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Labour's wimpish sop to apple growers

Hon. Dr Lockwood Smith
National Party Foreign Affairs & Trade Spokesman

15 June 2005

Labour's wimpish sop to apple growers

National's Foreign Affairs & Trade spokesman, Lockwood Smith, says the Government's response to the apple industry's call for action on access to the Australian market is wimpish and looks like a pre-election sop to apple growers.

"Labour is dragging its feet almost as much as the Australian Government."

Dr Smith says that instead of initiating dispute settlement procedures, the Government had only put the issue on the agenda for discussion at the World Trade Organisation's SPS Committee.

"This is an intractable dispute. There have been endless years of discussion on it and simply initiating further discussion at the WTO is a wimpish response."

National says dispute settlement procedures must be initiated immediately.

"The previous National Government didn't muck around with SPS Committee discussions in our disputes with the United States on lamb tariffs or with Canada over milk classes. We took action and won the cases, and Labour should do the same for our apple growers.

"Dispute settlement cases do not damage relations between countries.

"When I took the lamb tariff action against the United States, my working relationship with the US officials remained very good - in fact, better than they've been under this Labour Government.

"Apple growers shouldn't be satisfied with this weak response from Labour.

"Apple growers have every right to be outraged that while Labour drags its feet, Australia is gaining access to our newest, innovative apple varieties, such as Jazz.

"That fact demonstrates the hypocrisy involved in this whole case. The bud wood transfer for Australia to access our new varieties can theoretically pass on fire blight - the mature apples can't. It's quite clear Australia wants our new varieties but they don't want competition from our applies, and only dispute settlement at the WTO will resolve this."

ENDS

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