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Prebble Seeks Urgent Debate on Apple Industry

ACT leader Richard Prebble has called for an urgent debate in Parliament on the financial crisis in the pipfruit industry, caused by ENZA's move to recover foreign exchange losses from growers.

Mr Prebble has written today to the Speaker, Jonathan Hunt, seeking an urgent debate when Parliament resumes next Tuesday.

"ENZA's decision to seek money from growers has escalated to a financial crisis while Parliament has been in recess and the House has had no chance to debate the government's actions," Mr Prebble said.

"I met with apple growers in Hawke's Bay earlier this week to discuss the crisis. They asked the ACT Party to seek an urgent debate in Parliament.

"This is a matter of ministerial responsibility involving the Minister of Agriculture. The Minister has triggered a crisis by announcing deregulation of ENZA's statutory monopoly over the apple and pear exporting industry.

"The terms of the deregulation are unknown. The Minister has made an announcement without giving any details to the industry that is affected. ENZA has acted on this decision by trying to recover losses from growers over a shorter period than if de-regulation had not been announced.

"Apple growers are in limbo because they haven't been paid sufficiently by ENZA. Growers should now be pruning, to prepare for the pollination season in the next few weeks. Many growers can't seek finance from banks to pay for staff to prune trees, as they are already in overdraft. Payments from ENZA would ensure there's a sustainable harvest.

"I can assure you from meetings with growers over the past few weeks that over 30 percent of apple growers face financial ruin from ENZA's and the Minister's actions.

"It's urgent that a debate takes place so that the concerns of thousands of New Zealanders can be voiced and the government has a chance to review its position before the window of opportunity for a sustainable apple harvest passes," Mr Prebble said.

ENDS

For more information visit ACT online at http://www.act.org.nz or contact the ACT Parliamentary Office at act@parliament.govt.nz.

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