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Madge Mothers Milked by AgResearch

Media Advisory

Monday, September 22, 2003 RE: Judicial Review

Madge Mothers Milked by AgResearch

Today Justice Potter ordered MAdGE to pay Court costs to the tune of $24,000 to AgResearch a taxpayer funded body.

"We are outraged at the judgment of the Court. It was well known by the court and AgResearch the amount of money we had available to us, and the size of this costs order if enforced at this time, will send Madge to the wall," said MAdGE legal spokeswoman, Kate Woodd.

This judgment will act as a huge deterrent for voluntary and community organisations in New Zealand, who perform a critical watchdog role of government organisations set up to protect the rights and interests of the public.

It also makes a mockery of public access to justice, particularly when important issues of interest to the public need to be reviewed by the court. At the outset of the case, the Court underscored the need and importance of the public performing a watchdog role, a fundamental tenet of a free and democratic society.

If voluntary community based organisations such as MAdGE are not able to undertake this watchdog role then it forecasts a hazardous future for New Zealand's society and the accountability of governmental bodies in their decision-making.

Three lawyers worked on this case unpaid and another two were paid a nominal fee for their services. All involved believed that this case was important for all New Zealanders. It raised serious and valid questions of interpretation and the application of the law, which needed to be addressed by the Court.

The Chief Executive of ERMA, Bas Walker welcomed the case earlier this year saying: " it will assist in strengthening the interpretive material

relating to the Hazardous Substances and New Organisms Act." Neither the Minister, the Hon. Marion Hobbs, nor ERMA thought it appropriate to seek their costs in this case.

MAdGE is a national non-profit voluntary organisation, with 1600 members ranging from single mums in Otago, to nanas in Hamilton, to doctors in Auckland and Farmers in Northland. AgResearch is a Crown Institute that has access to taxpayers' money to pay their lawyers. MAdGE has no such access to public funds.

"Madge can't afford to pay, it's back to the cake stalls or bust,"

Alannah Currie, MAdGE founder.

END.

MAdGE is a rapidly growing network of politically non-aligned women who have decided to actively resist the use of genetically engineered organisms in our food and on our land. For further information please contact Maike Nevill on 09 849 2411 or 027 247 1375


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