Today’s news that an Australia-bound apple consignment contained disease threats shows the Australian Government should have heeded warnings from Victoria’s apple and pear growers.
The Nationals’ Senator for Victoria, Bridget McKenzie, said this after news broke that a consignment of New Zealand apples contained leaf trash and a leaf curling midge.
“The Federal Government and BioSecurity Australia have been deaf to repeated warnings from farmers about the danger of plant diseases being imported to Australia with New Zealand apples, particularly fire blight,” Senator McKenzie said.
“Apple growers from Harcourt were very prominent in the protest rally at Shepparton last month, when they joined with pear growers to warn Labor’s Primary Industries Minister of the extent of the damage fire blight could visit on Victoria’s horticulture industry.
John Cobb, the Shadow Minister for Agriculture, pointed out yesterday that fruit growers understand orchard and packing house practices, and are aware of the potential breakdowns that can – and now have- occurred in New Zealand’s system.”
Senator McKenzie said that even the Labor State Government in South Australia does not trust this Federal Government to protect apple and pear growers.
“The fact that South Australia is imposing an exclusion to keep New Zealand apples from contaminating the local crop speaks volumes for the safety measures which Canberra did not impose,” Senator McKenzie said.
“The Minister for Agriculture and BioSecurity Australia must re-think the protection strategy to keep fire blight out of Australian orchards.”