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Baldock: Reinstate apple moth advisory groups

Media statement For immediate release Thursday, 23 January 2003

Baldock: Reinstate apple moth advisory groups

MAF must do more to work with the community in the fight against the painted apple moth, United Future MP Larry Baldock said today.

"It would be a step in the right direction to reinstate the Community Advisory Group (CAG) that was originally given a mandate from the community to represent their concerns," Mr Baldock, United Future's environment and conservation spokesman, said after meeting with West Auckland community representatives this week.

"After all the battles residents have had trying to get their concerns heard by the MAF health officials there is a very low level of trust in the community. The people I met were obviously suffering considerable health problems and had reasonable concerns and requests for assistance," he said.

Mr Baldock said MAF's spraying programme had exposed serious issues: "There has got to be a hard look at the way bio-security breaches are handled, but we also need to step back and ask just how effective New Zealand's current bio-security protection is. A thorough inquiry is needed to learn from this whole sorry saga.

People were having their lives turned upside down, he said.

"I heard from one family that have to get up at 4am on spray days to relocate out of the area, as well as businessmen who are losing significant income, and men and women who have lost jobs as well as their health.

"When we are asking people to make sacrifices for the good of the country and our economy, I think they deserve to be treated a little better than I have seen so far.

"It is disappointing to hear from people who are genuinely trying to offer suggestions to MAF, or who have reasonable requests for assistance, but feel they are being disregarded and treated with distain," Mr Baldock said.

Ends.

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