Debate on 'process' twists GM discussions

Debate on 'process' twists GM discussions

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WHAT a week's it's been for the genetically-modified crop debate here in SA - it's been a bit like watching a tennis match.

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WHAT a week's it's been for the genetically-modified crop debate here in SA.

It's been a bit like watching a tennis match. The Greens MLC Mark Parnell seemed to have hit an ace with his disallowance motion blocking attempts to lift the moratorium through regulation, only for the government to return serve and quickly introduce legislation in state parliament's final guaranteed sitting week for the year.

SA-Best and Labor claimed their decision to support last week's disallowance motion was driven by concern the government was not following due parliamentary process.

Labor's Eddie Hughes accused Primary Industries Minister Tim Whetstone of acting "like a bull in a china shop", while SA-Best MLC Connie Bonaros said allowing the government to bypass the due parliamentary process could have "dire consequences".

Related reading: Decision time looms for SA GM ban

It's not that I disagree with the need to take parliamentary process into consideration. Effective governance requires rigorous debate, transparency and an adherence to a clear and well-understood process. We don't want to see lawmaking on a whim.

But seeking to remove what was designed to be a temporary ban can hardly be seen as acting on a whim - especially when it follows a thorough independent review.

Perhaps Labor would do well to put away its soap box and take a look back to the last time the GM moratorium was extended.

In 2017, Labor supported Mr Parnell's bill to push the GM moratorium's expiration date from 2019 back to 2025. It did so without consultation with growers, and without an independent review.

When parliament views itself as more important than the people, we all lose.

Now, here we are in a situation where Labor has helped blocked change on the grounds it had been left out of the decision-making process.

Have they stopped to consider that perhaps SA farmers felt the same in 2017 when MPs made decisions about what they could and couldn't do in their operations, while completely leaving them out of the debate?

I'm not saying it's a bad thing to see our politicians want to have their say on the important issues affecting our state. It's what they're elected to do. But it's a disappointing scenario when our politicians appear ambivalent about whether all South Australians are given the same opportunities.

When parliament views itself as more important than the people, we all lose.

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