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Greens To Grill MAF Over Moth Fiasco

Green Biosecurity spokesperson Ian Ewen-Street today said he will seize the opportunity next month to grill the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry about their handling of the Painted Apple Moth infestation.

Mr Ewen-Street has initiated the briefing from MAF and Ministry of Health officials to the Primary Production Committee, of which he is a member. The briefing will be held on 14 March, and will be open to the public.

"I'm delighted that this briefing will give me and other members of the select committee the chance to find out what actually went wrong. We will be able to ask the questions that Auckland residents are dying to have answered.

"This briefing should identify what mistakes have been made and stop the same mistakes being made again. I will be looking for answers about how and why a relatively small biosecurity breach has been mishandled to the point where it has become a full-blown debacle."

Mr Ewen-Street said he also wanted answers from Ministry of Health officials about the health aspects of aerial spraying.

"The ingredients of the spray used, Foray 48B, have been kept a secret for commercial reasons. But surely people have a right to know what they and their children are being sprayed with?

"I also want to find out whether MAF did actually provide free medical advice to any affected residents, or whether they just told them to go and see their local GP."

Mr Ewen-Street said the ramifications of MAF's mishandling of the infestation could be felt for a very long time.

"MAF admits that the Painted Apple Moth has become so established that there is no guarantee that the eradication programme will work. We may end up having to live with this pest which could devastate both native bush and logging plantations. That's a very high price to pay, and the Government has a responsibility to make sure it never happens again."

The briefing will be held in G.10, Parliament House, Wellington on Thursday morning, 14 March. It will be open to the public.

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