APPEAL TO MINISTER
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.