PREMIER John Brumby has been forced to rebuke one of his MPs for protesting against the State Government's policy on genetically modified crops at a property owned by the Baillieu family.
Outspoken Labor MP Tammy Lobato received the dressing down after joining several anti-GM protesters for a rally last week at a Berwick property owned by a relative of Opposition Leader Ted Baillieu.
The protest by Ms Lobato, a long-standing opponent of genetically modified crops, is embarrassing for Mr Brumby. He was outraged when threats to invade his family farm near Bendigo were made last year by demonstrators opposed to the Government's plans to pipe water from northern Victoria.
Mr Brumby is understood to have been angry to hear that Ms Lobato had protested at the Baillieu property.
A spokeswoman for the Premier said Mr Brumby had a strongly held view that people's private property is private.
"Tammy Lobato has been counselled about this matter," the spokeswoman, Fiona Macrae, said.
The protest took place at the property of Marshall Baillieu, a former federal Liberal MP.
Ms Lobato put out a press release about the November 2 protest, stating that residents were unaware of the potential risks posed by the spread of GM cropping in the Berwick and Beaconsfield areas.
Yesterday she told Parliament the ownership of the property was irrelevant and there was no trespassing.
"The gathering last Monday took place on a road reserve where people walk their dogs up and down every day. There was never any intention of trespassing and no invasion of anyone's privacy took place," Ms Lobato said.
The Gembrook MP said "sensationalism" over ownership of the property should not divert attention from the fundamental issue, which was that GM crops were being grown in a residential area.
The Brumby Government controversially lifted its ban on GM crops in late 2007.
Last July, the Premier condemned a threat by anti-pipeline protesters, accusing them of intimidating his family and "unfair political play".
"People can protest," Mr Brumby said at the time. "But if every time a government makes a decision and people don't like it, they invade your property, that's Third World chaos."
Yesterday, Mr Baillieu accused the Labor Party of targeting his family, calling such action "totally inappropriate".
"It was a well-directed release and I think it was pretty clear [the Baillieu family was targeted]," he said.
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