GREENS MOTION: Disallowance of Regulations to lift the moratorium on GM crops on mainland SA

Today Mark moved once more to disallow regulations that lifted the GM crops moratorium on mainland SA on 1 January 2020. 

I move:

That the regulations under the Genetically Modified Crops Management Act 2004 concerning Designation of Area No. 2, made on 19 December 2019 and laid on the table of this council on 5 February 2020, be disallowed.

This disallowance motion is the same as the one that I moved last year, which was supported by the Legislative Council. The regulations that we disallowed last year were a sneaky and cynical attempt to lift the longstanding moratorium on the commercial growing of GM crops on mainland South Australia. The government's response to the defeat of their regulations was to reintroduce exactly the same regulations, but this time they waited until it was too late for the Legislative Council to consider them again before the Christmas break. As a consequence, the moratorium was lifted on 1 January and will remain lifted until the Legislative Council votes again to reinstate the moratorium, hopefully in two weeks' time, on 4 March.

The government fully expects that this will be the result. They expect the result to be the same as it was last time because nothing has changed. Those who voted to disallow these regulations last time all expressed dissatisfaction with the process, in particular the need to deal with this matter through legislation rather than sneakily by regulation.

The government has now introduced a bill. I do not like the bill, but it is certainly a better process to follow. It is the correct process, but the uncertainty that is created by the government's deliberate thumbing of its nose at parliament has not been lost on farmers. Even Grain Producers SA has been advising its members that the lifting of the moratorium may be short-lived and that they should seriously consider the consequences of planting GM crops. Fortunately, it is not yet canola planting season, so the likelihood of any farmers actually having planted any GM crops since 1 January is very low.

Just in case anyone doubts that this is well and truly South Australia's own groundhog day, the bill the government has introduced is the same as the one last year that was also rejected, primarily because the government refused to consider any amendments. What we need to do in the Legislative Council is to vote as soon as possible to disallow these regulations, then we can debate the government's bill. I expect that bill will be even more thoroughly scrutinised than it was last time, and I expect there will again be many amendments moved.

I am not going to take up a lot of time today repeating what I have said on many occasions in relation to the benefits to South Australia of keeping a moratorium on GM crops. I made a lengthy contribution back on 10 December last year on this topic, and I refer members to that contribution. I will not repeat it again here.

Back on 10 December, I did refer to Dr John Paull, who is an environmental scientist at the School of Land and Food at the University of Tasmania. Members might remember that Dr Paull submitted a review, or a critique, of Professor Anderson's government-sponsored review into the GM crops moratorium. Dr Paull's work was entitled 'A review of the independent review of the South Australian GM food crop moratorium and 14 alternative findings'.

I am delighted to be able to report that Dr Paull has agreed to come to Adelaide. I expect that he will be here in parliament in our next sitting week. He will come here to meet with and talk to members of parliament. I will make sure that members have the chance to talk to Dr Paull before we bring this disallowance motion to a vote, which I will very shortly notify all members will be on Wednesday 4 March.

I do not think that this debate is going to go away anytime soon. We certainly have this motion disallowing the regulations, we have a government bill, and various other members have flagged GM issues they want to put on the agenda. So we will have a lot more to say about this topic, but for now all I need do, as I have done, is move that the regulations be disallowed and I advise members, and I will do it again in writing, that I will be bringing this to a vote on the next Wednesday of sitting.