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Australians act outrageously on NZ concerns

Australians act outrageously on NZ concerns

Australia's decision to reopen the public comment period on the draft risk assessment for access for New Zealand apples has drawn a sharp reaction from Trade Negotiations and Agriculture Minister Jim Sutton.

"We have been unable to find out what is behind this extraordinary move. On the face of it, I can see no justification for it. Interested parties have already been given 60 days to comment, which is what the process allows for," Mr Sutton said.

That 60-day comment period closed on 11 December. New Zealand submitted comments maintaining that the very stiff measures that are proposed for apple imports from New Zealand did not stand up to scientific scrutiny.

"New Zealand officials have been told by their Australian counterparts, even this week, that no late submissions would be accepted. I was assured by Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer that there would be no politically motivated delaying tactics."

The Australians have now decided that comments will be accepted up to 28 February 2001.

"This strings the process out even more, and further delays the final decision. Frankly, it is pretty hard to reconcile this latest Australian move with the repeated assurances we have been given," Mr Sutton said.

ENDS

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