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Inquiry needed into MAF's moth inaction

Inquiry needed into MAF's moth inaction

Green MP Ian Ewen-Street today called for a Select Committee inquiry into the inaction of MAF that has led this morning to another day when Aucklanders have woken up to a further dousing of the toxic and completely unnecessary chemical spray.

Mr Ewen-Street, the Green Party spokesperson for Biosecurity, said MAF must be held to account for their dithering for the 2½ years from when the Painted Apple Moth was first discovered to when they started to do something about it.

"The people of Auckland have a fundamental right to know why they are still breathing this toxic chemical cocktail," said Mr Ewen-Street.

"This was despite the leak of a report this week that raises serious doubts about the safety of Foray 48B that is currently being sprayed over thousands of residents.

"If MAF had acted in a timely fashion, instead of treating it as an academic exercise for nearly three years while the moth spread throughout West Auckland, there would not be any need whatsoever for MAF's massive spray operation.

"We must know why MAF did not enforce vegetation movement restrictions, why they did not inform residents what the Painted Apple Moth even looked like and the threat it posed, and why they did not give Dr John Clearwater access to live female moths to develop bait pheromones until it was far, far too late.

"I have raised the call for an inquiry previously through the Primary Production Select Committee, only for other members to vote it down," he said. "Surely we are here to protect both the people and the environment of West Auckland.

Mr Ewen-Street said the inquiry should consider:
* Why the Government and the Ministry of Health have suppressed a report into the safety of the spray, Foray 48B, when it was completed months ago.

* Why MAF continued to decline the Dr Clearwater's request for live moths to develop a pheromone for free - and when given the chance Dr Clearwater's team had succeeded only in a matter of weeks.

* The systemic mismanagement of the infestation.

* Why a programme for aerial spraying had been developed by February 2001 - two years after the moth was discovered in 1999 - and yet no one was consulted about it until September 2001.

"MAF must be held to account for why they completely stuffed up the early eradication of what has become a serious threat to our Biosecurity," said Mr Ewen-Street.

"People have suffered major health problems because of this so a Parliamentary inquiry is the best mechanism to uncover the truth behind the matter."

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