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Australian draft ruling "disappointing"

Conditions on potential New Zealand apple imports, as suggested by Australia, were "unjustifiably restrictive", Trade Negotiations Minister Jim Sutton said today.

The draft import risk analysis on New Zealand apples was made public by Biosecurity Australia in Canberra today.

New Zealand has been trying to import fruit into Australia for 78 years but has been continually barred. New Zealand apples have been banned from Australia for fear they might carry fireblight, a disease affecting apple trees.

Mr Sutton said he was not a scientific expert on fireblight, but if the two-year delay on New Zealand apple exports was scientifically justified, "then I'm an astronaut".

"I'm pretty disappointed."

He said he would take advice from officials and expert scientists after careful consideration of the import risk analysis (IRA) report.

"If this is not scientifically based, we will take appropriate action. We will certainly be making a submission under the IRA process."

The interim risk analysis is now subject to 60 days of consultation, before a final decision is made, probably some time in the new year.

Mr Sutton said New Zealand apple growers would be consulted as well.


ENDS



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