INDEPENDENT NEWS

Anti-GE Campaign fails to get local body traction

Published: Mon 15 Oct 2001 01:38 PM
Anti-GE Campaign fails to get traction in local body elections
Analysis of the preliminary results shows the campaign by GE-Free New Zealand to make the GM issue a local body election issue has failed, the Chairman of the Life Sciences Network, Dr William Rolleston said today.
“Nationally only 92 of the candidates identified by GE-Free NZ were elected to 1086 City Council, District Council and Regional Council positions (8.5%). This cannot be seen as support for the Green Party because a substantial number were candidates who were clearly not Green candidates
“Even worse for the Green Party; only one of their candidates managed to get elected on the Green ticket. In Auckland, not one of the 7 Green Party or independent Green candidates managed to get sufficient support to get elected.
“Many high profile supporters of the GE-Free election campaign such as Wellington’s Mary Varnham, and the Alliance Party President, Matt McCarten, were resoundingly beaten by opponents who were not prepared to sign the GE-Free pledge.
“In Blenheim, sitting Marlborough District Council Chairman and anti-GE advocate, Gerald Hope, was soundly defeated.
“Only Nelson has elected a Council where a majority of Councillors support the GE-Free position, hardly a surprise.
“In Napier, much hailed recently when its outgoing Council voted for Napier to become the second GE-Free city, only three of the 12 members of the new Council endorsed the GE-Free NZ voting register.
“Fraser Palmer-Hesketh, well known Ashburton to Wellington GE-Free walker, Green candidate for the Ashburton Ward of the Ashburton District Council was the lowest polling candidate and the only one not to be elected.
“Harry Parke, partner of Green Party co-leader Jeanette Fitzsimons, failed to win election to the Thames Coromandel District Council from the Thames Ward.
“Rex Verity and Paul De Spa, long-time anti-GM campaigners, were both rejected in their bids to gain election in Canterbury.
“It’s clear from the results that the GE-Free campaign has failed to install sufficient numbers of representatives at local government level to achieve their objective of using local decision making as a means to get a GE-Free New Zealand.
“It’s also possible to infer from some of the local results that having been identified by GE-Free New Zealand as supporting the anti-GM position may well have counted against some candidates in the ballot box.
“Despite the high public profile of the GM issue, the weekend’s results are further confirmation that the significant majority of New Zealanders are not willing to go as far as anti-GM campaigners want them to go. The public does not want to cut off our opportunities by severe restrictions on the use of the technology for health, economic and environmental benefit.
“The anti-GM activists had a clear opportunity to show how much public support they had for their cause. They have failed to deliver the sort of result which warrants the Government making any concessions to the Greens on this issue.
“Even with all their street activity and marches the anti-GM campaigners have not been able to translate their support into votes – which is surely the critical test,” concluded Dr Rolleston.
ENDS

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