MICK Frawley is angry. Worried his industry and livelihood are in danger, he wants action to stop New Zealand spud imports.
He and other irate potato growers and politicians rallied at his farm at Bungaree, near Ballarat, last week against plans to import whole, fresh potatoes that may be infested with the devastating tomato-potato psyllid and zebra chip disease.
Nationals Senator Bridget McKenzie and state MP David O’Brien met with about 30 growers to discuss concerns.
Mr Frawley said growers were glad to finally have some politicians on their side, after receiving “no support” from local members.
“The Government doesn’t consult the growers themselves about their livelihoods – they’ve got no idea.”
Senator McKenzie said the meeting was a great chance to flesh out the core issues surrounding the producers’ feud with DAFF Biosecurity.
“Zebra chip is causing devastation in other nations, but we’ve got a clean, green industry here and we want to be able to feed the world with it,” Ms McKenzie said.”
Dunstown potato grower Greg Murphy said the disease could reduce the saleability of potatoes by up to 100 per cent.
“The DAFF decision is based on the science they think is right, but Government is too worried about free trade to direct them to protect the local vegetable industry,” Mr Murphy said.
But DAFF said Australia had a world-class biosecurity system based on the best scientific information available