The Hon. G.G. BROCK (Frome) (16:44): Firstly, I would just like to talk on this matter. There has been a lot of discussion today from both sides. When the regulations were disallowed last week, I said to the minister that I thought this may not have been brought up in the parliament again until the new year; however, it is here today. I have been making some phone calls today to my community to ascertain whether there are any concerns with the lifting of the moratorium. I have had six phone calls today from people who thought the moratorium was still in place. Of course, a few of the regulations the minister was trying to put through last week were overturned.
These six people were very agitated at the thought they were not going to have the choice of whether to grow GM crops, etc. I assured them that the minister had today reintroduced a bill into the parliament for us to debate here in this chamber, and they were much more relaxed about having the opportunity for the discussion to go on. They indicated to me that they would like to see the moratorium lifted. During the discussions I have had with various people over the last 12 months, only three people have come forward asking for the moratorium to stay in place.
I know that members on both sides have their views, but I live in an area where there is mixed farming. There are grapes, barley, wheat and also canola. When I was talking to the minister this morning, my concerns were with the grapegrowers association, particularly in the Clare Valley, and whether there is any risk there. The minister has given me a very good commitment that he has had discussions with the grapegrowers association, the peak body, and they did not have any concerns regarding the moratorium being lifted and people in the Clare Valley, in particular, having the opportunity to be able to grow the crops that they are looking for.
Farmers out there are no fools. They look at every opportunity scientifically. We have to make a decision on whether or not we support this proposal from the minister. I think farmers have to have the opportunity to grow the crops that they choose and, at the same time, we have to be very mindful of the return that they will get for their produce across the whole of the region. I heard that farmers were achieving a premium for GM-free crops across the region. This has been disputed on many occasions by farmers saying to me that they do not achieve any premiums on them.
I am a little bit disappointed in the time frame. I have had a discussion with the minister and the Government Whip, because I was only told on the way to Adelaide at 3.30pm yesterday that this bill was going to be introduced and that there would be a suspension of standing orders. I would have thought that the protocol would be to allow for this bill to sit on the table for a period of time for members to consider and liaise on it. That is not the case and we have it before us today. I am happy to listen to all the debates, but I would certainly be looking for the speedy passage of this bill through the parliament. I will be listening very clearly and intently at the committee stage.
As I said, I had only three people in the last 12 months asking for the moratorium to stay in place and I had six people today asking for it to be lifted. That gives me an indication that my community in the electorate of Frome, particularly in the Georgetown and Clare Valley areas, are looking for an opportunity to choose the crops they would like to grow, whether they are GM free or whether they are GM crops. I certainly look forward to the speedy passage of the bill through the parliament.