ABOUT 150 protesters attended a rally on the steps of Parliament House yesterday, to voice their concerns about the use of genetically modified (GM) technology in WA.
The event was organised by the GM Free Consumers Network, in conjunction with the Network of Concerned Farmers, Wilderness Society WA and Conservation Council WA.
The protesters called on State Agriculture Minister Terry Redman and the State Government, to reverse its decision to allow GM canola to be grown on a commercial scale in WA this year.
Click the image below to see all the photos from the protest.
They also called on Mr Redman to resign, or to be sacked, for allowing GM crops to be grown.
Protest speakers also urged Liberal and National Party members to cross the floor on a conscience vote and support a Labor motion to disallow the trials.
Cutting a lone figure in the vocal crowd was Morawa farmer and notorious pro-GM supporter Bill Crabtree, who staged a min-protest of his own.
Mr Crabtree held a banner saying, “Thanks Terry” with a smiley face logo on one side, and “We Need Choice”, written on the other.
Mr Redman was also subject to some angst from several protestors, resulting in him leaving the rally early.
Mr Crabtree was near the protestors and said they made Mr Redman feel uncomfortable by “getting in his face”.
Mr Redman’s speech was also cut short after the crowd became hostile, with continued booing and hissing.
“I don’t think the crowd wanted to listen to Terry, I think they just wanted to taunt him, so hats off to him for standing there,” Mr Crabtree said.
“Good on him for being courageous and taking the flak for making a hard decision.”
Mr Redman was advised by other politicians at the rally and his staff, to leave.
Parliamentary security staff then stepped in to ensure the Minister was safe and chatted with the protestors.
Later in the day, Shadow Agriculture Minister Mick Murray introduced a disallowance motion to the Legislative Assembly to ban the growth of GM canola crops.
However, Agricultural Region MLC Jim Chown said the motion was a waste of time, and stressed the Liberals and Nationals would stand firm on the GM issue.
“I don’t think it’s going to have any influence on the exemption order that stands for GM canola in WA,” he said.
“This is an initiative of the Liberal Party campaign that has been adopted by a National Party Minister for Agriculture and has been carried out with the full support of the rural community of WA.
“Three exemption orders were put through the House last year and they were all defeated on a combined Liberal and National Party basis.
“As it stands today, the exemption order will stand and growers will be allowed to put GM canola in the ground this season.”
Mr Chown applauded Mr Crabtree’s stance as a lone voice amongst the anti-GM protestors.
“Mr Bill Crabtree is a well known agronomist, agriculturalist and farmer,” he said.
“Bill stands on GM and comes from a very good knowledge base and is to the point.
“Bill came along today to show that not all farmers are against GM and in fact he represented a large body of the community out there in rural WA.
“There’s always a silent majority out there.”
One of the event’s organisers, Janette Liddelow, Williams, said the rally was a success.
“I think it was highly successful and always is when people come together,” she said.
“We all feel very strongly.
“I think the disappointing part is that there’s no response from Mr Redman.
“The mantra is repeated over and over by him, that segregation is possible, but everyone knows it’s not.
“That’s the basis of the debate but there’s really not much to debate is there.
“If he is not prepared to back down on lifting the moratorium, we are definitely asking him to resign or be sacked, and any Liberals or Nationals to vote with their conscience and cross the floor.”