Debates Day 1 - Tuesday 5 October 2004
Parliamentary Record 22
Debates for 9th Assembly 2001 - 2005; ParliamentNT; Parliamentary Record; 9th Assembly 2001 - 2005
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Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory
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Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory
DEBATES - Tuesday 5 October 2004 I have to take up a few issues that the minister raised. He spoke about the Daly River Reference Group. The Daly River Reference Group is not allowed to talk about cotton. It was not even allowed to talk about it then; they were not mature enough to take on those issues. Whether you agree with them or not is irrelevant. However, surely if we are going to talk about the Daly River, all things are on the table. But no, cotton was not part of that, dams were not part of that; we could not discuss them. I do not mean I agree with them; do not take me wrong there, minister. I know you will say: Oh, he supports dams, he supports cotton. However, they were not on the table for debate in the Daly River and that is a shame. M r Henderson: Because we do not want to dam the Daly River. M r WOOD: Let the people ... M r Burke: You do not know what you want. M r WOOD: The member for Wanguri must be the kindergarten teacher. He cannot let the little children discuss these issues as mature adults. Everything should have been on the table in the Daly River Reference Group. If they came back and said, No cotton, no dams, well that is what they said. You put the words in their mouth before they could even look at it. The minister talked about GM. Genetic engineering or genetic modification is a huge industry. To lump genetic modification of food crops in with cotton shows the minister is ignorant about what genetic engineering in cotton is about. You do n o t... Dr Bonson: What about people - genetic engineering of people? How can you ... M r WOOD: Member for Millner, let me finish. Members inteijecting. M r WOOD: Member for Millner, I am not saying that all genetic engineering is supported. Genetic engineering is such a broad term for so many things ... M r Bonson: That is right. M r WOOD: That is right. I am not saying I support all forms of genetic engineering. However, we are talking about a particular issue here; that is, the genetic engineering of cotton. What does that mean? What is the genetic engineering of cotton? It relates to the use of a protein called Bacillus thuringiensis - which you can buy from Bunnings in a packet called Dipel which you spray on your tomatoes - being attached to a gene in the cotton plant which kills that same caterpillar. It is not about changing the cotton plant; the cotton plant is exactly the same cotton plant. It is by adding - using technology-a protein to that plant that kills the caterpillar. That is why they do not have to spray the plant. I am not talking about having salmon genes connected to tomatoes. Dr Burns: Well, you still have to spray. Do not say that. M r WOOD: Excuse me, member for Johnson! The member obviously has not read the report, and did not quite listen to me. They spray twice for a different insect altogether. They were not sprayed for that particular insect... Dr Burns: Except in resistance. Mr WOOD: Well, I am not sure. However, what I am hearing here is probably a lack of knowledge, a lack of science, which I am hoping this committee will be able to find, to tell the parliament exactly what the issues related to cotton are. However, we are not going to get anywhere because this is about populism. It is not about treating our constituents as mature adults who can at least make up their minds when all the information is given to them. If we come back with a report and the people still say: No, no good, or the committee comes back and says: Look, this is not going to happen in the Northern Territory because of this and this - fair enough. However, we are not even going down that first stage. We are making a decision, sorted out in the Cabinet room, based on people would not want to hear about that. I do not think people have been given all the information. If they have been given all the information and they then decide, that is a different matter. This debate has gone to trying to shift the issue before us to saying: The member for Nelson supports cotton; he does not mind if the rivers all get stuffed up etcetera. That is not the case. This is simply asking for an inquiry. I have put a case using the particular crop they have banned - cotton - based on my own perception of what is happening in a very changing industry in a very changing world, and changing technology. We cannot be stagnant and say: This is what happened 20 years ago, therefore, we make our decisions based on that. We make our decisions based on what is happening today - good science, good technology, good understanding - and put all that information out to the public.