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Government must pay for toxic tests

2 November, 2004

Government must pay for toxic tests

Green MP, Sue Kedgley says the Government has a duty to pay for tests on all the Auckland properties possibly affected by pesticide contamination.

The Auckland City Council has revealed that nearly 5000 properties built on former horticultural land could be contaminated with DDT, arsenic and lead.

"Successive governments have gone to great lengths to assure us that pesticides and their residues are safe, and Councils have approved housing on horticultural land on that basis," said Ms Kedgley, the Green Health spokesperson. "Now that these assurances have turned out to be false, the Government must take responsibility for the contamination.

"The Government also has a duty to pay for tests on all the properties caught up in the contamination zones. We have the scandalous situation of people being left to guess whether it's safe to eat vegetables from their garden or let their kids play on the lawn, and being told to pay for expensive testing themselves.

"This is shocking. Clearly the buck clearly rests with central government and it must pay for the tests and any subsequent clean-up."

Ms Kedgley warned that the Auckland contamination was just the tip of the iceberg. She said many homes, schools and playgrounds all around New Zealand have been built on or next to former market gardens or orchards that had been saturated with toxic chemical sprays for decades.

"The Government should long ago have withdrawn registration of all pesticides that persist in the environment and developed a pesticides reduction plan, to decrease the amount of pesticides used in agriculture," said Ms Kedgley.

The New Zealand government has consistently dragged its feet in recognising the hazards of pesticides, and we are all now paying the price for its inaction.

"The Green Party also strongly advocates the introduction of an eco-tax funded 'pollution fund' to pay for tests, clean-ups and compensation. An eco-tax on the production of toxic chemicals would shift the tax burden away from ordinary New Zealanders and onto those whose actions create and spread the pollutants."

ENDS

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