Plain packaging court case paves way for NZ

  • 22/12/2015
Plain packaging court case paves way for NZ

The Maori Party has joined the call for Parliament to pass plain packaging legislation now that the Australian government has won its case against tobacco giant Philip Morris.

Australia introduced plain packaging in 2011, and was challenged by Philip Morris under international investment protection rules.

The Permanent Court of Arbitration, based in the Hague, on Friday agreed with the Australian government's argument that it had no jurisdiction to hear the case, and rejected it.

Former Maori Party co-leader Dame Tariana Turia brought a plain packaging Bill to Parliament two years ago.

It passed its first reading and was put on hold because the Government was wary of a costly legal challenge and wanted to wait for the Australian case to be resolved.

Maori Party co-leader Marama Fox says Parliament has been sitting on its hands, and she hopes that Bill will be passed next year now Philip Morris has lost the case.

The party's other co-leader, Te Ururoa Flavell, says the Government supports the Smokefree Aotearoa by 2025 campaign Dame Tariana launched.

"If we're going to reach this target we need to show some courage," he said.

Action on Smoking and Health NZ director Stephanie Erick says the outcome of the protracted legal battle should give New Zealand greater confidence about introducing plain packaging laws.

The New Zealand Nurses Organisation says there's no further reason for delay.

"I'm calling on the Government to announce plain packaging laws here immediately," spokeswoman Kerri Nuku said at the weekend.

Australia was the first country in the world to introduced plain packaging.

Philip Morris argued that the law constituted an expropriation of its Australia investments and was an unreasonable and discriminatory measure.

The company has not said whether it intends appealing the court's decision.

Cabinet is likely to consider the issue when Parliament resumes in February.