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Questions linger after hijack of Corngate inquiry

Hon. Dr Nick Smith MP National Party Environment Spokesman

19 October 2004

Questions linger after Govt hijack of Corngate inquiry

"The select committee inquiry into Corngate failed to uncover the truth about what occurred because of the Government's abuse of its numbers on the committee," says National Party Environment spokesman Nick Smith.

"Labour members on the committee blocked a bid for the Prime Minister to give evidence, despite the fact that her department refused the public release of key documents during the election campaign.

"The Labour committee members also refused to take the necessary steps to require Genescan, the New Zealand Government-owned Australian testing laboratory, to release the test results that showed the corn was contaminated.

"The lab results Labour hangs its hat on, which say the corn was not contaminated, come from a company that has subsequently been de-registered.

"Officials went to extraordinary lengths to give oral evidence that contradicted the paper record. It is absolutely plain from the paper trail that the Government set an illegal tolerance of known contamination and that six months later this was reversed.

"This split report is a tragedy for Parliament. Labour members were more interested in protecting the Prime Minister than finding out the truth over what occurred with this suspect batch of corn.

"The most important conclusion for National from this inquiry is that the zero tolerance law was an impractical sham. Instead of admitting that the law was defective, the Government and its officials were less than honest with the public," says Dr Smith.

Ends

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