National MP Todd Muller's proposal to regulate sunscreen passed its first hurdle in Parliament last night, with support from across the House.
"We are a country that is hugely exposed to skin cancer in terms of incidence across our population," Muller, who had a pre-cancerous mole removed during his time as National Party leader, told Parliament.
"New Zealanders expect that when they put sunscreen on and they are fulfilling their part of the bargain of protecting themselves they have confidence that the sun protection factor that's on the label is indeed what's in the bottle."
Muller described the bill as ensuring the sunscreen available to buy in New Zealand "has greater efficacy and that consumers have greater protection".
In 2020, Consumer NZ found only five of the 10 sunscreens tested were up to standard.
"In Australia, the standard is mandatory... But in New Zealand, compliance is voluntary," Muller said.
"The result is that many sunscreens do not meet the promise of the label. They say they are broad spectrum, they say they are SPF 50 or a similarly high number, but actually when tested they do not deliver that claim."
Green MP Elizabeth Kerekere spoke of her experience with skin cancer.
"Proud as I am of my Māori whakapapa that gave me these brown eyes and this hair, it is my mother's strong Irish blood that gave me this fair skin. For decades now I have used quality skin care and sunscreen to make sure that I go a lovely brown colour and not bright pink.
"It was quite a surprise to me in 2005 to find the tiny lump beside my eye suddenly started growing at an alarming rate. My partner made me go to a doctor and I was diagnosed with skin cancer."
Kerekere was told the waiting list was at least six months and she may be bumped down the list because she was low priority.
"They also told me if I waited too long I would likely go blind."
"I have sight in both of my eyes because one of my friends loaned me the $2,000 it cost back in 2005 to do a 15-minute procedure in a private hospital. All because the labelling on the products I was using in good faith were not accurate."
ACT's Damien Smith urged the Government to immediately regulate "rather than wasting Parliament's time further, and do a sun-loving act to the outdoors people of New Zealand, a great service to all the consumers that use these products".
"I have a 13-year-old daughter who was diagnosed, after a mole check, with an advanced melanoma, which is unheard of, really, at that age," Smith said.
"We had to go to the USA for a test because it was actually an adult-type tumour. We were really lucky to catch it at a very early stage, otherwise she mightn't be here today.
"But now she's confined to covering up from exposure at certain times of the day. There needs to be a complete education programme around the use of sunscreen, and also when you should go out, and how you should plan, and there should be professional advice around that."