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Further Apple Import Delays Extremely Annoying

Further Apple Import Delays Extremely Annoying

The Australian Government announcement of a new procedure to consider whether to import New Zealand apples would inevitably lead to further delay of any final decision, Agriculture and Trade Negotiations Minister Jim Sutton said today.

Biosecurity Australia announced today it would set up a committee of experts to complete an import risk analysis of importing New Zealand apples. The makeup of the committee has yet to be determined, and when it is, stakeholders will have 30 days to comment on it and appeal any inclusions.

The committee will then review all the previous information used in the draft import risk analysis report, and will then carry out a series of workshops about their review findings.

Mr Sutton said that obviously all that would ensure there would be no final import risk analysis determined till after the Australian general election.

"This is disappointing, especially as several Australian ministers have assured senior members of this Government that the decision would be made without delay and purely on a scientific basis."

New Zealand apples have been barred from Australia for almost 80 years because of a perceived risk of transmitting fireblight. Scientific evidence shows that mature apples do not transmit fireblight, when cleared of trash leaf material.

Mr Sutton said he had been told by Australian ministers in 1990 that a decision to allow New Zealand apple imports would be made that year ? a decision has yet to be made.

"By comparison New Zealand is able to carry out import risk analyses, consult industries, and implement import health standards for Australian fruit in only six months' time."

He said he would raise the delay in determining the import standards for New Zealand apples at the CER talks in Australia on Thursday.


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