More on National on Complementary Medicines Bill

August 1st, 2007 at 4:32 pm by David Farrar

I covered earlier the NZ Herald report that would support the Peters amended Complementary Medicines Bill, and that then said the story misrepresented their position.

NZ Herald Political Editor Audrey Young blogs that she is very angry at the statement that the story misrepresents what was said.

Having read the story, Audrey’s blog and an extract of the full interview, I have to say that I don’t think the fault lies with the NZ Herald staff. If I was in their shoes I suspect I would have interpreted it the same way. Especially:

Key: It’s pretty straightforward isn’t it? It’s all very well people having a whack at us, but if they want to bring us a proposal in line with what Peters said on television, we’ll sign it. I keep asking for it. No one has shown it to me.”

Now the problem seems to be that Key was interpreting the Peters amendment as carving out complementaries. He refers to this later on by saying:

If someone wants to show us a proposal and it does what it says and carves out complementaries with a voluntary opt-in, we’ll sign it.

But in fact the Peters proposal, according to media reports, was carving out those who sell just in NZ with those who do not.  Of course as the proposal has not to date been published no-one knows for sure.

So I can see where the confusion happened.  I think there are two key lessons for John Key in this:

  1. The overwhelming need to be clear and unambiguous. Incidents like this can and do damage.
  2. Never debate the merits of a proposal one hasn’t seen!

In my books Key has made a mistake with his lack of clarity on this.  It’s not the world’s biggest mistake.  It is in fact a good mistake to learn from!

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