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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 14 Hansard (12 December) . . Page.. 4395 ..

MR SMYTH (continuing):

potential for a short-term gain from using GM crops. However, that is lost in the long term if, for instance, you use Roundup-ready canola, because you have to use much more heavy duty and serious chemicals to eradicate the canola volunteers later on.

It is an important report. We did consider it over quite a period of time. It is important legislation and I think the fact that it was referred to the committee in the first place is an indication of the Assembly's interest in the matter and its understanding of how important it is to get it right.

We did not speak to a great number of people in the committee hearings, simply because a large amount of information was available already. If you take the time to read the information and reports that have come from other senate committees, and the submissions that have been made to those committees, you will find that there is a great deal of information available already.

Some people seem to think, "Okay, go for your life,"but others have been urging caution. What we got from the evidence that we were given, and from what we have been able to read, is a sense that there is no clear position on this. That tells me that we should be cautious. The committee has made some recommendations, in particular about the use of the precautionary principle and the fact that it should now be written into the legislation to strengthen it. I think it is a very positive step.

I think that the difference between the broad use of GM crops and the research that is being done in the ACT is quite clear. This is not a report that is anti-research. Research in controlled circumstances is absolutely vital to the future of humankind, as well as to the economic future of the ACT if it becomes a centre of excellence for this sort of research. Indeed, that might be the great bonus: if there are no genetically modified crops out there in widespread use, the ACT may become the perfect place for testing in institutions such as the CSIRO.

I think it is a good report. I do not believe that we have rushed it. I do not believe that we were inactive. I do not believe that there was any reason to delay it. I certainly do not believe there is any need to qualify a response to the report, and it has my full support.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Public Accounts-Standing Committee

Report No 2

MR SMYTH (Leader of the Opposition) (12.25): I present the following report:

Public Accounts-Standing Committee-Report No 2-Auditor-General's Report No 8, 2001-Relocation to Brindabella Business Park, dated 6 December 2002, together with a copy of the extracts of the minutes of proceedings.

I ask for leave to move a motion authorising the report for publication.

Leave granted.

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