needed by the President. Without it, the controversial 12-nation trade and investment treaty could be sunk.
There’s a lot at stake for nurses in the battle over the TPPA.
Will we start to have more say in the health system? Or will we be further marginalised and ignored, as health decision-makers bow to threats of legal action in shadowy offshore tribunals, made by big corporations?
We know that the TPPA would mean the dismantling of PHARMAC, leading to higher medicine costs. And it would mean legal challenges to public health measures such as those targeting smoking and obesity.
And we know that Prime Minister John Key’s comment this week that medicine costs won’t go up under the TPPA is not credible.
But our governing body, the NZNO Board of Directors, is not unanimous. Last year, it considered (and thankfully discounted) a proposal that NZNO should drop its opposition to the TPPA.
As one of the early campaigners warning of the dangers of the TPPA to New Zealand, helping to organise a speaking tour on the agreement back in 2011, I worked to get NZNO on board. And I’ve been a keen participant in NZNO activities against the TPPA ever since.
It is my belief that NZNO needs leaders who aren’t afraid to speak up if the Prime Minister makes inaccurate comments about health. And we need leaders who will strengthen our stand for nurse power against the TPPA.