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  • May 6th, 2011 @ 3:53pm

    Speaking as a kiwi

    IMO, it doesn't matter whether the following sentence backed up the one previously or tempered it. There have been numerous revelations about the US government and corporations using threats, bribery and bullying tactics to affect change in laws in New Zealand. The slate is not blank here - in 1984, our Prime Minister enacted a Nuclear Free legislation that barred nuclear warships from entering New Zealand ports. Because the US would not reveal which ships had nuclear capabilities, this meant they could not dock here. In response, the US backed out of the ANZUS treaty (though they're still in it with Australia, as are we) and started changing international trade agreements to make it harder for us to export goods there - they used this same tactic more recently, threatening to block our largest dairy company from selling goods in the US if we didn't send troops to Afghanistan. Dairy is a huge part of our economy, so this would have had an enormous impact on our citizens. Even a few years ago we were told that we could not negotiate free trade agreements with the US (which are almost never beneficial for the non-US partner anyway, but that's a different issue) unless we revoked the nuclear free legislation.

    One of the areas they're currently interfering in is the drug industry. Medication is actually up to 40% cheaper here than in the US because Pharmac, the agency that imports about 70% of it, negotiates with the suppliers for a decent price. However now the government is being told that if we don't enact legislation regarding drug sales favourable to US drug companies, the price of that medication will go up. Way up. It will become unaffordable to an awful lot of people - potentially killing. The US has even issued a report blaming Pharmac for our relatively low OECD rating for preventable deaths (related to health care), despite the fact that the US is even lower on the list (22nd out of 27) and in regards to *improvements* in preventable deaths we're 13th and they're 26th (from 1996 to 2006).

    What this is is simply another example of the US trying to meddle with another country's laws. It doesn't matter exactly what they want curtailed. Our laws are ours, not theirs. They are made with the welfare of New Zealand people in mind, and the situations in the two different countries are very different. Unfortunately, we currently have a right wing government that seems to be quite happy to pander to at least some of the US government's demands, but our government being spineless or corrupt or whatever it happens to be does not excuse the behaviour of the US here. The US government describes us as "a friend, not an ally" but it seems what they really want us to be is a watered down puppet-country who'll do whatever they want.