APPROXIMATELY 15 local fruit growers travelled from the Goulburn Valley to Parliament House in Canberra during the week to meet with politicians and to call for support to help keep fire blight out of Australia.
Federal Member for Murray, Dr. Sharman Stone said that in a crowd of over one hundred, the growers brought home the message that the Labor Government has given up on the job of protecting Australian fruit.
“The Australian orchard industry has until July 4 to comment on the new quarantine rules that must be met by New Zealand growers and packers when they export their fresh apples to Australia,” Sharman Stone said.
“However the Australian Government says they expect to be relying on the New Zealand orchardists own book of rules to be used as the export protocols. As well, the New Zealand Government will oversee the process. This sounds rather like putting Dracula in charge of the blood bank.”
“Instead of insisting on a strict protocol that is in line with the serious risk and impacts of fire blight and other pests coming in on fresh fruit from New Zealand, the Australian Government has said that whatever the New Zealand orchardists need to do to sell their fruit in their home market will be enough when it comes to exporting that fruit to Australia.
“Australian apple and pear growers have asked for a copy of this New Zealand set of rules so they can check them out. Obviously their futures depend on the protocols being rigorous enough to keep the dreaded apple and pear fire blight out of Australia,” Sharman Stone said.
“In a move that has shocked the growers, they have been refused access to this manual from New Zealand on the basis that it is “commercial in confidence”!
“So there it seems, at this time there will be a no cost, no special protocol regime for New Zealand apples coming in to Australia.”