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MAF - Undermining The Integrity Of Their Own Group

May 1st 2002

MAF - "Undermining The Integrity Of Their Own Group"

The Society Targeting Overuse of Pesticides (STOP) is accusing The Ministry of Agriculture & Forestry (MAF) of undermining the integrity of the very Community Group they set up to represent the views of the public.

Hana Blackmore, the STOP member on the MAF-established Painted Apple Moth Community Advisory Group, said that a MAF spokeswoman had publicly accused the Group of misleading the community and failing to stick to it's job.

"In one breath, Ms Crawford has told us it was our job to convey resident's concerns to MAF, but holding a public meeting to obtain those views was a 'waste of time'" said Hana.

A public meeting on Monday 29th April, called by the CAG to review all options for the continued eradication of the Painted Apple Moth, unanimously endorsed the CAG non-aerial spray solution.

MAF proposes to blanket aerial spray between 12,000 and 50,000 hectares of greater Auckland in a last ditch attempt to halt the progress of the pest, said Hana Blackmore. "But this is NOT what the community wants, and they had let us know this in no uncertain terms. The Group had therefore developed a fifth option to reflect those views."

"It is ironic" said Hana Blackmore, "that in developing this option, we were fulfilling the very role that our terms of reference states - 'communicating the concerns of the community and suggesting possible solutions'.

"The fact that the CAG has developed a community solution to the eradication problem seems to bother MAF. There can be no other reason for their 'sour grapes' retort in the NZ Herald on Monday, that the Group should stick to their job and not 'pretend' to be scientists and expert advisors".

Far from playing, said Hana, the CAG takes its responsibilities very seriously, and for MAF to suggest otherwise simply serves to undermine their integrity.

"I think if Ms Crawford cared to check out our credentials she would be surprised to see how well qualified the Group is."

Members of Parliament at the meeting, David Cunliffe and Ian Ewen-Street, both denied the MAF statement that it was too late for feedback from the public. They confirmed that CAG's option five would be included in the paper going to Cabinet this month.

Ends

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