NSW Greens MLC, Ian Cohen, has accused NSW Primary Industries Minister, Ian Macdonald, of avoiding a question on potential conflicts of interest relating to advice on genetically modified crops.
He said Mr Macdonald had been asked whether he would take action if it emerged that a member of his expert committee advising him on GM issues had failed to declare a direct or indirect pecuniary interest.
Mr Cohen said according to a Sydney Morning Herald report last year, the head of the Victorian government's GM advisory panel was 'the founder of a business designed to reap commercial gain from biotechnology'.
(The NSW and Victorian governments this year ended their moratoria on commercial production of GM canola).
'Minister Macdonald twice dodged my question...on conflict of interest at a time when debate rages in the community about exactly who will benefit from the legalisation of GM food crops in NSW,' Mr Cohen said.
He said the Minister had told Parliament that even if a panel member had failed to disclose a pecuniary interest, 'It would not constitute an act that would detract from the decisions of the committee.'
'In the context of what happened in Victoria I find it extraordinary that Minister Macdonald is so contemptuous of the public's right to know if this Government's panel is truly independent', Mr Cohen said.
2.Brumby suffers popularity drop
Canberra Times, 4 March 2008 [shortened]
Victorian Premier John Brumby's 'decisive' approach to genetically modified crops, dredging Port Phillip Bay and water is proving divisive with the electorate, a poll published yesterday shows.
The latest Newspoll revealed a 10-point jump in Mr Brumby's dissatisfaction rating compared with when he took over from the popular Steve Bracks last July.
But Labor still holds a commanding 12-point lead over the newly reformed Coalition of the Liberal and National parties, with opposition Leader Ted Baillieu trailing as preferred premier on 25 per cent to Mr Brumby's 48 per cent.
Water Minister Tim Holding was left to explain that the Government did not provide running commentary on polls, but those behind the scenes at Spring Street will be concerned that most of those who were undecided in the last poll gave Mr Brumby the thumbs down.
Monash University politics lecturer Nick Economou said the result was not surprising given community groups had formed in opposition to some of his more controversial decisions.