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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2004 Week 7 Hansard (1 July) . . Page.. 3216..

MS DUNDAS (continuing):

crops, I see no reason why the ACT should not be following. I commend this amendment to the Assembly.

MR WOOD (Minister for Disability, Housing and Community Services, Minister for Urban Services, Minister for Police and Emergency Services, Minister for Arts and Heritage, and Acting Minister for Health) (9.05): The government will not agree to the amendment. It introduces a clause, a power for the minister, to declare an area GM food crop free. We have chosen here a regulatory scheme that exempts certain GM food crops on a case-by-case basis for marketing purposes. As Ms Dundas indicated, the alternative regulatory model is based on declaring areas GM food crop free, as operates in Western Australia and South Australia. However, the government system is a different one, so we are opposed to introducing this amendment, as I believe it would result in a hybrid regulatory system.

MR SMYTH (Leader of the Opposition) (9.06): The opposition will also oppose the amendment because it changes the subject of the moratorium from a species of plant to an area. As was already pointed out in the case of WA, they then declared the whole of WA GM free. The purpose of the government's bill is to authorise the minister to protect the marketing of an existing crop, which might be a GM-free crop, from the arrival of modified crops into the area species by species. The method proposed by the Democrats is a very blunt instrument. It is a blunt instrument that was used, I think, poorly in WA. There is no need for it here.

MS TUCKER (9.07): The Greens are happy to support this amendment. It takes an area based rather than crop based approach to prohibiting GM food plants. This would enable the minister to declare the ACT GM crop free if he so desired. Of course, the government scheme still allows for the cultivation of any crop or food plant to be exempted from the moratorium. The advantage of this opt-in approach is that the government and its advisory committee need to consider each plant case by case. It automatically allows for closer scrutiny, with better notification procedures and a clearer sense of responsibility. It is a more responsible approach.

Amendment negatived.

Clause agreed to.

Clause 8.

MS TUCKER (9.08): I move amendment No 1 circulated in my name on the blue sheet [see schedule 10 at page 3250].

This amendment introduces a small amount of transparency and accountability to the scheme. Any proposed exemptions from moratoriums need to be publicised, and neighbours of such activity should be forewarned. The government appears satisfied that no such public notification is necessary. The experience of non-GM farmers in many locations around Australia stands in stark contradiction to that view.

MS DUNDAS (9.09): Mr Speaker, the Democrats are happy to support this amendment as it is aimed at greater transparency in how exemptions are granted to those who wish to cultivate GM food crops. This amendment would ensure that there is community debate

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