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Government Refused to Receive Community Concerns

Media Release - 14 November 2002

Government Refused to Receive Community Concerns

Stop Aerial Spraying spokesperson, Sue Berman, is disappointed that neither Prime Minister Helen Clark nor members of her Cabinet made themselves available to receive a 400 plus signed letter expressing concern about the aerial spray campaign to eradicate the Painted Apple Moth, when she travelled to Wellington last week.

"Cabinet's apparent lack of interest in this matter reflects a government out of step with the community, and frankly makes a mockery of MAF's claim of be taking care of the community".

The letter expresses dismay at the lack of consideration given to the development of alternative recommendations to eradicate the Painted Apple Moth, especially in light of the evident health and environmental costs. Signatures to the letter were limited in collection to one morning when over 600 members of the public attended a Sprayfree Coalition rally opposing aerial spraying (12/10/01).

Waitakere City Mayor, Bob Harvey, offered to take the letter, which also reflects the concerns of Council, to his scheduled meeting with the Prime Minister on the issue. However Stop Aerial Spraying spokesperson Sue Berman was herself going to Wellington and so requested an opportunity to speak about the issue herself. Although the office of the Prime Minister was given plenty of notice of Ms Berman's intended visit to Wellington the only correspondence received was that the matter was before the Prime Minister for her consideration. Ms Berman stated clearly in her correspondence that she would be satisfied with meeting any of the concerned portfolio holders in Cabinet, including local MP's - however none of the Labour members made themselves available.

"I am concerned at the arrogance of the government on this issue and the polarisation that is occurring in the community. The MAF designed eradication programme forces people to seemly choose between 'protecting NZ' and having safe air and water; my research indicates that it is much more complex than that and I don't believe the alternatives have been thoroughly enough explored".

Stop Aerial Spraying would like to see a public inquiry on the matter, so issues of management of both the eradication and health programs can be examined. "Without any significant public health assessment/monitoring having been done here or overseas it is criminal to be using this spray".

The content of the undelivered letter reads:

12 October 2002

To the Prime Minister, Cabinet Members & the Director of MAF

As a community currently affected by, and deeply concerned about the ongoing cost of the aerial spray campaign, we request that Cabinet reconsider their decision to broaden the program.

We are appalled that this decision was made against recommendations which included ceasing aerial spraying and controlling the Painted Apple Moth by groundwork and trapping.

Community co-operation is key to the success of any eradication project. MAF have failed to listen to community advice and concerns, as well as local authority recommendations. As a result it has jeopardised the potential for success of eradication. Continuing aerial spraying will reduce community co-operation and limit the chances of success even further.

We demand a new approach be taken to this campaign that does not compromise the health, social and economic well being of the people of West Auckland. We say NO TO AERIAL SPRAY.

Government Frustrates Access to Information Stop Aerial Spraying is frustrated by the general resistance of government to an open analysis of the MAF operation. The group has requested documents under the Official Information Act, requesting urgency under S12, and have not yet received the material. Ms Berman has laid a complaint with the ombudsman.

Contact details:

Stop Aerial Spraying


Po Box 95 091


09 833 3421


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