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Report shows there was no Corngate cover-up

Tuesday, 19 October, 2004

Baldock: Report shows there was no Corngate cover-up

The most significant finding of the Corngate inquiry is that there was no cover-up, United Future environment spokesman Larry Baldock said today.

Mr Baldock is a member of the Local Government and Environment Select Committee that conducted the investigation culminating in the report released today.

"The committee unanimously agreed that there was no cover-up and there were no direct ministerial instructions to officials, who as it was, had to work through a very difficult situation.

"And given these findings, frankly the scurrilous, politically-motivated and unsubstantiated claims made by Nicky Hager and the Greens have quite literally cost New Zealanders a huge amount of money with an unnecessary two-year inquiry," he said.

"It is clear that neither MAF nor ERMA or the Ministry for the Environment had thorough protocols in the event of an accidental release of GM material, and therefore, officials were faced with a very new situation," he said.

He said he agreed with Labour members that there was no conclusive evidence that GM corn was in fact in the country and therefore, while in hindsight officials could well have acted differently, their decisions were sound.

"Reading the conclusions of National, ACT, NZ First and The Greens, is a little like returning to the pages of Nicky Hager's book - fiction mixed with political agendas," he said.

The committee has, however, managed to make some useful recommendations and also have observed improved protocols put in place since the event of 2000.

United Future's position regarding GM remains one of caution and continuing to follow through on the Royal Commission's recommendation and the now stringent regulations surrounding ERMA's processes, Mr Baldock said.

ENDS

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