ACT leader talks over GE-free issue

By Patrick O'Sullivan

ACT leader and Epsom MP David Seymour. Photo / Duncan Brown
ACT leader and Epsom MP David Seymour. Photo / Duncan Brown

ACT leader and Epsom MP David Seymour met Pure Hawke's Bay growers who were concerned with the threats to Hastings District Council's declaration of a GE-free district yesterday.

A change to the Resource Management Act, enabling the Government to overrule such a declaration, is making its way through Parliament and Federated Farmers is challenging the council declaration in the courts.

Growers met Mr Seymour at Mike Russell's property in Hastings where he grows peas, beans, sweetcorn, maize and plums.

"We got some plums into China this year, which is quite an exciting market for us," Mr Russell said.

"We put all our fruit in our own labelled box - Russells' Plums is our label.

"At the moment it says, Grown in Hawke's Bay, but we would very much like to say, Grown in GE-free Hawke's Bay."

He supported Hastings District's Council's declaration of a GE-free district, which was being contested in court by Federated Farmers.

When he first started farming 40 years ago with wife Jules "it was all about production".

"Now it's about marketing."

He said if markets wanted GE-free food "then I don't want mine contaminated from across the fence".

Mr Seymour said he had no "hard and fast rule" on the science of genetics but he was against the proposed RMA changes. It centralised power which led to poor decisions, added red tape and required more consultation with iwi "which personally I think is deeply offensive despite my Ngapuhi roots".

He predicted a National-led government after the next election, hopefully in coalition with ACT.

The experiences of previous governments' coalitions with New Zealand First and its leader Winston Peters were "like being in bed with a gorilla - "you don't stop when you're tired".

The present government "was far too smart" and an alternative was "a resurgent ACT Party".

Mr Seymour also met with Te Aranga Marae representative Henare O'Keefe to discuss its social housing proposal in Flaxmere using Housing New Zealand houses.

Mr Seymour said he last met Mr O'Keefe in Canada where Mr Seymour worked for a think tank.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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