Thursday, June 14th 2007
The government has been forced to make changes to a controversial bill that could have banned hundreds of homeopathic remedies.
The law would create a powerful transtasman agency responsible for approving medicines, dietary supplements and even condoms.
The government is making major changes with the help of New Zealand First leader Winston Peters in a last ditch bid to save face.
Protesters are angry that the agency, dominated by Australian officials, will dictate what dietary supplements are sold in New Zealand and there are fears that up to 700 ingredients currently used may be banned.
"We have to kill this bill once and for all," says endurance athlete Allison Roe.
Green Party MP Sue Kedgley says it is just an Australian system while Act Party leader Rodney Hide believes about 75% of the things he takes every day would be banned by the bill.
But the government doesn't have the numbers to pass it and a major rewrite is under way.
Details are sketchy with only a "you'll have to wait and see" comment from deputy leader Michael Cullen.
One MP reportedly in the know says a two-tiered system may be set up so people wanting to sell their pills and potions in New Zealand get approval from an NZ agency. But Independent MP Gordon Copeland says if a company wants to grow and go into Australia it would need to apply to the transtasman agency.
Peters may be the key to the compromise. He is confident a solution will be reached and is prepared to put his name to changes to the bill in a supplementary order paper.
"All you pill poppers will be happy," the NZ First leader says.
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