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Better Public Process In GE Inquiry Needed

Greenpeace Calls For Better Public Process In Royal Commission Consultation

Wednesday 20 September 2000, Auckland, New Zealand
Greenpeace yesterday sent a clear message to the Minister for the Environment, Marian Hobbs, calling on the Minister to considerably improve the public process for the Royal Commission of Inquiry on Genetic Modification. In a letter to the Minister, Greenpeace expressed concern at the apparent lack of commitment to make the process as inclusive as possible.

“We are calling upon Marian Hobbs to extend the public participation process into next year, and have public meetings on the weekends,” said Annette Cotter, Greenpeace GE campaigner. “The current process places many barriers in the way of the public having their say on this very important issue.”

Holding these meetings during office hours is a key barrier to participation. The RCI press release on 12 September said “Those who are unable to attend the workshop during the day, are welcome to attend the reporting back session in the evening.” The implication in this statement is that the only time for participation is during working hours, and any one attending after business hours may only hear feedback on what has already happened.

“There has been little public notification and very little notice about the upcoming meetings, indeed, until the 12 September (one week before the meetings started) the only meeting that was confirmed was the first, in Invercargill. The lack of advance notice and public advertising of the first event, was reflected in the lack of participation in the first public meeting where only 15 people showed up,” said Ms Cotter.

“The other strand of public participation, written submissions, is equally limiting in its participatory capacities. The submission form is complicated, and the process not publicised or promoted,” said Ms Cotter.

“When the Royal Commission was announced, Marian Hobbs promised that the public consultation strand of the Inquiry would be comprehensive, and would allow for meaningful public input. However the current process has not reflected that commitment, therefore we strongly urge her to make the appropriate amendments,” said Ms Cotter.

For further information, contact Annette Cotter on 09 630 6317 or 025 927 301

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