Mr PEDERICK (Hammond) (15:55): I rise to support the Genetically Modified Crops Management (Designated Area) Amendment Bill 2019. Much has been said about science and much has been said about time, and I am going to add a little bit more to this debate. Quite frankly, it is ridiculous that our farmers have been denied this technology for the last 15 years simply based on ideology, and it is ideology.

What we are talking about here with genetically modified crops is basically accelerated breeding. We have seen our fantastic Waite campus—our great research centre here in South Australia—hampered in its ability to fully utilise its plant breeding services and the plant accelerator process, certainly in regard to the GM side of that research, because of this Stone Age approach to genetically modified crops.

If people did the research and had a look at which supermarket foods are genetically modified they would be absolutely stunned. As has been said here today, there are hundreds of products but the one I want to dwell on for the moment is soy, 99 per cent of which comes from a genetically modified source. Basically, you could say 100 per cent. Anyone who has anything to do with soy milk or soy lattes, you are consuming a genetically modified product.

Something else that has been discussed today is Bt cotton. What a boon it was to develop Bt cotton so that many insecticide sprays did not have to be used. In the old days, cotton crops were maybe sprayed 10 to 12 times and now it might be only two to five times because of the benefits of that genetically modified product. I know from being a farmer—and I have grown plenty of canola in the past, thousands of acres of it, obviously not GM canola—that you want to have the best seed you can get and the best access to technology. With whatever crops you grow, you want to use the least amount of insecticide possible.

Two products I have used in my farming career are spray seed and insecticide sprays. They are some of the most dangerous sprays you can handle. Obviously, insecticides kill living organisms. I guess any chemical will have a detrimental effect on you in the right amount, but insecticides—S7s and S8s—can really have a damaging effect. I have spoken before in this place about how DDT was previously used in large quantities in the agriculture sector. It was a great chemical but I think it was overused.

Before GPS technology, we used it with the spray planes to spray barley grub in crops. You would stand there with a red flag and then run 30 or 40 yards to the next spot for the next mark. Occasionally, the tap did not come off so you wore a bit of DDT. Certainly, knowing as a young bloke that you had to get in and get sheep that would not come out of those arsenic-based dips that used to be used, you had to be very careful how you managed these products.

I would like to commend what has happened in the cotton industry, not that there has been a lot of cotton grown, obviously, with the crisis in the Murray-Darling Basin, as generally cotton is only grown when there is rain. We know that Cubbie Station has been dry for two years, and that is just one place; there are plenty of others that grow cotton north of South Australia. When they are growing it, if there has to be less insecticide, that is only a bonus and a boon for people growing that crop and operating in the field.

When I look at drugs that have been manufactured with genetic modification, one is insulin for sugar diabetes. What a great boon that is for people suffering the health effects of sugar diabetes. We would not have insulin if it were not for genetic modification, and that is just a fact. As the member for Finniss said, some of the flu vaccines that most of us are injected with have some level of genetic modification.

So the time for debate is over. We need to get on with it and we need to pass this legislation. It is a real shame that when people get off their ideological bandwagon they then resort to process and say that process was not followed when we used regulation, or the minister used regulation from this side of the house, to get rid of the moratorium. I call on people in the parliament to have a good think about how they are voting on this . We are going to get there: we either do it this way or we do it the regulatory way. People can disallow and we can bring back the regulations.

Why are people standing in the way of our drought-stricken farmers? We have people in here preaching to us about climate change and their views of the world, but when it gets to this will they really stand up and vote to support this change? I notice that in his speech the member for Giles, the shadow minister for agriculture, talked about a lot of things, but what he could not bring himself to say—he is probably not allowed to because they speak as one over there, or so we are told—was that he actually supports this. He could not say that. He wanted to say it. It would be churning him up inside. It would be just chewing him out.

I would have loved to have been around the table for some of the conversations he would have had with the Labor members—the member for Mawson and others—because this might be causing quite a bit of internal division on the other side. It is absolute madness that at a time when farmers not just in this state but right across this country are really suffering with the effects of dry and drought we restrict the ability to use one of the absolute vital tools and to give them choice.

This does not mean that 10,000 farmers are going to go out there and sow canola. What it means is that the many thousands of farmers in this state can make a choice and say, 'Hang on. Yes, we'll have a go. We'll put in a paddock or two and see how it goes.' It is all about rotation. In discussing that, I note the fantastic contribution from the Deputy Speaker, the member for Flinders, on the use of Roundup.

I believe, as he does, that Roundup is the greatest invention since traction engines. It has been a boon for agriculture. We seem to have this senseless debate in other parts of the world, where they are trying to say that Roundup is this huge problem. I can tell you, and I have said it in this place before, that if you get rid of glyphosate, or Roundup, the trade name, you will have one of the biggest environmental problems known to man. If we ever go back to farming the way we used to, when we used to cultivate land many multiple times, we will have a real problem.

It irks me that we came into this place today and heard all the filibustering, votes and calls for division so that we would not reach a decision. Labor members—we do not yet know whether it is most of them or all of them—blocked the regulatory change and are putting the livelihoods of South Australian farmers at risk. This is putting another tool in the toolbox so that our farmers can catch up with their counterparts in the Eastern States and Western Australia.

It is ludicrous. This moratorium has been in place for far too long. Seed has to be transported around South Australia to reach Western Australia. It is absolutely farcical. I know that genetically modified seed has been grown in South Australia under licence. Trials have been conducted with genetically modified seed. Farmers who own land on both sides of the border can quite happily grow genetically modified canola or safflower on the Victorian side but not on the South Australian side. It is keeping us so far back on a production basis and on a research basis that it is absolutely ludicrous.

Some of those in this house or in the other place who use words like 'process' make out that they are the farmers' friend. Let's see who are the farmers' friends. Let's see who stands up in this debate this week, because this bill will sniff you out. This bill with identify the farmers' friends, because farmers just want the right to grow this. As I said, they do not have to grow it.

Some interesting things have happened over time. There was a significant court case in Western Australia that involved a crop between Kojonup and Katanning. Some friends of mine live very close to where that happened, and all was not as it seemed. There were allegations of manipulation to achieve a result. There has been some senseless carry-on in the background of this debate. We just need to get on with it. We need to move this legislation.

Yes, we have brought it in this week because the regulatory change could not happen. There is feigned outrage from the other side, especially from the member for West Torrens. He is trying to preach to our side about procedure, especially to our new team from 2018. I am not going to be lectured by the member for West Torrens, when I sat for three terms in opposition and saw what the previous government did with regard to bills that were introduced and debated without notice.

If you are going to make an argument, come in here with clean hands. The member for West Torrens does not have clean hands on this issue. I refer to a piece of legislation that was debated in this way. When the planning bill was debated in 2016, the then member for Enfield (Hon. John. Rau) introduced 300 amendments to his own legislation. You have to wonder why the previous government had 300 amendments to their own planning legislation. Yes, it was big legislation, but you would think they would have had it organised.

We were not at the introduction stage of the legislation, as we were today when we heard the feigned outrage. We were 50 clauses into the committee stage when the Hon. John Rau introduced environment and food protection areas as part of the legislation. It was outrageous. I have heard the feigned outrage from the other side in this place and how we are terrible people. If you are going to make those accusations, come in here with clean hands.

It is absolutely ridiculous. As to the Environment and Food Production Areas, I know some people may think that I, as a farmer, would think that it is a great idea, that we can slow down development so that farmers do not have the opportunity to build a second house on their property, maybe for a son or a daughter or a workman. But it actually hinders the development process, which is obviously going through the Planning and Design Code changes now under that legislation through our new minister, the member for Schubert. But it is actually a hindrance. We have enough regulatory process and enough red tape during the planning process.

I have the bizarre situation in my electorate where on one side of the river, in the Rural City of Murray Bridge, they are affected by the Environment and Food Production Area and, on the other side, with the Coorong District Council they are not. It is just absolutely bizarre. It hinders development and there is no sense in it. Yes, people can check Hansard, do their homework. At the 50th clause in committee, that was introduced, so people should come in here with clean hands if they are going to wring their hands. It was not the only piece of legislation that has been pushed through.

For people to think this has snuck up on them out of the blue, where have they been for the last 15 years since the moratorium was put through with legislation in 2004? They must have been hiding under a rock. There have been reports, there have been committees and there has been a lot of research. Let's just get on with it and give our farmers the choice, and it is just the choice. They do not have to grow it. Get on board. Nothing has gone wrong in Victoria, nothing has gone wrong in New South Wales. We have not seen dramas in Western Australia. What the heck are we doing?

Let's get behind our farmers. For all those people in this place, or that other place somewhere else in this building, they want to have a good think about whether they are the farmer's friend. I support the legislation.

Be the first to comment

Please check your e-mail for a link to activate your account.