The drawing up of free-trade agreements is always an exercise in compromise. Sometimes, unpalatable concessions have to be made with an eye on the bigger picture. …
At the forefront of American concerns will be two issues – the strength of our dairying industry and the role played by Pharmac, the Government’s drug-buying agency.
The US farming lobby will want little conceded, while American pharmaceutical companies want Pharmac’s role drastically reduced.
The drug companies say an end to New Zealand’s anti-competitive drug-funding system would give its people quicker access to new and expensive medicines.
US drug companies can introduce these new and expensive medicines at any time. Whether or not they gain a subsidy from the state is another issue.
Trade Minister Tim Groser has described Pharmac as “an outstandingly successful public institution”, which has saved taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars. The estimated savings in a five-year period are enough to have built the Starship hospital.
Mr Groser has also said that, as the principal economic adviser at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, he had negotiated with the US on Pharmac 10 years ago and had seen no need to make concessions.
That is reassuring. But the issue will doubtless be raised again, as New Zealand covets a free-trade agreement with the US. Hard choices will have to be made.
The Government has already bowed to pressure and allowed some slippage in Pharmac’s integrity. With the taxpayer uppermost in its mind, it should hesitate before venturing further down that path.
I agree Pharmac is of great value to New Zealand. The gains from a free trade deal would have to be significant for us to agree to changes to Pharmac.
The history of Anzac Day remembrance has been shaped by memory and ideals – memories and ideals that have changed over the decades since the landing on the Gallipoli Peninsula in 1915.
The commemoration therefore has reflected the great alterations that New Zealand has undergone in those 95 years.
Yesterday’s services saw the men and women of World War II and will continue to see many of them in future years. But their number is dwindling and thoughts thus turn to the Anzac Days of the future. …
Voices last week were raised, predicting a decline in turnout over the coming decades, but that is unlikely to eventuate. The respect for what our fighting men and women achieved and the honour they brought us is now deeply and uncontroversially embedded in the nation’s psyche.
The Press pages on New Zealand’s military history, which we printed in the lead-up to Anzac Day, are but one example of this. They were prized by readers, and schools have taken them in large numbers. A hunger exists for hearing again the old tales of valour and service.
The men and women who performed those deeds will not be forgotten and Anzac Day will live on in their honour.
While on TV, once again I found Maori TV did best.
The primary function of Fiji’s proposed new media regulator is “to encourage, promote and facilitate the development of media organisations and services”. It sounds reasonable.
There is just one problem. In order to perform its duties the Media Industry Development Authority is being given the power to fine and lock up journalists, editors and publishers, censor news reports, search premises, seize documents, and shut down news organisations.
Coating a dictator’s iron fist with a veneer of legality does not soften the blow.
The commodore is labouring under a misapprehension. The misapprehension is that he is the big man in the Pacific.
He is not. He is a tinpot dictator who has gained power at the point of a gun and is destroying his country’s economy and prospects and the institutions, already weakened by three previous coups, that underpin good government.
The news media is one of them. Journalists, editors and publishers will bear the immediate brunt of the latest restrictions, but the real losers are the Fijian people, who have already lost the right to learn what is happening because of “emergency” regulations put in place last year.
Free speech is a fundamental pillar of democracy. “Were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers, or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter,” said Thomas Jefferson, the author of the American Declaration of Independence.
Another great Jefferson quote.