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Principled Approach Needed To Resolve Apple Crisis

Apple growers urgently need an end to their crisis, but moves to resolve the complex and contentious issues must done in a principled way, ACT MP Owen Jennings said today.

"Our outrage about the growers' plight doesn't mean Parliament should now try lynch mob legislation against ENZA," Mr Jennings said.

"The crisis was caused by allowing a statutory monopoly to dominate the industry for too long and the subsequent creation of a badly-designed half-deregulated model to follow it.

"Risks have matured. We need to know who contracted to bear them? Did they know they were doing so? Who would have got the benefit if they hadn't matured, if the risk had gone the other way?

"If allegations against ENZA of deception and duress over grower contracts are substantiated, then parliamentary intervention as proposed by Nick Smith might be the most prompt and efficient solution. But it should be consistent with the bargains struck.

"Chairman Tony Gibbs must be totally open and frank with growers about the history and detail of ENZA's financial position and growers' contracts.

"If this level of honesty and transparency can't be achieved quickly, the government may have to consider an independent investigation to ascertain all the facts.

"The levy proposal is clearly dead in the water but equally the proposal to deduct $4.50 from last season's proceeds seems to be illegal and immoral," Mr Jennings said.

"Growers have a right to an urgent response from Mr Gibbs."


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