OnPoint by Keith Ng

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OnPoint: Sock-Puppeting Big Tobacco to Chew on ACT

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  • andin,

    Somewhere in some BATcave someone is fuming, fulminating shall we say.
    "Damn and blast we must stop this Ng!"
    And worrying about have they can fluff out their numbers. God has blessed them on their journey to wealth (they lie to themselves) But why didnt he make more rich people with property, than that other kind. But one must'n curse God, sorry Money and God. Their hands are tied.
    Quick lie them on the road......roadkill.

    raglan • Since Mar 2007 • 1155 posts Report Reply

  • Graeme Edgeler,

    I'm not really seeing anything to justify the headline.

    ACT supports a law to entrench wealth with those who have it. Big Tobacco could/would benefit from such a law. More happen-stance, than sock-puppetry.

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 2988 posts Report Reply

  • Joshua Arbury,

    There's a kind of glorious irony to situations like this because whatever BAT ask for, it seems like they're increasing the chance of it not happening, simply because BAT asked for it.

    Maybe a good policymaking process for reducing smoking would be to dig through every submission BAT has ever made then do the opposite. Though at some point they'd click and perhaps submit the opposite to what they really want?

    It's kind of like coming up with a good idea but then having ACT endorse it. You'd be going "no no no it's OK guys, you don't want to support this."

    Auckland • Since May 2009 • 216 posts Report Reply

  • Carrick Graham,

    What a scandle - actually having the nerve to ask for evidence based policy decisions! Instead, lets get 'evidence' manufactured by NGO and 'researchers' contracted to the MOH to 'research' what we want and then use that as justification for policy decisions because we don't like tobacco companies.

    But wait, lets not stop there. Lets use our contracted providers to swan off to Geneva and support a WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco, specifically Article 5.3 and stop those nasty tobacco company representatives from even being allowed to talk to policy makers.

    So Keith you may have the "shit scared out of you" by a submission and your view of corporates, but the flip side is that democracy is poorer for excluding people/companies from shaping policy in New Zealand. That is what you should really be scared about.

    New Zealand • Since Sep 2011 • 2 posts Report Reply

  • Lucy Stewart, in reply to Carrick Graham,

    So Keith you may have the "shit scared out of you" by a submission and your view of corporates, but the flip side is that democracy is poorer for excluding people/companies from shaping policy in New Zealand. That is what you should really be scared about.

    Corporations want one thing: profits. Tobacco corporations make their profits from one thing: selling a product that kills people and puts a huge burden on our health system. A healthy degree of scepticism regarding anything tobacco companies suggest be enshrined into law is not only warranted, it's required.

    Furthermore, I know that America's bought into that whole "corporations are people" line, but I'm kind of hoping we can bring a little more realism to bear. Corporations have demonstrated that they are perfectly happy to take all the rights of individuals, but none of the responsibilities. They are not citizens of any country; they have no loyalty to the betterment of any country. Individuals within corporations are perfectly entitled to participate in politics, just as anyone is, but corporations as entities? Yeah, that's problematic.

    Amherst, MA • Since Nov 2006 • 2089 posts Report Reply

  • George Darroch,

    Do we really think that a tobacco company’s right to profit off their brand should trump a democratic mandate saying otherwise? Because that’s exactly what enshrining property rights in the pseudoconstitution means.

    To make things more clear:

    Do we really think that a tobacco company's right to kill ten percent of the population and twenty five percent of Maori should trump a democratic mandate saying otherwise?

    Tobacco related illness still kills around half of all tobacco users, and tobacco users still constitute around 20% of the population and about half of Maori.

    The harm to property of course comes with decreased consumption among the population, congruent with the Government's eventual goal of reducing smoking to a near-zero figure.

    This goes way beyond almost any document in existence. Even the most restrictive, corporate written US-led international trade agreements, such as the TPPA, have provisions that allow exceptions for public health. You might win, you might lose in this very example, but even that's a step ahead of what is being proposed here.

    ACT are the kind of people who would literally kill ten percent of the population to make an ideological point.

    The People's Republic of … • Since Nov 2006 • 2118 posts Report Reply

  • George Darroch,

    But wait, lets not stop there. Lets use our contracted providers to swan off to Geneva and support a WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco, specifically Article 5.3 and stop those nasty tobacco company representatives from even being allowed to talk to policy makers

    I want to thank Carrick Graham for raising this point. In recent international trade negotiations, the tobacco industry has sought to be involved in 'consultation'. Rather than being given the same rights to submit as any other citizen or interest, they have inserted themselves into the middle of things. They frequently use this technique in national level legislation, sidelining the public interest with promises, threats, and spurious arguments. Article 5.3 of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control addresses exactly this point, and it is one that the tobacco industry is very upset about.

    His words remind us of just how his industry operates.

    The People's Republic of … • Since Nov 2006 • 2118 posts Report Reply

  • George Darroch,

    swan off to Geneva

    Considering that Geneva is where the WHO is headquartered, I’m not sure where else one would go, unless you were heading to a Working Group conference rotated through other cities.

    I have always wanted to ‘swan off to’ somewhere though – I assume it the art of flying gracefully? Or does it relate to paddling gently through a pond?

    ETA:

    Why 5.3 is important.

    The People's Republic of … • Since Nov 2006 • 2118 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart, in reply to andin,

    Somewhere in some BATcave someone

    Heh, dude, it's Carrick Gra...

    Never mind.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4327 posts Report Reply

  • Stephen Judd,

    those nasty tobacco company representatives

    It amuses me that this was probably meant sarcastically, and yet a great majority of people would understand "nasty tobacco company representatives" as a tautology.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 2917 posts Report Reply

  • James Butler, in reply to Carrick Graham,

    democracy is poorer for excluding people/companies from shaping policy in New Zealand.

    Democracy:

    The term comes from the Greek: δημοκρατία – (dēmokratía) "rule of the people"

    Remind me again in what way BAT is a member of the people of New Zealand?

    Auckland • Since Jan 2009 • 799 posts Report Reply

  • Joe Wylie, in reply to Carrick Graham,

    . . . democracy is poorer for excluding people/companies from shaping policy in New Zealand.

    Not to mention people/animal hybrids. Our "democracy", like H. Feet's quasi-human status, is revealed as a hollow sham when he/it is shipped into exile , callously tossed overboard, and robbed of the opportunity to establish his/it's right to a fishing quota as defined by section 57D of the Fisheries Act 1996 .

    flat earth • Since Jan 2007 • 3325 posts Report Reply

  • DeepRed, in reply to Graeme Edgeler,

    ACT supports a law to entrench wealth with those who have it. Big Tobacco could/would benefit from such a law. More happen-stance, than sock-puppetry.

    And if they can't legislate for it, they'll razor-wire it and wall it off.

    And didn't Richard Prebble call for the criminalisation of trade union donations?

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 4057 posts Report Reply

  • Keith Ng, in reply to Carrick Graham,

    So Keith you may have the "shit scared out of you" by a submission and your view of corporates, but the flip side is that democracy is poorer for excluding people/companies from shaping policy in New Zealand. That is what you should really be scared about.

    The industry isn't excluded. It has as much right to be included as any group, bar the government itself. Should the MoH have more say on health policy than Big Tobacco? Well yes, Carrick, yes it should.

    All sarcasm aside, we can agree that the industry's agenda is pretty straightforward, right? They're not submitting to improve the quality of legislation for the public good. They want to make more money. That's not necessarily evil, but let's not try to pretend they give a shit about the quality of democracy except where it lets them sell more cigarettes. Are you actually trying to dispute this?

    The thing that came through in that submission is that BATNZ saw every evidentiary threshold as an opportunity; not an opportunity to present evidence and challenge facts, but an opportunity to send in the lawyers and frustrate the legislative process. The higher and more legalistic the threshold, the more the industry can stall it.

    That's what scares me.

    Also, the black market line really is kind of genius. I can see why they use it everywhere. It's talks about crime, taxes, blah blah blah. I nearly forgot about the "hey, did you know cigarettes kill people" part.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 530 posts Report Reply

  • izogi, in reply to Joshua Arbury,

    There's a kind of glorious irony to situations like this because whatever BAT ask for, it seems like they're increasing the chance of it not happening, simply because BAT asked for it.

    Don't tobacco companies often run shell companies and organisations to make submissions on their behalf for exactly this reason? At least that's what I've been led to believe.

    Wellington • Since Jan 2007 • 290 posts Report Reply

  • Keith Ng, in reply to izogi,

    Don't tobacco companies often run shell companies and organisations to make submissions on their behalf for exactly this reason? At least that's what I've been led to believe.

    This was an odd one. It wasn't a select committee process, it was the Treasury taking submissions, basically on Rodney's behalf. It wasn't as transparent as SCs, but was subject to the OIA.

    Still, with something that was so obviously drafted up by lawyers, they couldn't really put "Murray Gibson of Murray's Tobacconist in Timaru" on it anyway.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 530 posts Report Reply

  • Keith Ng,

    ACT supports a law to entrench wealth with those who have it. Big Tobacco could/would benefit from such a law. More happen-stance, than sock-puppetry.

    Clearly, your threshold for sock-puppetry is higher than mine.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 530 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Carrick Graham,

    democracy is poorer for excluding people/companies from shaping policy in New Zealand

    You're conflating public policy with democracy. Not that it's any surpise. The dolts of the right seem to have a hard time distinguishing citizenship from chequebooks.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16263 posts Report Reply

  • Stephen Judd,

    I'd be genuinely interested to know the tobacco company position on marijuana legalisation. Everything they point to as a consequence of tightening up supply is effectively a pro-legalisation argument for other drugs.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 2917 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to James Butler,

    Remind me again in what way BAT is a member of the people of New Zealand?

    Corporations are people too, eh. There's a movie about it.

    snap, Lucy

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16263 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Sacha,

    the tobacco company position on marijuana legalisation

    They've laid in brand trademarks some time ago. Let the astroturfing begin..

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16263 posts Report Reply

  • James Butler, in reply to Sacha,

    Corporations are people too, eh.

    Yeah, but with a name like that can BAT claim to be a person of New Zealand?

    Auckland • Since Jan 2009 • 799 posts Report Reply

  • dc_red,

    An hilarious contribution from big tobacco there: arguably the foremost opponent of evidence-based policy ... ever since, well, the evidence against smoking began mounting after the release of the 1962 Royal College of Physicians report.

    And extra marks for throwing in 'scare quotes' around health 'researchers' ... probably better saved for those employed and contracted by your own industry to obfuscate and contest.

    Oil Patch, Alberta • Since Nov 2006 • 706 posts Report Reply

  • Lucy Stewart, in reply to dc_red,

    And extra marks for throwing in ‘scare quotes’ around health ‘researchers’ … probably better saved for those employed and contracted by your own industry to obfuscate and contest.

    I do wish they'd told me what results to produce when I was doing government-funded health research. It would have saved so much time I spent on actual scientific experiments. Those people doing the glamour research on tobacco and cancer have all the luck.

    Amherst, MA • Since Nov 2006 • 2089 posts Report Reply

  • HORansome, in reply to Keith Ng,

    I think Graeme's point is that whilst you've shown why enshrining property rights is good for Big Tobacco you haven't shown that ACT's motivation to enshrine property rights in the BORA is motivated by Big Tobacco (i.e. isn't this a confluence of interests rather than sock puppetry?).

    Tāmaki Makaurau • Since Sep 2008 • 400 posts Report Reply

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