GE Free NZ, 13th June  2003

Public submissions must not be discarded by GE committee

Public submissions due today to the select committee considering the New Organisms and Other Matters Bill must not be discarded if they are part of form-submissions according to an agreement made with the Clerk of the committee by GE Free NZ in food and environment.

There has been alarm at MP's recent decision to reject submissions that are not duplicated 20 times, and the move risks excluding low-income individuals and cash-strapped community groups from participating in the process.

However, at least some public submissions will be protected from being discarded thanks to an agreement made some weeks ago that copies of formatted-submissions would be in sufficient numbers to meet the requirement to distribute 20 copies to MP's, media and officials.

" Angela Van Dam and I agreed that this was the best way to ensure people's response to the bill are heard. It was also proposed that additional comments from submitters could be collated and then copied for MP's and that volunteers could be made available to help if needed," says Jon Carapiet from GE Free NZ in food and environment.

The recent decision by MP's to reject submissions unless they are copied 20 times does not affect this agreement. 

Unfortunately the decision is much more likely to negatively impact individuals who have made submissions unaware of the strict rules being applied by the MP's.  " It is wrong to exclude people in this way, and I have written to the Clerk to ask that she notify submitters of the decision to only consider submissions with 20 copies in order that submitters can decide if they are able to supply 19 more copies or not," says Mr Carapiet. 

GE Free NZ in food and environment are concerned that the democratic process is not undermined by the MP's decision. Given the public are the taxpayers paying for copying we would like to see the Parliamentary staff offer assistance to anyone in hardship who is unable to send multiple copies even when contacted and asked to do so. 

" It is tragic if the cost of copying is allowed to stop New Zealanders participating in a process that is intended to ensure the best regulatory outcomes for this country," says Mr Carapiet. 

" The price for maintaining democracy in this case is probably less than the cost of the MP's lunches and drinks during their deliberations."

Contact Jon Carapiet 09 815 3370

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