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Re: Moth Pest Spray Date Announced

"The Cabinet decision to proceed with the seventh spray round is disappointing and short-sighted," Chairman of the Painted Apple Moth Community Advisory Group Kubi Witten-Hannah said today.

The Minister has presented a distorted picture to Cabinet. The PAMCAG has acknowledged that btk is a relatively safe pesticide but there have been problems with the particular formulation chosen by MAF.

If the Minister regards aerial spraying as an "important weapon against pest incursions" he should be cooperating with the advisory group calls to spray only as a last resort and to look after those people who do suffer adverse reactions. While the government has been prepared to spend $11 million on the spray operation it has not been prepared to meet the costs of those who are suffering as a result.

The fact that it is a small proportion of the people who have been sprayed makes the MAF refusal to take care of them even worse. People have had to fight hard for recognition of their health problems and even when MAF admits people are suffering they do not pay for treatment. Some people have been evacuated to a motel in the drift zone or ordered out of motels before it is safe for them to return home. Pressure put on doctors by MAF health consultants is also unacceptable.

If the liaison with the local community has been difficult the difficulties have been of MAF's making. They created the PAMCAG to liaise with the community; present community concerns and offer solutions. Despite the PAMCAG fulfilling their brief they have had difficulty getting MAF to listen. Despite MAF being given a million dollar publicity budget the PAMCAG has had to rely on their personal resources and the support of the Waitakere City Council to carry out their role.

Other problems have been caused by MAF's unwillingness to carry out essential research or to make use of the best expertise available in the field of pheromone development.

"If MAF is to be successful in dealing with urban pest incursions they will have to work with, not against the local communities," Mr Witten-Hannah said.

For more information: phone Kubi Witten-Hannah on (09) 8128851 or 025 2480282

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