Kia ora koutou
When I took on this role in July, my predecessor had recently put out the now famous “Meth report” – perhaps the best example of the value of this role that the public had seen. Sir Peter, supported by his very experienced researcher Anne Bardsley, had looked at the evidence base for the threshold set for methamphetamine testing in houses, and found it wanting. It was far lower than the evidence supported. Much has been written on the subsequent furore, but less on the ongoing work, so here is an update.
As Anne has pointed out when giving presentations on the story of the meth report, Sir Peter wasn’t asked to set a standard as such, just to look at the evidence base for the existing one. So the ‘slam-dunk’ conclusion led to two work streams – one complete and one ongoing.
Firstly, in September, Hon Kris Faafoi, Minister of Commerce and Consumer Affairs, asked my Office to assist the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment in providing reassurance that independent science evidence was being used in the Standards setting process.
We have now completed this piece of work and set up a process where the Standards New Zealand Board have direct connection to the MBIE Chief Science Advisor. There are now established points in the Standards setting process where independent scrutinisation of new or unsettled science occurs. You can read about this on our web page here: Science and the Development of NZ Standards. We are pleased to see these developments, which will make the process more robust, and science advice more accessible, in the future. Thanks to George Slim for leading this work from our Office and the Standards Board for their cheerful, positive and future-focused engagement with us.
Secondly, to tie up the work on the meth standard itself (NZS 8510:2107), government agencies are currently finalising an evidence base and specific thresholds for different practical situations, building on Gluckman and Bardsley’s recommendations. You can link through to the current status of this work through our web page above.