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Smoking gun on 'Corngate' cover-up

Hon Nick Smith MP National Party Environment Spokesman

27 August 2003

Smoking gun on 'Corngate' cover-up

National Party Environment spokesman Nick Smith has produced evidence which shows Helen Clark misled the public over the 'Corngate' scandal in the crucial lead-up to the last election.

"Helen Clark told New Zealanders during the election campaign that there would be 'total disclosure' 'full disclosure' and 'all Government advice would be made public', while her Chief Executive Mark Prebble, knowingly kept secret key advice to her.

"This is an outrageous abuse of executive power," says Dr Smith.

"I can not believe that the head of the Prime Minister's own department would deliberately defy her very public instructions without seeking her consent.

"Either the Prime Minister knew or alternatively Mr Prebble defied her and deprived the public of crucial information about Helen Clark's involvement in 'Corngate'.

"In December 2000, right at the time key decisions were being made about the handling of the GM scare, Helen Clark was advised there was uncertainty about whether the corn was contaminated or not, that the blanket GM ban was not sustainable and that there was a proposed level of tolerance.

"These statements significantly contradict what the Prime Minister told the public during the election campaign.

"Helen Clark has consistently said there was no cover-up, but 10 days before the election policy advisor Ruth Wilkie sent a damning memo. It said 'the decision to withhold from public release DPMC notes to the PM' which ' fill an important gap in the paper trail' was contrary to Helen Clark's public statement of total transparency.

"If Helen Clark wants to stick to her line that she did not know that this document was with-held, then her chief executive must resign for defying her specific public instructions on the most important election issue.

"The next test will come tomorrow, when my motion for the Prime Minister to give evidence before the select committee investigating 'Corngate' will be voted on," Dr Smith says.

"If Labour has nothing to hide, the Government majority on that committee will support her appearance.

"Labour demanded Jenny Shipley appear before the Justice Select Committee inquiry into the Christchurch protest during the Chinese President's visit. The challenge will be whether they apply the same test to their own Prime Minister," says Dr Smith.


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