Central and North Burnett Times - - CURRENT AFFAIRS - ALEX LIV­ING­STONE

GROW­COM has writ­ten to Federal Min­is­ter for Agri­cul­ture Barnaby Joyce to ask him to ur­gently over­turn the Im­port Risk Analy­ses for pineap­ples, gin­ger and pota­toes.

This fol­lows the re­lease of the Ru­ral and Re­gional Af­fairs and Trans­port Ref­er­ences Com­mit­tee’s fi­nal re­port on the ef­fect on Aus­tralian grow­ers of im­port­ing fresh pineap­ple from Malaysia; fresh gin­ger from Fiji; and pota­toes from New Zealand.

The Min­is­ter must pay heed to the com­mit­tee’s rec­om­men­da­tions, which to­tally vin­di­cated the po­si­tion of the re­spec­tive in­dus­tries re­gard­ing their biose­cu­rity con­cerns about very real threats to do­mes­tic pro­duc­tion from iden­ti­fied pests, in­clud­ing bac­te­rial fruit col­lapse and heart rot in pineap­ples.

We un­der­stand that our call to over­turn these IRAs is un­charted wa­ters but the find­ings of the com­mit­tee are un­equiv­o­cal – and unan­i­mous – that the federal Depart­ment of Agri­cul­ture, Fish­eries and Forestry (DAFF Biose­cu­rity) has been lax in pro­tect­ing Aus­tralia’s biose­cu­rity.

Grow­com has strongly ad­vo­cated for years that the sci­en­tific data should be given care­ful con­sid­er­a­tion but DAFF dis­missed this as ir­rel­e­vant in its rul­ing. The Se­nate com­mit­tee com­mented that this “de­fied com­mon sense” (Sec­tion 4.83).

Now that the fo­cus has turned once again to in­creas­ing Aus­tralia’s agri­cul­tural pro­duc­tion and pro­duc­tiv­ity to meet Asian food de­mand, and in par­tic­u­lar to grow­ing over­seas mar­kets for ex­ports, it is to be hoped that biose­cu­rity threats to fu­ture mar­ket ac­cess will be taken more se­ri­ously.

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