Condoms on Labour's new to-do list

By Patrick Gower

Photo / Paul Estcourt
Photo / Paul Estcourt

Taxpayer-funded condoms at supermarkets, dairies and service stations are on today's Labour Party agenda.

But its rainbow sector group says it should only be for "basic" condoms - meaning the subsidy would not extend to the flavoured and ribbed varieties.

The party's rank-and-file will today vote on the proposal, which its promoters say would help cut down on unplanned pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases.

Condoms are presently subsidised only on prescription, but the suggestion that this be shifted to retail was put forward by both the health and rainbow sectors at the party's national conference in Rotorua yesterday.

Labour's health spokeswoman Ruth Dyson said the party wanted to look at innovative ways of stopping unwanted pregnancies.

She said it was obvious the type of person who had an unplanned pregnancy did not plan to go to the doctor for contraception either, "but they might whip into the supermarket on the way out".

Dyson said it was still a "long way off", and had not been costed yet.

It could actually reduce costs to the taxpayer, she said, as making the condoms available in shops would circumvent the need to go to a GP, which incurs a taxpayer subsidy.

The condoms could also help cut New Zealand's high rate of sexually transmitted diseases, she added.

About nine million condoms are prescribed in New Zealand each year, costing the taxpayer less than $1 million.

Labour leader Phil Goff will address the conference today and will admit Labour made mistakes and got its priorities wrong, especially with its so-called "nanny-state" policies.

South Australian Labor Premier Mike Rann, a friend of Goff's from university, told the party that Goff was the man to lead them into the next election.

- NZ Herald

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